Understanding DHT’s Role in Male and Female-Pattern Baldness
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of the male hormone testosterone, is one of the main contributors to male-pattern baldness as well as alopecia in women. In the past, scientists believed that testosterone was the cause of male or female pattern baldness. Today, however, scientists realize that testosterone is just one part of the puzzle, with DHT being the main perpetrator of hair follicle death.
Here’s the Basic 3-step process on
how DHT-related hair loss happens:
- Testosterones, as well as the hair follicle enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase, convert into DHT.
- DHT binds to the receptors in scalp follicles.
- DHT “chokes” or shrinks the hair follicles, making it impossible for new hair to grow.
Both men and women can experience hair loss related to DHT. While women don’t have as much testosterone as men, but even a lowers of testosterone can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in women. When testosterone levels rise, DHT can be even more of a problem.
Understanding Hair Loss as a Hormonal Problem
Our body functions at its optimum when hormones achieve a delicate balance. When hormones become unbalanced, the androgens, i.e. male hormones, don’t necessarily have to be elevated to cause problems. In fact, the so-called female hormones, such as estrogen, can give DHT and other androgens dominance when they run low. This can cause hair loss as well as other hormonal problems.
Our hormones run on their own cycle and some increase as we age, while others decrease at certain points in our lives. For example, testosterone levels in some men drop as much 10% every decade once he is 30 years old. For women, hormones decline as menopause approaches. Once a woman has achieved menopause, her estrogen levels continue to drop.
Our hair growth also occurs in cycles, so it’s natural that hair loss can increase in a short term if our hormones are unbalanced. On the other hand, there are also many treatments available to men and women who suffer from alopecia, hair thinning, and other types of hair loss. One of the first things your doctor will want to find out when you’re losing hair is if your hormones are properly balanced.
Treating DHT-Related Hair Loss
Research shows that hair follicles must be exposed to high levels of DHT for a long period of time before they effectively are “shrunk” by the hormone. By interfering in the dysfunction that DHT causes in the hair follicles, alopecia caused by DHT can be stopped if it’s caught early enough. Your doctor will give you medications that will help reduce the hormone in your body.
When treating hair loss, your dermatologist will recommend that you try to promote hair growth and fix anything that contributes to your hair loss, such as hormonal imbalances or nutritional deficiencies. A daily supplement that has 100% of the recommended amount of Biotin is a good vitamin to start with.
There are also many prescriptions drugs and over-the-counter treatments that may or may not help slow hair loss. Some scalp treatments, such as Minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine) can be used for pattern baldness and alopecia. It will promote the growth of new hair, but the hair may be thinner than your previous hair. Similar to a shampoo, it is directly applied as a liquid or foam to the scalp. You may find that you’re more comfortable seeking out other solutions to hair loss, such as extensions or implants. This is a highly personal choice and we recommend you consider the pros and cons of any treatments you’re considering.