DHT: What is it and how does it affect hair loss?

what is DHT

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a male sex hormone, made from testosterone in certain male and female glands and tissues. This hormone is responsible for the production of male sex characteristics such as incresed muscle mass, deep voice and body hair.

Interestingly, DHT is also responsible for the reverse effect in scalp hair growth, meaning that in the overproduction of this androgen, hair follicles will miniaturize, leading to male and female pattern baldness.

The overproduction of DHT may also cause hirsutism in women, ie: excessive facial and body hair growth. The reason for this contrary effect of DHT is due to the fact that the effect of this hormone differs in different organs. While its abundance will encourage hair baldness in the scalp, it will also promote body hair growth.

Keep on reading to find out more on the effects of DHT and its involvement in hair loss/growth, and the best ways to manage its repercussions in hair health.

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What is DHT?

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen, a by-product of testosterone made in the prostate, seminal vesicles, skin, ovaries, hair follicles and other glands and tissues.

The 5a-reductase enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone to DHT which is needed for developing certain male sex characteristics.

What does DHT do to your hair?

Overproduction of the DHT hormone will inevitably affect your hair growth cycle.
With scalp hair growth, DHT will interfere in the stages of hair growth by miniaturizing your hair follicles. This means that it will eventually help hair follicles shrink, making it difficult for them to produce new hair.

On the other hand, an increase of DHT may lead to excessive male-pattern body hair production, ie: coarse hair growth in face, armpits and chest.

What causes DHT to increase?

You’re probably wondering why DHT may increase its production, right?

Most common causes in women are (BPH), androgenic alopecia and hirsutism.
The latter will encourage male pattern body hair growth in women, which can be distressing and quite uncomfortable.

The good news is there are several ways to deal with the effects DHT has on your scalp and body hair growth. Though it is always important to first understand their cause in each individual case so as to better tackle it.

What happens when DHT is high?

High levels of DHT may cause some positive alteration in certain parts of the body, while leading to negative ones in others. A total lack of DHT however, may cause DSDs (Disorders of Sexual Development).

What are the signs of high DHT?

Some most common signs of high DHT levels in women are: increase in male-pattern hair growth (hirsutism) and acne, depression, absent menstrual periods (amenorrhoea), abnormal changes to the genitalia, as well as pattern baldness.

However, DHT may help develop strength and muscle mass and control blood sugar in people with diabetes. It may also help prevent anxiety and depression.

DHT blocker for women

DHT Blockers will do just that: block DHT. In order to reduce the amount of DHT your body may be producing, medications and supplements exist to achieve this.

Studies find that one of the most effective DHT blocker is Minoxidil. Though typically used as a blood pressure medication, when used topically to the scalp, it promotes hair growth.

Other possible blockers for DHT are:

Biotin - it helps produce keratin, a protein found in nails, skin and hair. Biotin can help hair to regrow and prevent it from falling out.

Pygeum bark - is a herb extracted from the bark of the African cherry tree. It’s usually taken orally, as a supplement.

Pumpkin seed oil - has proven to block DHT in men with androgenetic alopecia (scalp hair loss), which leads to believe it may be successful in women as well.

Caffeine - though there is little proof whether caffeine can increase hair growth, some studies suggest that it may help in extending the hair growth phase as well as promoting keratin production and making hairs grow longer.

Vitamin B-12 and B-6 - these are essential nutrients for an overall wellbeing. Though not proven to recover loss of hair, vitamin B-12 or B-6 supplements improve blood flow to the follicles in your scalp, therefore helping make your hair thicker and healthier.

Bacopa is known for its ability to heal wounds as well as promoting antioxidants that nourish your scalp and sends nutrients back into the hair follicle to promote hair growth and helps to treat hair loss.

Rosemary is a common essential oil used to increase hair growth. As this pure extraction gets infused via supplementation it will help strengthen the circulation needed to feed your hair follicles.

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