Alcohol and Hair Loss
Drinking large amounts of alcohol, or drinking alcohol too often, is known to increase the risk of a number of medical conditions, like Cancer and Diabetes, which can in turn lead to hair loss. Something most people don't realise, however, is that alcohol can also trigger hair loss directly. If you're starting to get a bit thin on top, don't put it all down to genetics or bad luck – it might be time to rethink the way you drink.
Alcohol and HormonesEverybody knows that hormone levels can have an effect on your hair, but did you know that alcohol consumption can have an effect on your hormone levels? If you regularly exceed the recommended daily alcohol limit of two to three units for women or three to four units for men, your oestrogen levels can rise as a result.
Testosterone tends to get most of the blame for hair loss, but high oestrogen levels can be just as damaging. Although oestrogen levels are naturally higher in women, the hormone does occur in men too. Moderate levels can help to prevent hair loss but high levels can trigger telogen effluvium.
Alcohol and NutritionDrinking too much alcohol can affect your body's ability to absorb and distribute several key nutrients:
- Iron – too little iron can cause anaemia and prevent hair follicles receiving the nutrients they need. It can also damage them structurally.
- Zinc – this trace metal is essential to the glands that secrete oil on your scalp. Without it, your hair will become brittle and break easily.
- Folic acid – too little folic acid makes it harder for hair follicles to repair themselves and stay healthy. It may also lead to premature greying.
- Vitamin C – this is essential to the production of collagen, which binds hair together. Without it, your hair can split and fall apart.
Hangovers and Hair LossAlcohol doesn't just damage your hair when you drink it – it can keep on having an effect the morning after. Oestrogen levels tend to peak when you're hungover. You're also likely to feel dehydrated, and by the time you feel it, it's already doing serious damage to your scalp.
If you still want to go out and get drunk from time to time, drinking two pints of water before you go to bed will not only make your hangover less severe, it will reduce the damage to your hair. Don't comb your hair the morning after – wait until you feel better, as this will mean your follicles are less stressed and you're less likely to pull out excess hair.
These problems do not mean that you should give up alcohol altogether. There is no evidence that moderate drinking is bad for your hair, even if you have an existing hair loss condition. If you think your alcohol consumption levels may be slightly too high but you don't want to cut back, a Healthy Diet and exercise schedule will help to mitigate the damage.