Going, going, gone - that's the truth about hair loss as you age. Your once lush hair may begin to thin progressively, until one day you finally notice bald spots. What's more, if you're a smoker and your hair is thinning, the two could be connected.
As you're already aware, smoking contributes to vascular disease, lung cancer, premature aging of the skin, and heart disease. That is enough reason to kick the habit, but did you know that smoking can also cause hair loss?
Keep reading to understand how smoking is linked to hair loss and premature greying.
Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss?
While there are several factors that are responsible for hair loss, including stress, genetics, and hormones such as DHT, lifestyle habits like nicotine consumption can be just as damaging to your hair's health.
Blood flow is vital to the hair follicle (tiny holes or pores on your skin that produce hair) for healthy growth, and nicotine has shown to reduce blood flow throughout the body while constricting your blood vessels.
Restricted blood flow across the scalp can negatively impact hair growth as the follicles don't receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients to sustain a healthy growth cycle.
One study published in the Archives of Dermatology, studied a group of 740 men between the ages of 40 to 91 in Taiwan . It was revealed that those who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day were twice as likely to face hair loss due to smoking, compared to those who never smoked, despite family history.
Effects Of Smoking On Your Hair
- Smoking depletes collagen, robbing the hair of oils, leaving it dehydrated
- It causes buildup on the scalp, which makes the roots oily
- It can cause premature greying 
- Smoking brings about changes in the endocrine system, which hampers the gland’s capacity to produce healthy hormones
- It reduces vitamins A and C in the body that are necessary for collagen production
- Smoking weakens your immunity, which makes you susceptible to illnesses
How Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss?
1. Poor Blood Circulation
Your follicles need an abundant supply of minerals, nutrients, and oxygen to produce healthy hair. The toxins present in a cigarette can affect your circulation, shrink blood vessels, and impede blood flow.
Your hair’s growth cycle sees 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. As a result, the strands continue to fall at a similar rate, but the follicles cannot replace them.
An interruption to the hair growth cycle because of inadequate blood for nourishment results in hair loss. 
2. A Weakened Immune System
Smoking lowers the body’s immune response, making you more vulnerable to infections. That cold you can’t seem to shake off might linger around due to your smoking habit.
Your immune system is what protects you from infections and diseases like the common flu or cancer. When you smoke, your white blood cells are always active to fight the damage that tobacco causes.
When your immune system is weak, the chances of bacterial or fungal infections on the scalp become higher, which prevents your follicles from producing new, healthy hair. 
3. Environmental Factors
Your hair can also thin out due to environmental factors.  Pollution zaps your hair of its protein that fuels hair growth in the follicle. The presence of pollutants and carcinogens in the air may even aggravate genetic hair loss.
You may have heard that stress can lead to hair loss, and it's true. Smoking increases stress in your body. It also causes a rise in blood pressure, heart rate, and tensed muscles.
Cravings for nicotine feel stressful because your body begins to go through withdrawal.
5. Smoking Disrupts The Endocrine System
DHT can make the follicles shrink until they stop producing hair. It can also cause follicles to produce hair that's brittle and weak, making your hair appear thinner.
It's essential to eat a balanced, nutritious diet so your body can replenish and restore damaged cells and hair follicles.
Does Quitting Smoking Help Hair Growth?
The best way to reverse the effects of smoking on hair is by quitting.
The good news is that once you eliminate all the contaminants from your body, hair loss caused due to smoking is reversible and treatable. Once you quit, hair grows back, as your body starts to heal and function normally.
However, long-term smokers might need additional treatment to help regenerate hair, such as a graft or hair transplant.
Will My Hair Grow Back If I Stop Smoking?
Once you quit smoking, your overall health and the wellness of your hair will improve. If smoking was your hair loss's primary cause, then quitting will stop premature aging and drying of your scalp, decreasing the likelihood of fallout.
While you cannot reverse the damage caused due to smoking, quitting is one way you can bring your body back to a state where there is a possibility to regrow healthy hair.
It takes time for hair to restore itself and return to its healthy state. So be patient, especially if you are a long-term smoker.
If you continue to experience hair loss after you've quit for long, it's essential to look into other possibilities and address them. A certified professional can guide you in the right direction.
When you smoke, your body loses vitamin C. Consume an adequate amount of vitamin C to improve your immune system.
Can I Start Smoking After A Hair Transplant?
If you’re planning to get a hair transplant surgery, you want a 100% chance of success. For best results, don’t smoke at least a week before the surgery and two weeks after transplanting your hair. 
Open wounds are more susceptible to infections, and the longer it takes for them to heal, the higher the possibility of infections. Infections may be a threat to a successful hair transplant because there are chances of scabs and crusts remaining on the skin for longer than necessary, resulting in scar tissue formation.
There are several reasons for hair loss, and they can often be interrelated. If you are experiencing hair loss, thinning, or premature greying, you should include healthy habits in your daily routines such as regular exercise and a well-balanced diet. Do not punctuate your life with a cigarette.
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