Shedding hair is a completely normal process for humans. In fact, we lose about 50 to 100 hairs from our head per day on average. Losing some strands every day is natural, but losing hair at an extreme rate or losing clumps of hair may be a sign of a bigger problem.
There are many factors that could contribute to balding: aging, hormonal changes, medical conditions, and more. But there may be one big risk factor that we often overlook: drinking alcohol. Believe it or not, the act of drinking alcohol may have something to do with hair loss.
Alcohol & Hair Loss: Are They Connected?
While moderate drinking is not linked to baldness, the effects of heavy drinking or alcohol abuse may eventually lead to hair thinning or loss. Heavy drinking is proven to have an impact on appearance, including in the skin and hair. So even though there is no medically-proven connection between alcohol and hair loss, the health consequences and side effects of drinking too much may contribute to premature balding.
The Link Between Drinking & Hair Loss
First, heavy drinking may lead to nutritional deficiencies. Having a lot of alcohol in the body may contribute to low iron and protein levels. If people have low levels of these nutrients, they are more likely to lose their hair. Also, people normally don’t eat healthy while they are drinking. A poor or unbalanced diet could lead to hair loss or thinning.
And if someone is drinking alcohol, they may become dehydrated. Dehydration can leave hair feeling dry or brittle. Alcohol also decreases a person’s ability to sleep, which will increase their stress levels. High stress levels can directly contribute to hair falling out.
The ingredients in certain types of alcohol can reduce folic acid, which is used for hair growth. Unnatural additives and preservatives can even remove bacteria that promote healthy growth.
Drinking daily will likely affect thyroid levels as well. When thyroid levels are affected, more hormone interactions will take place. One of these interactions is hair shedding or thinning.
Finally, the habits that go along with drinking may lead to hair loss. For example, many people feel tempted to smoke more cigarettes while they drink. There is a direct link between smoking cigarettes and premature balding. Even being in the same room as cigarette smoke often can damage hair follicles and impact growth.
Preventing & Reversing Alcohol-Related Hair Loss
Even though there is no way to prevent alcohol-related hair loss, you can change your habits to decrease the chances of losing or thinning your hair. Consider quitting drinking or giving yourself a drink limit when you go out. If you are not able to stop drinking on your own, it may be time to enroll in an alcohol abuse treatment program. An inpatient or outpatient program will give an individual the tools they need to cope with everyday stressors without drinking.
Hair loss can’t necessarily be prevented, but it can be treated. If you’re losing your hair, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. There are several medications available that can be used to protect or restore the hairline. Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can also keep your hair strong and healthy.
To talk about treatment options for alcohol addiction, please contact our team of substance abuse treatment experts here 267.719.8528.