DHT: What It Is And How To Block It
What Is DHT?
Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes
Summary: In this blog we detail and explore what DHT is, and how it affects hair loss. We’ll discuss how DHT can contribute to female and male pattern baldness, what to do to reduce the effects of DHT and what are effective, natural DHT blockers. Read on to discover more about DHT, what it is, how it contributes to hair loss and thinning and how to help protect your hair from DHT.
Eva Proudman MIT IAT is a much sought after independent trichologist and hair loss specialist with an excess of 18 years’ experience in her field. She’s Cel’s Consultant Trichologist and has answered some questions for Cel in this blog!
Eva is regarded by both the hairdressing industry's elite and by high profile global brands as the go-to expert for everything related to hair loss and trichology. Eva is also a Board Member for the Institute of Trichologists responsible for continued professional development and education.
Did you know that 25% of men experience hair loss, thinning, and receding by the age of 30? This percentage increases to 40% by the time men are 40, and 85% by the time men are 50. And, almost all cases of male hair loss are down to genetics.
If hair is falling in a receding pattern, typically from the temples and crown of the head to start off with, this usually means you’ve got male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia which accounts for 95% of male baldness cases.
When it comes to women, androgenic alopecia or female pattern hair loss differs slightly. “The age of onset is [usually] later compared to male pattern hair loss, [typically] occurring in the 50s or 60s. Occasionally, FPHL in women may start earlier than this, in the 30s or 40s. FPHL is not usually associated with any scalp symptoms.”
And in females, female pattern hair loss usually appears as a “widely spread thinning of the hair, mainly on the crown of the scalp. The hairline at the front of the scalp often remains normal.”
So, androgenic alopecia affects the sexes differently but unfortunately, the common denominator is that both are normally triggered by DHT (dihydrotestosterone) activity - the hair loss hormone. This is either because there are high levels of it in your system, or you have a sensitivity to it which is commonly inherited.
What is DHT?
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen, and an androgen is a sex hormone that contributes to typically “male” characteristics like body hair. DHT specifically is derived from testosterone, but both exist to primarily benefit the body by helping maintain muscle mass and promote fertility and sexual health.
Testosterone is converted into DHT by the body by using an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (5-AR). Once DHT is in the bloodstream, it can travel to the scalp and attach to the hair follicles causing them to reduce the capability of the follicle when producing healthy hair.
Having a large amount of DHT in the body, which some people do, can also cause other issues alongside hair loss like prostate enlargement and/or cancer, slow healing of the skin and coronary heart disease. Having too little in the body can also have adverse affects, particularly during puberty.
DHT levels are different in every body but are usually inherited. So, if male or female pattern hair loss exists in your family, then it’s more likely than not that it will have been passed on to you.
How Does DHT Cause Hair Loss?
Eva says “DHT comes into play if you’ve got androgenetic alopecia. Androgenetic alopecia comes in two formats, so it comes in male pattern or female pattern and it’s progressive. There’s three things that give you androgenetic alopecia: you can inherit the gene, so if parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles have hair loss, you may inherit that gene [too].
“You can have a sensitivity to androgens, which are hormones and it may be the hormone testosterone, and yes - [females] do produce testosterone. When that binds to the hair follicle, it converts to what we call dihydrotestosterone (DHT). What DHT does is it miniaturises the hair, so through each growth cycle that hair goes through it gets thinner and thinner until it can’t grow at all.”
DHT Blocker: What's Good?
Eva says: “A treatment that we use predominantly with men - you can use quite a strong drug called Propecia and it’s a chemical DHT blocker. What we tend to use with ladies, and also with younger guys that have got issues with syndromes and things you can get from the pharmaceuticals, we would use an extract of Saw Palmetto. Saw Palmetto is a natural DHT blocker, and there have been trials done - it does effectively block DHT and brings density back into the hair.”
Saw Palmetto can be found in Cel’s Microstem Shampoo and Conditioner which both work to prevent hair loss, promote new hair growth, and strengthen existing hair and it’s also located in Cel’s Hair Thickening Mask which is designed to strengthen and smooth dry, damaged, and frizz-prone hair.
Eva continues: “[So, alongside proven treatments like Propecia and/or Minoxodil], I’d also be adding in a serum like Cel’s Hair Stimulation Formula, that’s got lots of stimulating properties as well, because it’s very important to stimulate the microcirculation of the scalp, to get those follicles active and to get that hair to be as full and to last in the growing phase as long as possible, so I’d combine hair care and pharmaceuticals.”
Another touted natural DHT blocker is biotin (vitamin H). It boosts and metabolises keratin levels in the body which is a protein that contributes to the structure of hair, skin and nails. Biotin is thought of as a useful vitamin that has been shown to help hair regrow and prevent existing strands from shedding. Biotin is present in Cel’s Hair Stimulation Formula.
How Quickly Can DHT Blockers Work?
Eva concludes: “If you’re on a treatment path, you should start to see results when using the Cel products within around 4 months, [and it’s] 4 months because that’s the [common] length of a growth cycle. So, naturally shed hair has shed, new hair is regrowing - going back into the growth phase - so, over that duration you should see the effects of the Cel products.
“I work with a scalp microscope, so when I examine a patient, I look very much down at the scalp, at the follicles, and really see each strand of hair. Typically, if I put someone on a recovery regime, as early as 4 months I can see [improvement] on the microscope even though it might not be so discernible to the naked eye. But generally, you’re looking anywhere between 4 and 6 months for you to start to really feel and see it.
“What you have to remember with hair is, you didn’t lose your hair overnight, [so] you don’t recover it back as quickly but if you’re on the right treatment path and you’ve been doing everything you’ve been advised to do, then you do get great results.”