Stop and Reverse Hair Loss Due to Smoking

Edited by Donna, Eng, Kathy Smith, Nuance and 2 others


Symptoms of Hair and Scalp Damage From Smoking

Studies on the impact of cigarette smoking on health have revealed a strong link between cigarette smoking and hair loss. If you are a male with a history of male pattern baldness in your family, your chances of losing your hair are even higher if you smoke.

Was this helpful? Yes | No

Smoking, and hair loss often go together.

Smoking causes damage to the scalp and hair follicles in two major ways:

  • Toxic chemicals in cigarettes and the smoke from cigarettes poison your blood and kill off hair follicle cells.
  • Smoking lowers your immune system and opens up your hair follicles to all kinds of bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Smoking causes blood vessels to shrink and the scalp does not receive the blood it needs to support normal healthy hair growth.

Smokers are more prone to fungal and bacterial infections oft the scalp.

Signs that you are losing or about to lose your hair due to smoking are:

  • Hair reeking of smoke, a sign that you are smoking too much.
  • Thinning hair all over your scalp.
  • Bald patches, usually irregular.
  • Dry scalp.
  • Itching scalp.
  • Dandruff with gray flakes.
  • Straw-like brittle texture to the hair.
  • Thinner strands growing from hair follicles.
  • Yellowing hair from nicotine.
  • Yellowing scalp from heavy smoking.
  • Thickening of the scalp skin due to toxins and chronic inflammation.
  • Inflammation of the scalp with frequent fungal infections.

Smoking can lead to premature balding, especially if there is hair loss in your family.

Other symptoms that may occur along with these hair loss symptoms are:

  • A persistent cough.
  • Skin wrinkling.
  • Yellowing of the fingers.
  • Grayish pallor to the skin.
  • Bad breath.
  • Yellow teeth.
  • Fungal infections of the fingernails.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Leg pain while walking.
  • Gum disease.
  • Weight loss.

Smoking can lead to patchy hair loss in a beard and a receding hairline.

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms That Cause Hair loss

Quitting smoking can be very unpleasant and can include severe withdrawal symptoms that also cause hair loss such as:

  • Extreme irritability.
  • Feelings of frustration.
  • Stress, which can cause hair loss.
  • Anxiety, which can cause hair loss.
  • Detoxification of the lungs and bloodstream leading to blocked hair follicles.

Playiing with a bracelet may help allay the anxiety that comes with not being able to smoke anymore.

The steps outlined below also treat hair loss associated with withdrawal from smoking.

