It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers. Drinking excessively also has a diuretic effect that can lead to lower levels of potassium and magnesium in the body. When this happens, it makes it more difficult for your body to sustain typical, healthy functions, including hair growth. No part of your body, health or life goes untouched by the effects of excessive alcohol use, and even your hair can be impacted. In fact, severe or long-lasting hypo- and hyperthyroidism may cause hair loss and thinning of the hair across the whole scalp.

How does alcohol affect your hair?

Effects of alcohol on hair

Ethanol acts as a diuretic, which pulls water out of a person's body through sweating and urination. This diuretic effect can make an individual and their hair dehydrated. Damage easily occurs with dehydrated hair.

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How the Effects of Alcoholism Can Cause Hair Loss

In turn, this leads to increased urination and excessive loss of fluids. When the body lacks proper protein or other nutrients due to a poor diet, these nutritional deficiencies will likely cause hair loss over time, resulting from the disruption this causes to the body. Alcohol – especially beer and liquor – contains mostly empty calories. Even though drinking can lead to a feeling of fullness, it provides little in the way of nutrition. Furthermore, those who drink heavily often don’t focus on maintaining a well-balanced diet… something that a thriving scalp and healthy hair growth require.

However, with alcohol and hair loss, it becomes an issue that pertains to both men and women. Due to people being ignorant to this fact, it is often ignored by many heavy drinkers. It can reduce the risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, and it can provide you with the energy you need to perform your day-to-day tasks (18). Unfortunately, nutritional deficiencies are common even in adults who believe they are getting the proper amounts in their daily diet (19). For men, this can cause issues with hair loss and disrupt hair growth. High levels of stress and heavy alcohol use are linked to the health of your hair.

Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Hair Loss?

For example, biotin and zinc deficiencies can cause brittle hair, which can lead to hair loss. And, because our nights out don’t exist in a vacuum (as much as we wish they would sometimes), temporary dryness isn’t the only problem drinking can present for your locks. The reason you feel depleted of nutrients the day after drinking is because you are, and your hair suffers for it. Blood supply is critical to the health of the hair follicle and, as a result, the production of healthy hair. A lack of folic acid, then, can lead to lower levels of oxygen and nutrients being delivered, which can damage the hair irreversibly. Fortunately, none of the negative side effects from drinking alcohol that we discussed above should be permanent.

While decreasing alcohol intake can help prevent this issue from occurring, the only way to reverse the process is to stop drinking altogether. Hair shedding takes place during the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle. Telogen effluvium occurs when the hair growth cycle is prematurely shifted into its resting phase.

Increases In Estrogen Levels Have Been Linked With Pattern Baldness

Some research suggests that eating too much sugar and high glycemic index (GI) foods may be linked to hair loss. Eating too much sugar may increase sebum (oil) production, which can drive scalp irritation and inflammation. Not only that, eating too many high GI foods may raise your insulin levels, which can also affect hair growth (Goluch-Koniuszy, 2016).

does alcoholism cause hair loss

Improper hydration of the skin can cause a loss in strength and elasticity, which can lead to long-term damage to the follicles and hair shaft (11). In some cases, it may even promote the development of dry skin which can lead to itching and even more opportunity for damage to the scalp (12). A blood sugar spike occurs when too much glucose builds up in the bloodstream. As we come full circle with our list, we must mention the potential liver damage that may occur with alcohol abuse. It’s also possible to develop a number of cancers that affect various parts of the body. When this occurs, it can weaken your immune system which may cause fewer nutrients to reach your hair and therefore stunt hair growth.

However, there are some cases in which a person’s alcohol intake actually causes interference with their body’s ability to process and use food. This can lead to malnutrition, which can lead to lower potassium and magnesium levels. This can alter our bodies normal functions, particularly that of our normal hair growth cycle.

It may also be beneficial to work with a dietitian to ensure you’re eating a well-balanced diet that provides your body with all the nutrition it needs. If applied directly to the scalp, rubbing alcohol can dry out the hair follicle, resulting in dry hair, breakage and potential hair loss. It’s no secret that the toxins in alcohol have an effect on your liver, heart and skin. To avoid the repercussions of consuming alcohol, it’s best to drink responsibly and stay within the guidelines set out by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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