Alcohol and Hair Loss:
Understanding the Connection

Alcohol is one of the most used substances across the country. In fact, over 85% of U.S. adults reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives with nearly 55% reporting past-month alcohol use. Alcohol holds a strong cultural and social value in the United States, unfortunately this amount of alcohol consumption can lead to a number of problems.

Alcoholism, drunk driving, and alcohol poisoning are all major issues that anyone using alcohol needs to be aware of; however, there are a number of other problems and side effects that occur due to alcohol use. One often overlooked side effect that may occur from increased alcohol use is hair loss.

If you’re noticing your hair thinning out or becoming more fragile, you may be worried and looking at all possible causes for this hair loss. You’re sure to come across explanations that involve hormones and genetics and the food you eat. But one explanation you may come across that may worry you is your alcohol use. This may lead you down a rabbit hole Googling things like “can drinking cause hair loss?” and “can alcohol make your hair fall out?” if you’ve been asking these questions, we can walk you through the connection between hair loss and alcohol use.

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Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Hair Loss?

Nutrient Deficiencies

Research shows that many alcoholics, especially those hospitalized for medical complications from alcohol, experience severe malnutrition. Many alcoholics eat poorly and tend to be lacking in carbs, protein, fat, vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, as well as other important minerals like calcium and iron. Unfortunately, these vitamins and minerals are crucial for proper hair health and deficiencies in these can lead to hair loss issues.

Increased Stress

Alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism for people dealing with stress. While drinking alcohol may act as an immediate and short-term solution for dealing with alcohol, in the long run alcohol use for stress will only compound the problem and the overall effects of stress. As for hair loss, stress and hair loss are very closely related.

In fact, there are three types of hair loss associated with high stress levels: telogen effluvium, trichotillomania, and alopecia areata. While alcohol and alopecia are not directly linked, it can have indirect effectsThat said, stress-induced hair loss doesn’t have to be permanent and if you can work to get your stress levels under control, you may start to see your hair grow back.

Poor Sleep

One of the most overlooked unhealthy aspects of alcohol use is poor sleep. While alcohol may help you initially fall asleep, it is associated with poorer quality sleep and an inability to stay asleep. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation and poor sleep can cause spikes in stress levels and, as we just learned, can cause hair loss problems.

Binge Drinking & Hair Loss

While alcohol use in general can lead to adverse effects that eventually cause hair loss, binge drinking specifically can lead to dehydration problems that can affect the hair follicles. Heavy alcohol use leads to dehydration because the substance suppresses the release of a hormone that signals the kidneys to retain fluid. In turn, this leads to increased urination and excessive loss of fluids.

About 60% of the human body is water, and nearly 25% of a health strand of hair is water, so it should come as no surprise that dehydration can have a serious effect on your hair. In fact, experts say that severe dehydration, like what occurs when drinking, can accelerate hair loss.

In Women

If you are wondering if drinking alcohol and hair loss in women is different from men, you won’t find much of a difference. However, it is important to understand that, in general, women feel the effects of alcohol more strongly than men. So, even if you aren’t a heavy drinker, you still may be dealing with some of the adverse effects of alcohol.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that women “achieve higher concentrations of alcohol in the blood and become more impaired than men after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol.” This means that women may be a bit more susceptible to alcoholic hair loss than men when consuming the same amount of the substance.

Hair needs moisture to be healthy and if you are drinking in excess every night, over time your hair may become dry and dehydrated and cause hair thinning or hair loss. So, before you pick up that glass of wine or bottle of beer at night, just remember the connection between hair loss and drinking alcohol.

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Is Hair Loss from Alcohol Reversible?

Generally speaking, hair that is lost due to the negative side effects of drinking can be remedied and the effects don’t have to be long-term problems. First and foremost, quitting alcohol or cutting back drinking will help you see immediate improvements not only in hair health and dry skin, but can impact your overall mood and physical health in general. While alcohol abuse and hair loss may be the first problems on your priority list, you’ll soon see that cutting back on alcohol will lead to a complete transformation in your day-to-day life. From there, you can make lifestyle changes that are not only conducive with hair health, but better physical health in general.

One thing you’ll want to address if you’re trying to reverse hair loss is nutritional deficiencies, obviously these deficiencies will start to improve with less alcohol but if you ensure that you are getting the proper vitamins and minerals in your daily diet, either through food or supplements, you’ll see great improvement in hair growth and overall health issues.

Also, as we mentioned previously, drinking too much alcohol leads to a number of other adverse effects that impact your hair health, such as increased stress and poor sleep quality. After quitting alcohol, if you work to focus on these areas and improve them, you will likely see big improvements in your hair health.

Overcome Alcohol Addiction at Reflections

If you or someone you love is dealing with alcohol abuse or addiction, there is help available. Looking for a treatment program can be difficult, especially if you don’t know exactly what you should be looking for.

But, our team at Reflections has your back. A few of the most important things to look into when searching for an alcohol rehab is to ensure that the treatment program uses evidence-based treatment options and has expert staff in place to administer treatment.

At Reflections, our Ph.D-led team has decades of experience treating addiction. We create personalized treatment plans that include both evidence-based and holistic care options to ensure that all clients are getting the treatment they need. To learn more about how we can help you, contact our admissions team today.

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