Steps to Stopping and Reversing Hair Loss Due to Smoking

  1. 1
    Develop a plan for quitting smoking
    Look at your calendar and realize there is no perfect time in your life to quit, although having some days off from work while you are doing it is preferable, allowing you time to deal with your withdrawal symptoms.
    Make a date with yourself to quit smoking and mark it on a calendar.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  2. 2
    Quit smoking by going cold turkey
    Your hair will not stop thinning, discoloring, changing texture or falling out until you quit the nicotine habit. There are many different ways to accomplish quitting smoking including going "cold turkey", butting out a cigarette and not smoking again. Whatever way you decide to quit, your goal will be calm the symptoms of withdrawal from smoking and then try to nourish your scalp so your hair will grow up.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  3. 3
    Quit gradually
    Decrease the amount of cigarettes you have daily, or start by eliminated the cigarette you have first thing in the morning. Then eliminate the cigarette you have before bed. Then don't smoke any cigarettes before noon. Add no cigarettes after 8pm. Slowly you will wean the nicotine dependency. Whatever method works for you - use it.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  4. 4
    Deal with cravings for cigarettes with nicotine gum, nicotine patches, nicotine gum, nicotine inhalers or a nicotine nasal spray
    Nicotine gum is available over the counter at most drug stores. The act of chewing the gum helps replace the psychological habit of lighting a cigarette and the gum itself contains nicotine which can help wean you off the nicotine your body is used to.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  5. 5
    Treat any underlying fungal infections or bacterial infections of the scalp that may have been the result of smoking
    Smokers with a vulnerable immune system may require anti-fungal medication such as Lamatril or Fluconazole to help clear up and heal infected hair follicles.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  6. 6
    Hang around with supportive non-smokers
    Be prepared to change your social circle if you are getting peer pressure to smoke. This can mean making some lifestyle changes such as avoiding the bar that you're used to hanging out with your smoker friends at.
    Avoid hanging out with other smokers or you may not be able to quit.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  7. 7
    Fiddle with something that is not a lighter or a cigarette
    Part of quitting smoking is keeping your hands busy. Some people take up knitting, play with anti-stress balls or simply play with a bracelet or elastic they have around their wrist.
    Finding something to do with your hands can help you quit smoking.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  8. 8
    Get plenty of exercise
    Exercise is crucial to hair health because it helps increase blood flow and the circulation of blood to your hair follicles, necessary for the nourishing and renewal of the hair follicle.
    Getting plenty of exercise can help you quit smoking and increase your circulation.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  9. 9
    Give yourself a scalp massage with coconut oil
    If you were a long-term smoker, your hair will be dry and brittle. Massaging your scalp with coconut oil helps stimulate the scalp increasing the blood flows to it, encouraging hair growth.
    Massaging your scalp with or without oil can help new hair grow unless you have a scalp fungus like ringworm, in which case, the massage could cause the fungus to spread.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  10. 10
    Get plenty of Vitamin C
    Smoking depletes Vitamin C, which causes all kinds of health problems including the shrinking of hair follicles. The lack of Vitamin C in your body can also cause your to be more vulnerable to infections so be sure to eat oranges, lemons, grapefruits, limes, kiwis, strawberries and acai berries. Smokers are so Vitamin C deficient that they may benefit up to 10,000 units of Vitamin C a day.
    Be sure to get plenty of Vitamin C to support new hair growth after years of smoking. Smokers are deficient in Vitamin C.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  11. 11
    Get plenty of rest
    Withdrawal symptoms are exhausting and stressful, which in turn makes you more prone to start again. Rest is also excellent for the improvement of hair follicles.
    Getting plenty of rest is essential for smokers in withdrawal and also for helping renew your scalp and hair.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  12. 12
    Practice meditation in the morning and then again at night to clear your mind to avoid obsessing about your lost habit so much
    The deep breathing associated with meditation is soothing, and the constant inhaling and exhaling remind you that your breath is the source of all life.
    Meditation can help your hair follicles heal and keep you from focusing on your addiction to cigarettes.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  13. 13
    Soak up some Vitamin D daily
    Sitting in the sun and relaxing helps both withdrawal symptoms and it also encourages hair follicles to heal themselves and grow new hair. You can also get vitamin D from eating codfish or taking cod liver oil. Taking up 10,000 IU of Vitamin D a day may help a long-time smoker recover the health of their hair.
    Basking in the sun can address the Vitamin D shortage experienced by most smokers, which is an issue that also affects hair growth.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  14. 14
    Eat cayenne peppers every day
    Cayenne peppers, in both dried and raw forms, can help stimulate circulation in a smoker's body. This helps the smoker detox from the chemicals and toxins that have built up in his or her system, and it also helps bring nourishing blood to hair follicles that may have been dormant for a while due to the effects of smoking.
    Eating cayenne peppers stimulates circulation to the scalp and helps hair restore itself.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  15. 15
    Eat ginger every day
    Ginger not only helps smokers clear their lungs, but it also has the ability to increase blood circulation and dilate the smaller blood vessels. This is very beneficial for the hair follicles. You can add sliced ginger to teas or spicy dishes.
    Ginger stimulates the circulation and helps revive dying hair follicles.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  16. 16
    Eat garlic every day
    If you can, eat raw chopped garlic. Garlic stimulates blood flow and dilates the blood vessels. It also helps the scalp and lungs of the smoker fight off fungal and bacterial infections. Smokers who eat a lot of raw garlic may also be able to get rid of their smoker's cough as well.
    Eating plenty of chopped garlic can help clear smoker's cough as well as prevent fungal infections on the scalp.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  17. 17
    Eat a handful of sunflower seeds every day
    Sunflower seeds are rich in selenium and Vitamin E, which thin the blood and help improve circulation to healing lungs and hair follicles. The healthy fats in sunflower seeds can also help strengthen existing hair strands as well as add moisture to lung cells dried out from smoking.
    Sunflowers are healthy source of Vitamin E, which helps repair and renew hair follicles.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  18. 18
    Finish off every shower with water as cold as you can stand it
    Although a warm shower increases blood flow to some extent, it is the shock of cold water hitting your scalp that increases blood flow to the hair follicles. This treatment is also very good for the often sallow complexions that result after years of smoking.
    Taking an ice cold shower can help revive suffocated hair follicles and encourage new hair growth.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  19. 19
    Photoshop a picture of yourself bald and put it in a place where you will see it every day
    A constant reminder of how smoking might be affecting your looks can help you achieve your goal. You can achieve the same effect by wearing a bald cap from a costume store and taking a photo of that.
    Post a bald photo of yourself in a place where you can see it to remind yourself why you quit smoking in the first place.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No
  20. 20
    When you reach landmarks in your quitting strategy, reward yourself
    People who quit smoking save a lot of money. A good way to use it would be to invest in some hair vitamins, herbs, and teas that can help re-grow hair, such as Biotin 1000 mcg, Green Tea and Holy Basil. You could also invest the money in a good quality shampoo that encourages hair growth such as Mane'N'Tail.
    Green tea helps repair the damage that smoking cigarettes have done to lungs, skin, and scalp.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No

