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Alcohol and Hair Loss: Is There A Link?
Dr Luciano Sciacca (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Luciano Sciacca (GMC)
Updated on August 9, 2023

Although there are many causes of hair loss, which can be brought on by hormonal changes, your diet, or even anxiety and stress-related hair loss, one lifestyle factor that many people will commonly link to hair loss is alcohol use.

Most of us will enjoy the odd alcoholic drink during a cosy evening in, or on a night out with friends, but could this habit be bringing on hair loss faster than we’d like?

In this article, we’ll look at whether there is any evidence to suggest a correlation between drinking alcohol and hair thinning.

Table of Contents
cocktail being poured

Can drinking alcohol cause hair loss?

There is some evidence that alcohol may be linked to certain hair loss conditions. One study shows that drinking four or more alcoholic drinks is associated with higher rates of temple hair loss, while abstaining from alcohol altogether has been linked with greater crown hair loss [1].

Another study found that excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can make you appear older than you look. However, there was no found link between alcohol use and male pattern baldness specifically [2]. A later study shows that there may also be a link between heavy alcohol consumption and alopecia areata [3].

However, just because the amount of studies that prove a direct correlation between alcohol and hair loss is limited, it doesn’t mean that excessive alcohol consumption can’t contribute to hair loss through the other effects it has on your body and overall health.

drinks being poured at a bar

Effects of alcohol on the body

We all know that drinking too much alcohol isn’t good for our bodies. It can have a range of physical and mental effects.
Here are some of the effects alcohol can have on you and how is can negatively affect healthy hair.

Alcohol can cause nutritional deficiencies

When you’re heavily drinking on a regular basis, alcohol can reduce the number of digestive enzymes released by your pancreas [4]. As a result, your body is unable to effectively break down and absorb nutrients properly. 

Some of the key nutrients that your body can become deficient in over time include zinc, copper, iron, and protein. This lack of nutrients may lead to hair shedding if you develop a deficiency. If you are deficient in any of these nutrients, you could think about taking a hair loss supplement.

Some studies have found that iron deficiency may be a factor in certain cases of female hair loss [5]. Similarly, a 2013 study found that zinc deficiency may contribute to hair loss [6], especially in cases of alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, female pattern hair loss, and male pattern baldness.

Alcohol often leads to smoking

Alcohol is a recognised trigger for social smoking, which can bring a whole new range of adverse side effects for people. One study estimates that 62% of smokers identify as social smokers [7].

According to one study [8], smokers are far more likely to experience hair loss than people who haven’t touched a cigarette. This is most likely due to the chemicals found in cigarettes and tobacco can damage hair follicles.

Learn more about smoking and hair loss.

Alcohol can cause thyroid problems

Heavy drinking (such as binge drinking) on a regular basis can affect the functioning of our thyroid glands [9]. Thyroid glands are responsible for regulating a variety of bodily functions including the hair growth cycle and hair shedding.

In some cases of hypo- and hyperthyroidism, people may see hair loss and thinning hair across the whole scalp, although this is normally only observed in very severe cases.

Social drinking

Alcohol impacts your mental health

Alcohol addiction has been strongly linked with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression [10-11]. Both conditions can lead to telogen effluvium — a type of temporary hair loss that usually regrows when the underlying cause is addressed.

Learn more about anxiety-related hair loss and depression-related hair loss.

How else can alcohol affect your body?

The underlying point is that drinking alcohol is not good for your body. Even if it doesn’t directly cause hair loss, it can cause a range of issues that can potentially end up triggering hair loss.

Conditions like rosacea, scalp psoriasis, anxiety, and depression are all linked to hair loss, and can be exacerbated by alcohol.

How to prevent alcohol-related hair loss

If you’re worried that your drinking habits are affecting your hair growth or hair health, the best way to tackle this is by limiting your alcohol consumption.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average person should have no more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day.

In addition to avoiding excessive drinking, other things that can help you to prevent the chances of hair loss include taking medication, using caffeine shampoo for hair loss, eating a balanced diet, and trying to reduce the amount of stress you feel in your day-to-day life.

Making healthy lifestyle choices also helps keep you in shape and has a positive impact on your quality of life.

dry hair

What else can I do to prevent hair loss?

Hair loss isn’t something you just have to deal with. There are plenty of things that you can do to reduce your risk of going bald and also keep your hair healthy.

The most important thing is cutting down on your alcohol intake. Many people who suffer from alcohol-related damaged hair or hair loss may notice normal hair growth again once they stop drinking as much.

If you do cut down on your alcohol consumption and are still experiencing hair loss, we’d recommend seeing a hair loss specialist. They can diagnose your condition and advise you on the best treatment options.

Book a no-obligation consultation call with one of our hair loss specialists to find out more.

Alcohol and Hair Loss: Is There A Link?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Luciano Sciacca (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Luciano Sciacca (GMC)Updated on August 9, 2023
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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