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Why Smoking Causes Hair Loss And How You Can Prevent It

“Smoking is injurious to health” you have probably heard this slogan a thousand times. But it is not just your health that is at risk, smoking can cause severe damage to your hair and appearance.

According to a recent medical study, smoking is directly linked to hair fall and hair thinning. If you are a smoker or just started smoking you probably noticed an increase in hair fall.

Your head full of hair may begin to thin progressively, until one day you finally notice bald spots. This is a nightmare for most men.

Smoking is one of the primary causes of vascular disease, lung cancer, premature aging of the skin, and heart disease. If you are still not convinced to quit smoking, let me tell you another secret… smoking can make you go bald.

Besides damaging other parts of your body smoking can cause severe damage to your hair, which may contribute to hair loss & premature graying eventually.

Over the years there have been many scientific studies that show the effect of smoking on scalp hair. Smoking can trigger early hair loss & hair thinning. Especially if you are a chain smoker.

Can Smoking Causes Hair Loss?

The short answer is “Yes”, smoking is directly linked to hair loss and prematurely greying hair. But apart from nicotine, there are several other factors responsible for hair loss. It mostly includes stress, genetics, and hormones such as DHT.

A sudden change in your lifestyle and diet plan can also cause hair fall. It is a well-known fact that nicotine is responsible for constricting your blood vessels which can reduce blood flow throughout the body. Blood flow is essential to the hair follicle as it increases testosterone levels which promotes healthy hair growth.

Restricted blood flow can have a negative impact on hair growth as the hair follicles don’t receive enough oxygen and nutrients to sustain a healthy growth cycle.

Chain smokers are twice as likely to face hair loss compared to non-smokers.

How Smoking Causes Hair loss

There are three main reasons why smoking can cause hair damage and make your hair thin and grey.

Smoking Reduces Blood Flow

Your follicles need essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and oxygen to produce healthy hair. Smoking decreases blood flow and circulation throughout the body. A decrease in blood circulation also decreases testosterone which is responsible for hair growth.

As cigarettes contain toxic chemicals like nicotine and tar, smoking cigarettes can clog your blood vessel and block blood circulation to your hair follicles.

Due to lower blood circulation your hair follicles fails to receive essential nutrients from the blood and cause hair damage and hair fall.

Your hair’s growth cycle goes through four phases – the growth phase, the transitional phase, the resting phase, and the shedding phase.

Without enough nutrition, your follicles become stressed and enter a prolonged or permanent resting phase. This interruption in your hair growth cycle can result in hair loss.

Weak Immune System

Smoking cigarettes can cause severe damage to your immune system. This can lead to diseases or illnesses that cause hair loss or permanent hair damage. When your immune system is weak, the chances of bacterial or fungal infections on the scalp become higher. This prevents your follicles from producing new, healthy hair.


The toxic chemicals present in cigarettes not only cause hair loss in people who smoke but also cause hair fall in people who undergo passive smoking. Toxic chemicals zap your hair of its protein that fuels hair growth in the follicle.

Your hair structure can go through permanent damage when you are exposed to chemicals like nicotine and cotinine. Pollution caused by smoking can also intensify your genetic hair loss and cause damage to your hair follicles.

Written by Dr. Ahmed Mostaque

Dr. Ahmed is an associate professor of medicine. He has a bachelor’s degree in medicine from the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital. He also enjoys writing articles about health and well-being.

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