Tips and Tricks

  • Women succeed more at quitting smoking if they schedule their date for quitting after their menstrual cycle is complete for the month.
  • If you can quit cold turkey, it is recommended because most medications and gums prescribed to help you handle the withdrawal symptoms of smoking, also cause hair loss.
  • Do not chew nicotine gum and try to smoke as well as you could give yourself a heart attack.
  • If you are male and smoke twenty or more cigarettes a day then you are at greater risk of losing all of your hair.
  • Keep in mind that if you are exposed to second hand smoke, you may be at a great risk of losing your hair as well.
  • Both women and men should be aware that the contraction of the blood vessels leading to your follicles may not result in hair loss until years after you started the habit and sometimes, if you are a long term smoker and quit, the hair loss might occur anyway due to years of restricting blood flow to your scalp

Questions and Answers

After quitting smoking, how long before hair starts to recover and I'll notice a difference?

How long before I notice a difference in my hair texture and growth? Thank you!

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

I am wondering if smoking causes hair loss?

I have been a long-term smoker

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.



VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

Hi doctor, I smoke and drink every day, and my skin is becoming darker day by day?

I am 32 years old, single woman. I used to smoke and drink every day, and now I have a very heavy hair fall and my skin is becoming darker day by day. I am going to get married next year, and I am looking very ugly now. What can I do now doctor? I will try but immediately I can't quit smoking and drinking but yes, I can improve my diet. I was very fair and my hair was very long sometime back, its been 3 years approx. I do smoke and drink, and now I am looking fat, my skin is very dark and my hair fall is too much.

Was this helpful? Yes | No

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

Does this cost money and is it confidential? That is what I'm wondering first of all?

Hair loss. My once thick wavy hair is falling out and is coarse and brittle like straw. Could this be from nicotine gum? Already did. Could it be nicotine gum? Could the gum also cause my toes to bruise and my toenails to fall off? I also have very dry eyes now and am unable to wear my contacts. Is the gum the cause of these? I'm addicted and scared

Was this helpful? Yes | No

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

I'm a smoker, I have hair loss, how do I control it?

To control hair fall due to smoking, I need to control hair fall!

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

At the nape up to the middle of my head, I have become bald as a baby's bottom?

My hair is very dry and brittle. It has broken off so bad. I can see clean through it. At the nape up to the middle of my head, I have become bald as a baby's bottom. It's still breaking down to the scalp. Not sure if it can grow back. Not sure how to stop the breakage. Can't hide the baldness anymore. At the nape up to the middle of my head, I have become bald as a baby's bottom. I have tried: Coconut oil, castor oil, sulfur 8, Argan oil At the nape up to the middle of my head, I have become bald as a baby's bottom. I think it was caused by: Not sure. Thin hair is in my family, but not baldness, At the nape up to the middle of my head, I have become bald as a baby's bottom

Was this helpful? Yes | No

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.


VisiHow welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.

Article Info

Categories : Hair Loss | Hair Care And Treatment

Recent edits by: Alma, Nuance, Kathy Smith

Share this Article:

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 11,531 times.