Since men suffer with baldness much more often than women, most people think that hair loss is caused by too much testosterone. Although testosterone is related, it is actually thought to be more closely related to Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. The exact relation of DHT is not completely understood, but there does seem to be a strong correlation with genetic factors as well.
DHT is an androgenic hormone that is produced in the gonads. During fetal development DHT plays a vital role of the development of the penis and prostate gland. It is also thought to be the hormone that causes males to lose the light hairs that cover a child’s body and start to grow pubic, facial, and armpit hair during puberty. DHT is also converted in the body from testosterone by an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR). Treatments that affect the 5-AR enzyme have been shown to help slow the hair loss process, and in some cases reverse it.
Role in Hair Loss
There is still much to learn about exactly how DHT is related to hair loss and baldness, but it is thought that DHT causes hair follicles to shrink. The shrinking of the hair follicle will cause the shaft of the hair to be thinner, and eventually the follicle can completely fail, causing baldness in that area.
- Finasteride is a prescription tablet that can be taken by mouth daily to inhibit the type 2, 5-AR enzyme, which can decrease the production of DHT.
- Minoxidil is available as an OTC topical treatment that helps promote blood flow to the hair follicles and has been shown to help with male pattern baldness.
- Saw Palmetto is a dietary supplement available without a prescription that is thought to help prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT. As with all dietary supplements, it is important to get a high quality product from a reputable company like OrthoMolecular or Pure Encapsulations.
- Specialty combination products are also available at Genesis Pharmacy services. At Genesis, different combinations of prescription and OTC drugs can be combined in topical solutions or foam to get a more thorough treatment regimen.
Depending on the cause of your hair loss issues, there may be some simple and effective treatment options available for you. It is very common for men receiving testosterone treatments to have increased DHT because the body doesn’t always know what to do with the extra. That is why these patients can commonly have increases in other hormones like Estradiol and DHT. The key to the treatment in these cases is to try to slow the conversion rate. This helps by increasing the free testosterone, which makes you feel better, while decreasing the conversion to the unwanted hormones like DHT, which prevents side effects like hair loss.