DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) & Androgenetic Alopecia

Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, plays a significant role in hair loss for both men and women, particularly in individuals with a genetic predisposition for androgenetic alopecia, or hereditary genetic hair loss. Hair loss is a common concern affecting literally billions of men and women of all ages and ethnicities around the world, from housewives to construction workers, world renowned chefs or attorneys. Understanding the effects of DHT on hair follicles and exploring various treatment options is essential knowledge for anyone looking to understand hair loss treatment options.

What is DHT?

DHT, short for dihydrotestosterone, is a potent sex hormone derived from testosterone. It is produced in various body tissues, including the skin, liver, prostate gland, and hair follicles. This hormone plays a crucial role during embryonic life in the sexual differentiation of organs. Additionally, it contributes to the development of secondary male sexual characteristics such as facial hair growth and deepening of the voice during puberty.

While DHT serves important functions during early development and puberty, its role in adulthood is less beneficial. In fact, DHT is primarily associated with negative effects, including hair loss in genetically susceptible individuals and the hypertrophy or overgrowth of the prostate gland.

How DHT Causes Hair Loss

DHT exerts its influence on hair follicles by binding to androgen receptors located within them. This binding process initiates a series of events that ultimately leads to hair miniaturization. Hair follicles undergo a gradual shrinking process, resulting in thinner and weaker hair strands. Over time, affected hairs become shorter and are unable to penetrate the outer layers of the skin, eventually leading to hair loss.

Not all hair follicles are equally sensitive to the effects of DHT. The hair on the back and sides of the head, known as the safe donor zone, tends to be resistant to DHT. This resistance is due to the genetic makeup of these follicles, which makes them less susceptible to the hormone’s damaging effects. This unique characteristic allows hair transplant surgeons to harvest hair from the safe donor zone and transplant it to areas of hair loss, resulting in regrowth.

DHT and Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss, is the most common form of hair loss in both men and women. It is primarily caused by the interaction between genetic factors and DHT sensitivity. People with a genetic predisposition for androgenetic alopecia have hair follicles that are more susceptible to the effects of DHT.

Research suggests that individuals affected by androgenetic alopecia have higher average levels of DHT than those who do not experience significant hair loss. Furthermore, studies have shown that individuals with this condition also possess greater concentrations of androgen receptors in the scalp. This combination of genetic factors and increased DHT levels contributes to the progressive miniaturization of hair follicles and eventual hair loss.

Treating DHT-Related Hair Loss

Fortunately, several treatment options are available to combat hair loss caused by DHT. These treatments aim to reduce DHT levels, block its effects, or stimulate hair growth. Let’s explore some of the most common treatment approaches:

Hair Loss Treatment with DHT Blockers

DHT blockers are medications that inhibit the production or action of DHT in the body. One widely prescribed DHT blocker is finasteride, also known by its brand name Propecia. Finasteride works by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone to DHT. By reducing DHT levels, finasteride can slow down or even reverse hair loss in many individuals.

Another DHT blocker, dutasteride, inhibits both Type I and Type II 5-alpha-reductase enzymes. While dutasteride is not FDA-approved specifically for hair loss, it may be prescribed off-label for this purpose, particularly when finasteride has not been effective.

There are also topical DHT blockers available, including shampoos and solutions that contain ingredients like ketoconazole and saw palmetto. While these topical treatments may not be as potent as oral medications, they can complement the overall hair loss management strategy and promote scalp health, and in some cases inhibit additional hair loss to a certain degree.

Hair Transplant Surgery

For individuals with more pronounced hair loss, hair transplant surgery offers a long-lasting solution. During this procedure, hair follicles are harvested from the safe donor zone and transplanted into areas of thinning or baldness. Since the transplanted hair follicles are resistant to DHT, they continue to grow even in areas prone to hair loss.

Hair transplant surgery has evolved significantly over the years, with techniques such as follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE) providing natural-looking results. It is important to consult with a qualified hair restoration specialist to determine if hair transplant surgery is the right option for you.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is a regenerative treatment that utilizes the growth factors found in a patient’s blood to stimulate hair growth. In PRP therapy, a small amount of blood is drawn from the patient and processed to concentrate the platelets and growth factors. The resulting PRP solution is then injected into the scalp, promoting hair growth and improving hair density.

While PRP therapy does not directly block DHT, it can help improve the overall health and quality of existing hair follicles, potentially counteracting the effects of DHT on hair loss.

Hair Loss Treatment in Atlanta, Georgia

Whether through the use of DHT blockers, topical treatments, hair transplant surgery, or regenerative therapies like PRP, individuals experiencing hair loss have several options to address the underlying cause and achieve their desired hair goals. Consulting with a hair restoration specialist is essential to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to individual needs and expectations.

At HRS Hair Restoration Specialists in Atlanta, Georgia, we believe that early intervention is key when it comes to hair loss. Taking proactive steps to address the effects of DHT can help preserve and restore your hair, providing you with renewed confidence and a fuller head of hair.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance and treatment options.