On various blog posts I've read about the relationship between nicotine and hair loss. It is mentioned that nicotine starves the hair follicle of its nutrient.

For example here: Nicotine & hair loss

However I was unable to find high quality publications listing evidence for this assertion. Can somebody help me out?

1 Answer 1


As you are talking about non smoked nicotine containing products, I think the hypercritical among us may find ways of questioning it, but it seems possible.

It is pointed out by Rajput (2010) that:

Avoidance of smoking can be beneficial in hair loss, as nicotine is known to decrease blood flow to the hair follicles by causing vasoconstriction and also leads to accumulation of free radicals in the hair roots thus damaging hair roots.[27]

  1. Spencer, D. K. (1998). The hormonal effects of diet on hair loss. In: The Bald Truth. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc, pp37-54.

But, this talks about smoking nicotine containing products.

With Galitovskiy, et al. (2012), an experimental group of mice received subcutaneous injections of the LD50 dose of (−)nicotine hydrogen tartrate of 3mg/kg/day, 5 days per week for 24 months, and:

We demonstrate for the first time that chronic nicotine treatment can induce the development of muscle sarcomas as well as transient hair loss.

But then, mice are not humans. Is it certain that the results with mice would be the same in humans?

"While the mechanism responsible for hair loss in subjects exposed to nicotine or tobacco smoke is unknown" (Babajoni, et al., 2021):

it is thought to be similar to the mechanism by which smoking increases skin aging. Nicotine is known to cause constriction of dermal hair papilla and local ischemia, accumulation of DNA damage, dysregulation of protease/antiprotease systems involved in the hair growth cycle, and upregulation of local pro-inflammatory cytokines implicated in follicular inflammation and fibrosis [40, 41]. A hypothesis exists that exogenous nicotine from smoking can cause overstimulation of the cellular nicotinic acetylcholine receptors leading to desensitization of the receptor. This in turn contributes to hair follicle destruction by activation of programmed cell death pathways present in keratinocytes [42-44].

  1. Trüeb RM. Association between smoking and hair loss: another opportunity for health education against smoking? Dermatology. 2003 [cited 2019 Jun 10];206(3):189–91.
  2. Freiman A, Bird G, Metelitsa AI, Barankin B, Lauzon GJ. Cutaneous effects of smoking. J Cutan Med Surg. 2004 Nov 5 [cited 2019 Jun 10];8(6):415–23.
  3. Yang X, Buccafusco JJ. Effect of chronic central treatment with the acetylcholine analog methylcarbamylcholine on cortical nicotinic receptors: correlation between receptor changes and behavioral function. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1994 Nov [cited 2019 Jun 19];271(2):651–9.
  4. Zia S, Ndoye A, Nguyen VT, Grando SA. Nicotine enhances expression of the alpha 3, alpha 4, alpha 5, and alpha 7 nicotinic receptors modulating calcium metabolism and regulating adhesion and motility of respiratory epithelial cells. Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 1997 Sep [cited 2019 Jun 19];97(3):243–62.
  5. Nguyen VT, Ndoye A, Hall LL, Zia S, Arredondo J, Chernyavsky AI, et al. Programmed cell death of keratinocytes culminates in apoptotic secretion of a humectant upon secretagogue action of acetylcholine. J Cell Sci. 2001 Mar [cited 2019 Jun 10];114(Pt 6):1189–204.


Babadjouni, A., Foulad, D. P., Hedayati, B., Evron, E., & Mesinkovska, N. (2021). The effects of smoking on hair health: a systematic review. Skin Appendage Disorders, 7(4), 251-264. https://doi.org/10.1159/000512865

Galitovskiy, V., Chernyavsky, A. I., Edwards, R. A., & Grando, S. A. (2012). Muscle sarcomas and alopecia in A/J mice chronically treated with nicotine. Life sciences, 91(21-22), 1109-1112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2012.03.041

Rajput, R. J. (2010). Controversy: is there a role for adjuvants in the management of male pattern hair loss?. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 3(2), 82. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956962/

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