Can excessive drinking cause Hair Loss?

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause a whole host of side effects. Alcohol has the ability to alter brain functions. In turn, it can affect various aspects of both physiological, behavioral and cognitive functions. Anything from memory impairment, liver damage and gastrointestinal conditions can be affected by alcohol abuse and addiction. Can excessive drinking cause hair loss?

Does heavy drinking actually contribute to conditions of hair loss? Now there is no evidence proving excessive alcohol consumption directly affects hair damage conditions. Hair damage includes overly dry hair, split ends, hair breakage, hair loss, dandruff and overly oily hair. However, there are many linking factors that show how overconsumption and alcohol addiction indirectly impacts hair growth and hair health.

A man with a receding hair line holding a bottle of beer in his hands and contemplating if excessive drinking causes hair loss.

Malnutrition and Malabsorption

One of the most prominent effects of excessive alcohol is malnutrition and malabsorption. Oftentimes, those who have an alcohol addiction, are hyper-focused on drinking alcohol, how they will find alcohol and when they will have their next alcoholic drink. A balanced and nutritious diet is the least of their priorities. Leaving them to sustain a poor diet.

Most of the vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants the body needs to function and thrive are taken in through food. Veggies, meats, dairy, fats and complex carbs are all important elements for a healthy body. When the body is deprived of those essential nutrients, some of which our bodies cannot produce on their own, it begins to take a damaging toll on the body.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Associate, not getting enough nutrients such as biotin, iron, zinc, and protein can lead to noticeable hair loss. Nutritionists and researchers are also echoing the same sentiments when it comes to the absorption of beneficial nutrients to the body. Micronutrients and macronutrients are important for hair health. And deficiencies in these specific nutrients can cause hair shedding and hair breakage. Without vitamins and minerals, hair will be unable to grow. They are also essential to maintaining a healthy scalp.

Important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that contribute to hair health:

  • Biotin – A form of vitamin B that can be found in meat, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts and sweet potatoes. Biotin helps produce the protein keratin, which makes up the hair, skin and nails.
  • Folic Acid – Another form of vitamin B that helps in the production of new cells including cells that create healthy hair.
  • Iron – A mineral that produces energy to make hormones and help with proper immune system functions. It can be found in seafood, poultry, white beans and dark chocolate. Iron helps carry oxygen to blood cells for growth and repair. This includes the cells that contribute to hair growth.
  • Zinc – A trace mineral that supports the immune system and can be found in fish, meats and fortified products. It plays an important role in the process of keratinization. Keratinization is the formation of the protein keratin, which forms the hair follicle.

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Excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol addiction can also impact the body’s hormones. Drinking on a regular basis can affect the balance of hormones and the overall hypothalamic pituitary thyroid axis (HPT). Your thyroid is responsible for producing necessary hormones for the body. Heavy drinking can lead to a disruption in the proper function of your thyroid. This can create ongoing issues of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Evidence shows both of these conditions can contribute to hair loss and thinning. There have even been studies that link alcohol withdrawal symptoms to various thyroid disorders, which will in turn affect hair health.

Most people who have turned to drinking alcohol do so to help them manage stressful situations or emotions. Alcohol actually does the opposite and can release higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone. When more cortisol is released into the bloodstream, it causes an imbalance. The imbalance and stress in the body also creates stress on hair production.


Ethanol is the key ingredient in alcohol. Ethanol is a diuretic. This means it pulls water out of a person’s body through means of sweating or urination. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to severe dehydration affecting various aspects of your body including the hair, skin and nails. The scalp, hair and hair follicles need adequate hydration to grow and stay healthy. When everything dries out, hair becomes brittle and more susceptible to breakage and damage.

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Other factors that can affect Hair Loss

Although alcohol consumption doesn’t directly cause hair loss, the side effects of drinking can create the perfect opportunities for the development of hair damage. One of the biggest consequences of alcohol abuse is inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the body is linked to inflammation in various systems including the area responsible for hair growth and health. Inflammation can lead to damaged hair follicles, weaken hair strands, scalp dryness, redness and itchiness.

Excessive alcohol consumption also significantly impacts liver function. It makes it more difficult for the liver to break down toxins in the body and can lead to a build of toxins because of the body struggling to expel them. A damaged liver causes poor digestion and a reduction in nutrient intake. With fewer nutrients in the body, other body systems such as hair will have a difficult time growing and staying healthy.

Hotel California by the Sea provides clients with options for a comprehensive treatment plan to help them overcome their alcohol addiction. The alcohol addiction treatment program offers medical detox, residential treatment, IOP and PHP programming. Through evidence-based methods such as CBT, DBT and EMDR therapy, clients will learn effective coping strategies when faced with distressing situations. Such events and emotions often are associated with their alcohol addiction.

Hotel California by the Sea understands that each patient is unique in his or her need for alcohol addiction recovery. Customized treatment plans are tailored for each individual. Supportive social services and aftercare services help clients maintain long-term sobriety. Through a combination of medical and psychological treatment methods, the alcohol abuse program will be able to address every aspect of addiction.