Question: I'm trying to give up smoking and have started using e-cigarettes. I've read on your website that smoking can cause hair loss but is it the same for electronic cigarettes?
Answer: Hi Charlie, that's great news that you're trying to give up smoking.
Because vaping is such a new phenomenon, studies are still being carried out pertaining to the effects of electronic cigarettes on hair loss. This does not, however, mean that no links exist.
E-cigarettes are a Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) tool, and work by having users inhale an atomized solution which usually contains nicotine. Generally electronic cigarettes come in a range of 6mg to 18mg pharmaceutical grade nicotine strengths, although recently other options containing taurine instead of nicotine have become available. Whilst they omit the chemicals found in tobacco products such as cigarettes, nicotine is still a highly addictive, psychoactive drug.
Nicotine increases the blood pressure and heart rate, acting on the nervous system in a similar way to caffeine. It is known to constrict the blood vessels, which is bad news for hair loss as this can restrict blood flow to the scalp, causing circulation difficulties. By depriving the hair follicles of the necessary nourishment, they can temporarily shut down and prematurely enter the resting ('telogen') phase of the growth cycle. As hair production stops, shedding will increase leading to excessive hair fall.
It is possible to treat temporary hair loss caused by smoking, as well as male pattern hair loss triggered by premature ageing brought on by the effects of smoking on the body.
As e-cigarettes are designed to help people to cut down or stop smoking, they are considered a medical product. As such, the UK medical licensing body, the MHRA, is currently encouraging all e-cigarette manufacturers whose products are available in the UK to seek a licence from them.
In May 2014 a European Tobacco Products Directive setting out regulatory controls came into force and member countries have until 2016 to implement laws based around these requirements. This is the remit of the Department of Health in the UK.
Whilst there is little information or research available on this at present we can currently only hypothesise about the effects of vaping and hair loss based on anecdotal evidence and research into how nicotine functions within the body. We will bring you all the latest news on the effects of vaping and whether electronic cigarettes can cause hair loss as and when studies and clinical trial results are published.
In the meantime, best of luck with giving up smoking. Giving up completely so that you don't need NRT of any kind should provide enormous health benefits all round, as well as financial ones!
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.