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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

February 1, 2024

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The consumption of alcohol and hair loss are not directly connected, yet alcohol may lead to health problems that could result in hair thinning or loss.

Excessive alcohol intake can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which in turn can cause hair loss. Proper nutrition is essential for the body to function optimally and maintain healthy hair. Alcohol, though, can interfere with the breakdown and absorption of vital nutrients. Heavy alcohol use is often associated with deficiencies in nutrients such as B12, folic acid, and iron. Over time, this can extend to a lack of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, all of which are critical for hair growth, nail health, sleep quality, and brain function. When malnutrition sets in, it can negatively impact both your overall health and the condition of your hair.

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  • Read on to learn more about the following issues:

    Does alcohol affect hair growth?
  • Does alcohol cause hair loss?
  • Hair loss from alcohol abuse: how to engage with treatment?

Can Drinking Alcohol Cause Hair Loss?

While alcohol itself does not directly cause hair loss, drinking and hair loss and nevertheless related. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to conditions and deficiencies that contribute to thinning hair and hair loss in many different ways.

Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. This is essential for hair health, as the hair follicles require a range of vitamins and minerals to maintain normal growth and function. Deficiencies in nutrients like iron, zinc, and B vitamins, often exacerbated by heavy drinking, can lead to weakened hair and eventual loss.

Alcohol consumption can disrupt hormonal balance, including thyroid function. The thyroid gland plays a pivotal role in regulating metabolism and growth processes in the body, including hair growth. Imbalances in thyroid hormones can lead to hair thinning and loss.

Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to elevated stress levels and affect liver function. The liver’s plays a central role in detoxifying the body and regulating hormones. Impaired liver function can lead to a buildup of toxins and hormonal imbalances, both of which can negatively impact hair health.

Alcohol is a diuretic, leading to dehydration. Proper hydration helps in maintaining a healthy scalp and hair. Dehydration can cause the hair to become dry, brittle, and more prone to falling out.

This condition is characterized by hair remaining in the resting phase of its growth cycle and not progressing to the growth phase, often triggered by stress and nutritional deficiencies associated with alcohol abuse.

So, while moderate alcohol consumption may not significantly affect hair health, chronic and excessive drinking can lead to the issues outlined above, indirectly contributing to hair loss. This means that maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol and sticking to a balanced diet can help in preventing hair loss related to these factors.

Alcoholism and Hair Loss

Long-term alcoholism can have many adverse effects, including hair thinning. Alcoholism hair loss is primarily caused by three factors related to alcoholism: elevated stress levels, impaired nutrient absorption, and hormonal imbalances.

  1. Elevated stress levels: Chronic stress, a common consequence of long-term alcoholism, is linked to a condition called telogen effluvium. This condition causes hair to remain in its resting phase, stunting new growth and leading to significant hair loss. Normally, hair cycles through three growth phases, so disruption of this cycle can severely impact hair health.
  2. Impaired nutrient absorption: Alcoholism affects the body’s ability to break down and absorb nutrients essential for a healthy scalp, proper circulation, and hair growth. A deficiency in these nutrients due to alcoholism can result in hair thinning.
  3. Hormonal imbalances: Alcoholism can disrupt thyroid function, leading to hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. The thyroid plays an important part in regulating hormones in the body, and its dysfunction can lead to hair loss.

Addressing alcoholism can help mitigate these effects. Here are some additional steps to consider:

  • Manage stress: Engaging in stress-reducing activities and therapies can alleviate the impact of telogen effluvium. Consider practices like meditation, yoga, or counseling.
  • Improve nutritional intake: Focus on eating a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients for hair health. Supplements may also be recommended under medical guidance.
  • Regular medical checkups: Regular checkups can help monitor thyroid function and hormonal levels. Treatment for thyroid imbalances can improve overall health and potentially reduce hair loss.

Recovery from the effects of alcoholism, including hair thinning, requires time and a holistic approach to health and well-being.

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Does Drinking Make Your Hair Fall Out?

Excessive alcohol intake can lead to hair loss, mainly due to its negative impact on nutrient absorption and dietary habits.

Alcohol can cause deficiencies in crucial nutrients like zinc, copper, and protein. Insufficient levels of these nutrients are known to contribute to hair shedding.

The relationship between iron and hair loss is complex and not fully understood, with research yielding varying results. That said, iron deficiency may be a contributing factor to hair loss in some individuals.

Heavy drinkers often have poor dietary habits, leading to inadequate nutrient intake. Additionally, alcohol can disrupt the body’s normal processing and utilization of nutrients during digestion, further contributing to nutrient deficiencies.

So, while alcohol does not directly cause hair loss, its effect on nutrition and the digestive processes of the body can play a substantial role in hair health.

Is Hair Loss from Alcohol Reversible?

If you are experiencing hair loss due to alcohol consumption, addressing your drinking habits is a the first and most fundemental step. Here are some strategies to help reverse the effects:

  • Eat a balanced diet: Prioritize a diet rich in iron, zinc, copper, and protein. Consult with your healthcare provider about supplements to correct any nutritional deficiencies.
  • Stay hydrated: Adequate hydration is essential. On average, men should consume about 16 cups of fluids daily, and women should aim for 12 cups.
  • Consult a doctor: Discuss your hair loss with a healthcare professional. They may check your thyroid levels or recommend other treatments to restore normal function.
  • Quit smoking: Seek assistance from your doctor if you need help quitting smoking. They can guide you to resources and prescribe medications if needed. Websites like SmokeFree.gov also offer valuable support.

Keep in mind that recovery from alcohol and balding may not be immediate. It may take six to nine months for normal hair growth to resume. In cases of hereditary hair loss or other specific conditions, targeted treatment might be necessary for hair regrowth.

FAQs

What does alcohol do to your hair?

Alcohol consumption can negatively affect your hair, leading to issues like dryness and brittleness, as it dehydrates your body and can impact the health of your hair follicles.

Does alcohol thin your hair?

Excessive alcohol use may contribute to hair thinning due to its impact on hormones and nutrient absorption, which are essential for maintaining healthy hair.

Can alcohol cause hair loss?

Hair loss from alcohol abuse may occur due to the way that prolonged and heavy drinking disrupts the nutrient and hormonal balance necessary for hair growth and retention. 

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Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

We can help you initiate and maintain recovery from alcohol addiction at Renaissance Recovery in Southern California. If you need help withdrawing from alcohol safely and comfortably, we can connect you with detox facilities throughout the state. Following detoxification, you can engage with outpatient treatment at our rehab in Huntington Beach, CA.

We offer outpatient treatment at varying levels of intensity, enabling you to pursue your recovery from alcohol addiction without neglecting your personal or professional commitments.

No two addictions to alcohol are the same, so treatment programs at Renaissance are personalized to reflect this. You can expect to access treatments that include:

Start moving toward an alcohol-free life by calling 866.330.9449.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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