Smoking, and the harmful chemicals present in cigarettes such as nicotine, can cause hair loss. This is due to the damage smoking can cause to hair follicles.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance present in all tobacco products and some e-cigarette liquids. It creates a temporary feeling of well-being and relaxation. However, using nicotine and products containing nicotine can affect various systems and cause harm throughout the body.

Smoking can negatively affect many aspects of health, including hair health. Research notes an association between smoking and hair loss. This is because the harmful chemicals in cigarettes can affect hair follicles.

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Evidence highlights that smoking has an adverse effect on hair health. Nicotine, tobacco, and other components present in cigarettes can build up in hair follicles and the hair shaft. This leads to hair loss and premature hair graying.

A 2022 systematic review notes that smoking can result in hair loss due to the following mechanisms:

  • narrows blood vessels, which affects circulation
  • causes DNA damage
  • oxidative stress
  • inflammation
  • makes neurotransmitter receptors less sensitive
  • hair thinning

In particular, the systematic review notes that nicotine narrows blood vessels, which lowers the amount of blood flow to the scalp. Moreover, nicotine also causes inflammation of the hair follicle and makes neurotransmitter receptors less sensitive. This leads to damage to the hair follicle.

Evidence notes that when a person quits smoking, it is possible to undo some of the damage caused by the harmful effects of smoking. For example, within a couple of weeks to a few months, a person’s circulation may improve.

However, it is not yet clear whether it is possible to reverse hair loss due to smoking. Currently, no studies suggest that hair loss improves after stopping smoking, so further research is still necessary.

In addition to nicotine, cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain more than 7,000 components. Many of these chemicals are harmful to human health. Health experts recognize smoking as a major preventable cause of premature death and disability in the United States.

Nicotine use through smoking can cause:

In addition to smoking, other causes and factors that can affect hair loss include:

At-home treatments and remedies to help slow hair loss can include:

  • stopping smoking
  • eating a balanced diet
  • changing hair care products
  • limiting the use of heat on hair, such as hot irons for straightening
  • avoiding harsh chemicals on hair, such as those for coloring or perming
  • gently brushing or combing hair
  • trying to avoid pulling or twisting hair

A person can also take certain supplements to help slow hair loss. However, it is important to discuss supplements with a doctor, as receiving too much of certain nutrients can accelerate hair loss.

Various factors can influence hair loss. Effective treatments will depend on the underlying cause of hair loss. To receive an accurate diagnosis, it is advisable to contact a dermatologist. They can identify possible causes and provide a variety of treatments. These can include:

Read on to learn more about slowing or preventing hair loss.

When a person decides to quit smoking, they may experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms. This refers to the physical and psychological effects that can occur when nicotine starts to leave the body. Tips to help manage cravings can include:

  • trying nicotine replacement products
  • avoiding situations or activities that a person associates with smoking
  • substituting smoking with chewing on carrots, pickles, apples, celery, sugarless gum, or hard candy
  • doing breathing exercises
  • reminding oneself that cravings will pass

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following advice:

  • Adjust nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) medications as necessary, such as trying different doses or formulations.
  • Create a suitable environment for quitting smoking. This can include removing cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays, as well as telling people about quitting so they can provide support.
  • Try different distraction techniques. This can include listening to music, doing physical exercises, or trying other enjoyable activities.
  • As well as occupying the mouth, use other items such as stress balls to keep the hands busy.

Read on to learn more about how to give up smoking.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance present in cigarettes. Tobacco products containing nicotine can negatively influence health and lead to hair loss. In particular, nicotine can result in hair loss due to damaging hair follicles.

While smoking-related hair loss is not necessarily reversible, it is advisable to try quitting smoking. This is because smoking can lead to multiple health problems.

If a person is experiencing hair loss, many different home remedies are available. If these options are not successful, a person can contact a dermatologist. They can identify the underlying cause of hair loss and recommend suitable treatment options.