If you are battling male pattern baldness, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is enemy number one. DHT is a sex steroid present in the body and is a derivative of testosterone. It is, quite simply, the hormone behind male hair loss. Let’s examine its characteristics, and then discuss ways to mitigate its effects.
DHT and hair loss facts:
- DHT is a male sex hormone known as an androgen. Androgens give males their masculine characteristics, such as a deep voice, facial and body hair, and greater muscle mass.
- DHT plays a vital role in the development of male gender characteristics during fetal development and puberty.
- DHT also attaches itself to the dermal papillas (hair root), altering the gens of the follicle and causes miniaturization of the follicle. Hairs become finer and finer. Eventually the follicle falls out in the natural hair cycle, but is not replaced by a new robust follicle, resulting in permanent hair loss.
- The hair on the back and sides of a man’s head is much less susceptible to DHT, resulting in the classic male pattern baldness hair loss at the top of the scalp and crown.
- The amount of testosterone or DHT does not cause baldness. Rather, it is the sensitivity of the follicles to the DHT that determines the extent of hair loss. That sensitivity is caused by genetics. In other words, it runs in the family, but can skip generations and also brothers and cousins within the same generation.
- Balding at the crown caused by DHT has also been linked to increased risk of prostate cancer, according to the Harvard Medical School.
If you are a man experiencing hair loss, one thing is for sure: you are not alone. By age 50 over half of all men in the U.S. will experience some hair loss due to DHT.
Halting DHT and hair loss:
If you are losing your hair, don’t despair. There are ways to block DHT and to even reverse hair loss.
- Finasteride (often sold under the names (Propecia® or Proscar®) can reduce the production of DHT by up to 70% and is the only DHT inhibitor approved by the FDA.
- There are other medical treatments like minoxidil, low level laser light therapy, platelet rich plasma treatments, and ketoconazole shampoo. These do not lower or block DHT but they can slow the progression of hair loss.
- An FUE hair transplant can restore hair to areas where it is thinning or lost. FUE stands for Follicular Unit Extraction. It is a modern, minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that is virtually painless and leaves no linear scar. The hair follicles are removed from the donor site (such as the back or sides of the head), then transplanted hair-by-hair to the thinning or bald area. The procedure usually takes one day, and the result is 100% natural, permanent and undetectable.
It’s okay if you’re not okay with going bald—there are ways to address your DHT and hair loss.