Can alcohol cause hair loss

Hair loss is one of the most common symptoms experienced by almost everyone to varying extents. There are several causes of hair loss, some of which include lack of proper nutrition, heredity, improper hygiene, excessive oiliness or dryness of the scalp, hormonal imbalances, and specific periods in life such as pregnancy, menopause, and older age. [1]

Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as excessive intake of alcohol are also associated with a higher risk of hair loss.

This article discusses whether alcohol causes hair fall. You will also discuss whether alcohol-induced hair loss is reversible and address common concerns associated with thinning of hair and alcohol intake.

Does Alcohol Affect Hair Growth?

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is implicated as one of the reasons that can interfere with hair growth by affecting hormonal balance, reducing nutrient absorption in the gut, and causing mental stress. [2]

Alcohol is also believed to contribute to hair loss by increasing the risk of associated factors such as poor emotional wellness, thyroid disorders, and a higher likelihood of inability to maintain appropriate hygiene of the scalp and hair.

For example, heavy alcohol use can make you more vulnerable to developing a deficiency of hair-friendly nutrients such as folic acid, iron, and vitamin B12. The inadequate availability of these nutrients to the body can make the hair follicles and hair shafts weak and vulnerable to breakage.

In addition, the body needs vitamins A, B, C, D, and E to grow new hair, maintain hormonal balance, and support emotional wellness. Excessive alcohol intake can lower the absorption of these nutrients from the food in the intestine. The deficiency of these nutrients can hinder the growth of new and healthy hair. It can also cause disruptions in hormonal balance and affect your mental health, thus increasing stress and anxiety. These consequences associated with alcohol intake eventually slow down hair growth and increase the risk of hair fall.

Can Alcohol Cause Hair Thinning?

There are several long-term negative effects associated with alcoholism, and thinning of hair is one of them.

Alcoholism can cause baldness and thinning of hair by elevating mental stress, disrupting the balance of hormones, and interfering with the absorption of nutrients. [3]

Here is a breakdown of factors associated with alcohol-induced hair thinning.

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Mental stress

The long-term mental stress can trigger a condition known as telogen effluvium.

Telogen effluvium refers to a state that causes the hair to stay in the resting phase of its growth. As a result, they can no longer grow normally and eventually fall out in bunches. If not addressed in a timely manner, the loss of hair in large amounts eventually leads to hair thinning and baldness.

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Nutritional deficiencies

The state of telogen effluvium-related hair loss can persist for longer in the presence of a deficiency of nutrients.

Your hair requires a healthy scalp and strong hair follicles, proper blood circulation, and an adequate supply of nutrients to grow new and healthy hairs, which are resistant to adverse factors such as exposure to dust, dirt, bacteria, fungi, harmful sun rays, pollutants and chemicals in shampoos and other hair care products.

The excess intake of alcohol can deprive the body of several essential nutrients. This can hamper blood circulation through the scalp. As a result, the hair follicles and hair shafts become weaker, making you vulnerable to experiencing hair thinning and baldness. [4] [5]

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Hormonal imbalances

Thinning of hair associated with alcohol use is also linked to disruption in the hormonal levels, especially the female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone), male sex hormones (testosterone), and thyroid hormones.

The thyroid gland regulates the secretion and release of several hormones in the body. Alcoholism can interfere with the functions of the thyroid gland, due to which the secretion of thyroid hormones – T3, T4, and TSH – is disrupted.

The imbalance in the levels of these thyroid hormones can increase or decrease the secretion of other hormones in the body, including male and female sex hormones, thus creating a cascading effect, which eventually leads to thinning of hair and baldness. [6]

Is Alcohol-Related Hair Loss Reversible?

Fortunately, alcohol-related hair loss is reversible. It is possible to restore the healthy growth of hair after quitting alcohol use, provided you follow healthy dietary and lifestyle interventions and choose appropriate hair restoration treatments when needed.

How To Reverse Hair Loss?

In addition to avoiding alcohol intake, you must make appropriate changes in your diet and lifestyle in order to successfully reverse alcohol-related hair loss.

Here are some strategies that can reduce and potentially reverse hair loss.

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Mental stress

Your hair care expert might prescribe you some medications depending on the specific type of hair fall you have and its cause.

For example, men who suffer from male pattern baldness are often advised to use a medication called Finasteride. It works by preventing the conversion of testosterone into a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is primarily responsible for causing this form of hair loss.

Minoxidil is another hair loss medication commonly used to stimulate hair growth and slow or inhibit balding. It is particularly effective in people below 40 years of age with recent hair loss. [7]

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Nutritious foods & healthy diet

Eating a healthy and nutritious diet can improve the availability of nutrients to the body and restore hormonal balance. The positive results you can achieve by stopping alcohol intake can improve further when you include hair-friendly nutrients in your diet, such as:

Vitamin A
Vitamin E
Vitamin Bs
Vitamin D
Vitamin C
Iron
Folic acid
Magnesium

In addition, your diet should also include foods that possess natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, such as curcumin (a compound present in turmeric) and omega-3 fatty acids.

The medicinal properties of these nutrients can help protect the scalp and hair follicles against damage and help you get better results.

