It is a well-known fact that smoking poses serious hazards to one’s health. It contributes to vascular disease, lung cancer, premature aging of the skin, and heart disease. While all of these should good enough reasons to quit (or prevent) the habit, some people may not be aware of the link between smoking and hair loss.
Indeed, there are many factors (like genetics, medical conditions, and treatments, etc.) that can cause hair loss. But, a study published in the Archives of Dermatology revealed that people who smoked 20 or so cigarettes daily were around twice as likely to face hair loss because of smoking than those who have never smoked, regardless of family history.
The Effects of Smoking on One’s Hair
More research present that harmful chemicals in cigarettes can cause severe damage to your hair. One of these chemicals is nicotine, which reduces blood flow throughout the body while constricting the blood vessels.
When blood flow is restricted across the scalp, one’s hair growth is adversely affected. This is because the hair follicles fail to receive the oxygen and the nutrients required to sustain a healthy growth cycle. Here is a closer look at the effects smoking has on hair:
Poor Blood Circulation
The hair follows a natural cycle that involves growth (anagen), transition (catagen), rest (telogen), and shedding (exogen). When there is a lack of nutrients due to poor blood circulation, the follicles become stressed and enter a prolonged or permanent resting phase. This means that there are no new hairs to replace fallen ones, resulting in hair loss.
A Weakened Immune System
Smokers who experience colds and flu often are not a coincidence. Smoking gets their white blood cells to constantly fight the damage that cigarettes cause, leading to a weakened immune system.
This increases the chances of bacterial or fungal infections on the scalp, too, preventing the follicles from producing new, healthy hair.
It also reduces vitamins A and C in the body, which is necessary to produce collagen. A lack of collagen robs the hair of its natural oils making it dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.
Smokers not only induce hair loss on themselves but on others, too (via passive or second-hand smoking). The nicotine and cotinine released into the air by cigarette smoking deposit in the hair shaft, zapping hair of its protein that fuels growth in the follicle. Its toxins and carcinogens even aggravate genetic hair loss.
Disruption in the Endocrine System
Smoking brings about changes in the endocrine system, which may result in higher Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels. An unhealthy increase in this androgen leads to male and female pattern baldness.
How to stop the smoking related hair loss?
Fortunately, one’s health can be improved when one adapts to a healthier lifestyle. Here are some things that can be done to stop or prevent hair loss due to smoking:
It should go without saying that quitting the probable cause of hair loss is the best way to reverse the condition. Quitting smoking will stop premature aging, drying of the scalp, and decrease the likelihood of hair fallout. The hair’s natural growth properties should return to normal once there is no more toxic contamination on the hair and scalp tissues.
Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet
Especially for long-time smokers, it will take time for the hair to restore itself and return to its healthy state. Help the process by eating a nutrient-rich diet that includes vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, iron, zinc, folic acid, proteins. If these foods are ingested daily, not only will they promote hair growth, but also strengthen the immune system.
Consult with a Healthcare Practitioner
It is always possible that smoking is not the only cause of one’s hair loss. If one continues to experience hair loss even after quitting for an extended period, it is important to look into other possibilities that could be causing it.Seek medical attention as soon as possible, especially if the hair loss is sudden, excessive, and/or falls out in spots or patches.
We understand that bad habits are hard to break. So, amid breaking one, another (better and healthier) practice can be started to give hair a fighting chance of staying. Aside from eating a well-balanced diet and getting regular exercise, using the right hair products can counter the hair loss smoking induces.
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