What Is DHT?
Dihydrotestosterone or DHT is a male sex steroid and hormone also known as an androgen, a hormone made from cholesterol. A completely natural and essential part of our bodies. It’s responsible for male characteristics like a deeper voice, the amount of muscle you gain, facial, and body hair.
It also shows up in women although it is converted to estrogen. It’s also responsible for hair loss in women. However, different solutions are required to handle female pattern baldness than men.
DHT is a stronger hormone than testosterone and in fact, some testosterone is converted into DHT within our bodies by an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR).
Does DHT cause hair loss?
Most importantly for us, DHT is thought to be responsible for hair thinning and eventually hair loss. It can cause your hair follicles to shrink and eventually stop working.
Why? We don’t exactly know. Androgens like DHT are responsible for all kinds of body hair but, the reverse seems true for the scalp.
That doesn’t make sense right?
What causes DHT to increase and why does it cause hair loss?
As with many things the full picture is not completely understood. But, here’s one theory on the cycle of DHT and thinning hair.
There is a certain amount of pressure on your scalp at all times. As we age the fat tissue on the scalp deteriorates and the pressure goes up. When the pressure goes up, the hair follicles have a more difficult time producing hair growth. As a result, your body produces more DHT to try to grow the hair. The increase in DHT causes more erosion of the fat tissue and the pressure goes up further creating a cycle of hair loss.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4174066/
It’s thought that the initial cause of the deteriorating of the scalp is testosterone at puberty. This might be due to individual sensitivity to hormones. More on that below.
So DHT alone is responsible for hair loss?
Is that true? Not exactly.
It’s not DHT ALONE that causes hair loss or more specifically androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness).
It’s true that the hormone is in part responsible for hair loss. But, some men have a healthy head of hair with higher levels of the hormone. Why? It essentially comes down to genetics.
There are a few studies on this exact problem. I’ll paraphrase the study below:
DHT is a powerful sex hormone that may contribute heavily to the development of male pattern baldness. These study results, as well as others, show that the most important part of hair loss is an individual’s DHT sensitivity based on genetics and their reaction to sex hormone concentration.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171668/
In this study, they found that having more DHT in your body did not increase alopecia (hair loss) in all patients. They tested individuals without hair loss vs. those with it.
So from the study, we can gather that it has nothing to do with how much DHT you produce, we all produce it, but, it’s directly linked to genetics. Linked to genetics by how sensitive your scalp is to the hormone. That’s why some folks have hair loss and others don’t.
In fact, some body builders lose their hair due to higher DHT levels from testosterone injections and steroids. That’s not because of the DHT alone. The key is that hair loss was inevitable for those specific men. But, their increase in DHT sped up the process.
Sensitivity to DHT, based on your genetics, is the key to hair loss.
So I can stop hair loss by blocking DHT?
For most men, the key to stopping hair loss starts with blocking DHT.
However, that is only one piece of the puzzle.
We know that because there are other medicines that can help grow hair and we don’t know why exactly.
For example, minoxidil is one of two medicines that are most effective at treating hair loss and it does not block DHT. The other medicine being finasteride. Finasteride is the number one medicine that is FDA approved for stopping hair loss. It’s a DHT blocker.
The most effective way to start combating hair loss is to use both finasteride and minoxidil in conjunction.
What is a DHT Blocker?
If you’re taking a “DHT blocker”, it’s actually inhibiting the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. The enzyme 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR).
That will help disrupt the cycle of hair loss. But, please note like in the study above, the fat tissue lost as you age does not replenish itself. Meaning the earlier you are able to disrupt the cycle, the higher chance you have of growing hair again.
Some men are only able to slow down and possibly stop hair loss but, have more difficulty growing hair back.
DHT blockers are the most effective way to stop hair loss right now. That’s because they actually work!
Is it worth taking Finasteride to block DHT?
The answer is simply: yes.
It’s the most effective DHT blocking treatment. And it has minimal side effects. Very few men experience side effects which typically include lower libido, which returns when you stop taking finasteride.
Finasteride requires a prescription to get, but, you can get it online.
It’s most effective at stopping hair loss the earlier you start taking it. For a majority of
Are there other options besides finasteride?
There are other options as far as blocking DHT. Natural ones even. But, none of those are scientifically proven to work.
That doesn’t mean other options don’t work. It just means that their effectiveness is not known and most likely lower than finasteride.
Saw palmetto is a very commonly used natural DHT blocker.
In addition, there are other options to stop hair loss too. I mentioned minoxidil as the 2nd most effective medicine for hair growth.
What about ketoconazole?
Ketoconazole shampoos are also recommended
I’m going to paraphrase the study below.
The data collected from the study showed that ketoconazole might strongly effect male pattern baldness. And a specific type of fungus on the scalp known as Malassezia might contribute to inflammation resulting in hair loss. The importance of these study results needs a larger amount of test subjects before it’s convincing.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9669136
The big three
Finasteride, Minoxidil, and Ketoconazole shampoo are known as the big three for hair loss. These three tools are the most commonly suggested solutions. Finasteride being the big DHT blocker.
While ketoconazole isn’t approved specifically for hair loss, it is helpful.
To get finasteride, you’ll need a prescription but, if you don’t want to talk to your doctor about hair loss, there is a way to get it online.
There are a few different places to get it but,