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Meditation and yoga

The decrease in hair loss after stopping alcohol intake can improve significantly by making efforts to reduce mental stress by practicing stress-relieving methods such as yoga and meditation and adopting other healthy habits like regular exercise. [8]

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Supplements

Supplements containing iron and vitamins A, Bs, C, D, and E can promote hair growth and help you get better results in a shorter duration.

The use of iron supplements is specifically recommended for women, as they are more likely to have a deficiency of this nutrient as a result of excessive blood loss during periods. [9]

In addition, you might need supplements containing zinc. The deficiency of zinc is associated with 4 different kinds of hair loss, including telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, female pattern hair loss, and male pattern hair loss. The risk of these kinds of hair fall is comparatively higher in people who consume alcohol regularly. [10]

Your hair care expert might also recommend protein supplements, as drinking alcohol interferes with the absorption of protein, due to which the growth of new hair is significantly reduced. In addition, the inadequate supply of protein also hampers the healing and repair processes in the scalp and hair follicles, thus contributing to hair loss and hair breakage. [11]

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Hair loss products

Regular cleaning and washing of your hair using shampoos and conditioners can help you maintain optimum hygiene of the scalp and hair follicles and prevent further hair loss.

However, it is important to choose safe and effective hair care products suitable for your specific scalp conditions. For example, if your scalp is too dry, you should avoid shampoos that strip the natural moisture from the scalp. Similarly, it is important to use shampoos and conditioners that do not contain harmful chemicals such as parabens and sulfate, as this could cause damage to the hair follicles, allowing the hair loss to persist even after you have stopped drinking alcohol.

You can consult our medical team to know the best hair care products suitable for you to help you get better results and avoid further hair loss.

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Limiting alcohol consumption

Will my hair grow back if I stop drinking alcohol is the most common concern most patients have when they realize that excessive alcohol intake has been at the root of their hair loss problem.

Luckily, hair growth usually tends to improve after limiting or reducing the consumption of alcohol in most people. The results often become noticeable in a shorter duration when limiting alcohol intake is combined with other healthy habits such as eating a nutrient-dense diet, quitting smoking, performing regular exercise, yoga, or meditation, and undergoing advanced therapy such as hair restoration when needed.

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Hair transplant

If your hair loss is severe, you might need advanced hair restoration treatments such as a hair transplant.

Hair transplant offers a safe and effective treatment option for men and women struggling with hair loss due to factors such as excessive alcohol intake, heredity, hormonal disturbances, male or female pattern baldness, nutritional deficiencies, or chronic scalp conditions such as psoriasis eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis. [12] [13]

A typical FUE hair transplant session lasts for about 6 hours. The results usually start to become noticeable within a few weeks and peak within 2 to 6 months.

hair transplant norwood 5 patient during consultation

Alcohol and Hair Transplant

A hair transplant offers an effective option for men and women diagnosed with alcohol-induced hair loss. Here are some common concerns associated with the safety and effectiveness of a hair transplant for the management of hair loss caused by alcoholism.

Being aware of whether a hair transplant can help reverse hair fall and the various dos and don’ts you need to follow before and after the procedure will help you make an informed decision.

Can I consume alcohol before getting a hair transplant?

It is important to limit or avoid your alcohol intake before getting a hair transplant because alcohol consumption can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, thus delaying your recovery. In addition, alcohol may also contribute to inflammation, due to which the healing of the donor and recipient areas may not occur as efficiently as expected.

Hence, it is important to avoid or limit your intake of alcohol for at least 4 weeks before getting a hair transplant to foster a smooth and comfortable recovery.

Can I consume alcohol after my hair transplant surgery?

Drinking excessive alcohol after hair transplantation can trigger inflammation in the hair follicles and hair roots. It can also hamper the synthesis of collagen by the fibroblast in the skin. These consequences can affect the healing of microwounds at the donor and recipient sites, resulting in prolonged bleeding and delay in recovery.

In addition, alcohol intake can also interfere with the formation of new blood vessels in the donor and recipient sites, thus slowing down your recovery further. Alcohol consumption may also increase the risk of skin infection. [14] [15]

Hence, it is advisable to avoid alcohol intake for at least 10 days after hair transplant.

Generally, it is safe to consume alcohol about 10 days after a hair transplant. However, if alcohol intake is one of the known factors that has possibly contributed to your hair loss – whether directly or indirectly – it is advisable to avoid or minimize your alcohol intake even thereafter to sustain the result.

Afro female hairline lowerin hair transplant before operation

Alcohol and Hair Loss: Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, alcohol can cause hair loss in females by increasing the risk of thyroid dysfunction, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and nutritional deficiencies.

It’s a false myth that alcoholics have good hair. The exact origin of this myth is not known. However, several studies have clearly established facts contrary to this myth, proving the role of alcohol intake in hair loss and baldness.

Alcohol can stay in your hair for up to 90 days, which is a longer period compared to other substances and drugs.

Yes, hair products containing alcohol also worsen hair loss by stripping off the moisture from the scalp. Hence, they are not recommended overall.

Yes, heavy alcohol consumption can cause premature greying by depleting the body of vital nutrients, interfering with the absorption of vitamins and minerals, and impairing your overall health.

References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28925637/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8835065/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9228223
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3544907/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3544907/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767933/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37937040/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9917611/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3678013/
  10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12011-011-9223-6
  11. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2230.2002.01076.x
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29377395
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10606053
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4664499/
  15. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2018/4658583/