Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is a natural but powerful metabolite of the human body and the main cause of hair loss in both men and women. It’s a chemical derivative of testosterone, created when the metabolism of androgen gets involved with an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. It’s formed primarily in the prostate gland, testes, adrenal glands and hair follicles and interestingly, though it is important in early stages of development, DHT can have serious negative effects in adult life. However, there are clinically proven medications that work to address the effects of DHT, like hair loss.
The Purpose of DHT
Researchers have found that during adult life testosterone, rather than its bi-product DHT, is essential for normal sexual behaviour and important in building protein and in metabolic activities, like the production of blood cells, bone formation, carbohydrate metabolism and liver function.
DHT on the other hand is essential in the development of male characteristics (such as facial hair) during puberty, but later in life it only has “a causative role in acne…prostatic hypertrophy [enlargement of the prostate], and androgenetic alopecia.”*
So ironically, while DHT puts hair on the face early in life, for many men it also takes it away from the scalp.
How Does DHT Cause Hair Loss?
Rather than causing the hair to fall out, DHT actually restricts the follicles ability to produce hair growth. Some people aren’t affected by DHT in the scalp but in those who have a genetic tendency to hair loss, the hair follicles are particularly sensitive to the effects of DHT.
When it attaches itself to the receptor cells of genetically predisposed hair follicles, DHT prevents proteins, vitamins and minerals from providing the needed nourishment to sustain life in these follicles and with this, also causes them to shrink. With miniaturisation, the hair is reproduced at a slower rate meaning it either shortens the growing phase or lengthens its resting stage. The result is thinning hair as the hair shaft becomes finer with each new growth cycle and eventually the hairs stop emerging.
How Do You Treat DHT-induced Hair Loss?
While proper nutrition is important in maintaining hair health, it alone will not counter the effects of DHT. There are only two products that have been licensed by the MHRA for the treatment of hair loss, which means they are both safe and effective in stabilising and reversing hair loss.
Without interfering with testosterone levels, clinically proven hair loss treatments intervene in the process by either counteracting the symptoms to increase blood flow to the hair follicle, or by directly inhibiting the production of DHT.
Experts recommend consulting a hair loss specialist before you consider treatment options, because many factors need to be taken into account, like family and medical history, lifestyle and personal preference. To find out more, contact contact The Belgravia Centre – the UK’s leading hair loss clinic – on 020 7730 6666. Or fill in an online diagnostic form for free expert advice and access to treatment from anywhere in the world.