Will drinking alcohol make my hair fall out? And how much does it take? What if I just drink too much? What if I’m a binge drinker? What if I’m an alcoholic?
These are common questions, but don’t worry, the basic notion is a myth. Well, maybe not a myth, just more of an overstatement. It’s not correct to say, “Alcoholism causes hair loss.” But that’s not the end of the story. There is always a but.
There are many variables that contribute to hair loss and drinking alcohol in excess can certainly contribute.
Alcohol: Robbing You of Good Hair
Well then, how are heavy drinking and hair loss related? Let’s look at a few examples:
- Drinking alcohol causes dehydration. Ever had “cotton mouth” after a night of drinking? Dehydration also causes dry, brittle hair, and dandruff. Dry, brittle hair is more likely to fall out or break off, and dandruff can make hair loss problems worse.
- Research shows 90% of our hair is in a constant state of growth. Excessive alcohol use can lower iron levels, leading to a hair loss condition called “telogen effluvium.” The hair stops growing, causing it to fall out too soon. New growth is limited, creating a vicious cycle of no growth and losing existing hair.
- Alcohol increases estrogen levels, especially after a night of drinking. For chronic drinkers, estrogen levels remain high, which can cause hair to break at the roots and fall out.
- Boozing decreases levels of zinc in the body. Zinc is essential for healthy hair growth. Low levels of zinc speed up the aging process of the hair, causing more to fall out.
Hair requires constant nourishment to stay healthy and grow well. Alcoholics are more likely to be in the fast food drive through than Whole Foods. After all, it saves money for the next pint of vodka!
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Alcoholic: Sapping Vitamins. Leaving Toxins
Since alcoholics rarely have a balanced diet, vitamin deficiencies contribute to weakened hair. Excessive drinking burns up vitamins B and C. Screwdrivers are not a good source of vitamin C! Alcohol destroys folic acid. Folic acid is a necessary for maintaining healthy, strong hair.
Your adult beverages also leave something behind: toxins. These toxins continue to circulate around the body, leading to all kinds of damage, including hair loss.
Liver damage is a well-known side effect of chronic alcohol abuse. But liver damage can also impact hair growth. The bile in the liver helps with digesting food. Damage to the liver can cause poor digestion and reduce the intake of nutrients. Fewer nutrients, less hair growth.
Alcohol: No Beauty Sleep
Drinking alcohol before bed may seem like it will help you sleep. But studies show it negatively affects the quality of sleep. This can lead to feeling tired, irritable and stressed. The link between stress and hair loss is well known. So drinking can indirectly cause hair loss through having a poor night’s sleep and being stressed about it. Find stuff to cut down on stress. Maybe try yoga instead!
Now you know: Alcohol itself doesn’t cause hair to fall out, but it definitely contributes.
Everybody reacts differently to using alcohol. The time to start worrying is when your normal pattern of hair loss changes.
The good news is that adopting healthier habits can sometimes help hair come back. The best way to is to stop or reduce drinking. Next, improve your diet. Spend more time at Whole Foods and less at the fast food drive through! Plus look for supplements with folic acid, complete B vitamins, and iron. Look for healthy ways to reduce stress. Buy a yoga mat and use it!
And hey. If you really are drinking too much. You know help is just a phone call away, right?
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