As you start to research possible causes of your hair loss, you will find a lot about dihydrotestosterone (DHT) baldness. DHT is a common factor in both male pattern baldness and hair loss in women, according to the American Hair Loss Association. But what exactly is DHT?
What Is DHT?
DHT is a male sex hormone created when certain enzymes convert testosterone in men’s testes and prostate and women’s ovaries. DHT is a more powerful hormone than testosterone that actually is essential for most hair growth — except on the head. There, it may attach to hair follicles for a considerable time.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, DHT triggers receptors to begin miniaturizing the follicles. “The sensitivity of those receptors is a genetic trait. Your levels of DHT may be quite normal for your age and gender but everything depends on the receptors,” Sanusi Umar, MD, a dermatologist at Dr. U Hair and Skin Clinic in Manhattan Beach, CA tells WebMD Connect to Care.
With male pattern baldness, miniaturization of the hair follicles leads to a shorter growth phase and eventually to softer, lighter hairs that disappear. In women, DHT production can lead to hair loss conditions called androgenetic alopecia, telogen effluvium, anagen effluvium, and traction alopecia.
“DHT baldness can become evident on your scalp (usually on the front or top) in as little as three months,” Anna Chacon, MD, and dermatologist in Miami, FL tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Without treatment, its impact typically is total in one to three years,” Umar says.
Ways to Treat DHT Balding
If your scalp’s tendency toward DHT baldness is caught early enough, your dermatologist may recommend:
- Finasteride — This is a prescription pill that inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT. It is FDA-approved for men only. Other inhibitor medications are in research or development, according to the American Hair Loss Association.
- Various lifestyle adjustments — Weight loss can help inhibit DHT production, and certain diets may minimize DHT’s effects on your hair follicles, Umar says. Giving up smoking and taking up yoga or an exercise regimen helps reduce the stress that may be causing harmful scalp inflammation.
- Chacon often counsels patients with hair loss to avoid headbands, hair ties, and clips. Giving up hair colorings, treatments, and shampoos containing sulfates also helps to slow hair loss, Chacon says.
- Vitamins and herbal products — Green tea and turmeric can help mitigate the impact of DHT, Umar says. Supplements of niacin, biotin, and other vitamins can help your hair loss treatment by increasing blood flow to the scalp or reducing stress and inflammation.
Don’t Wait. Get Help Today.
The sooner you address the symptoms of hair loss, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.