It’s estimated that approximately 50 million men in the United States have some degree of hair loss. It’s even more common among men over the age of 50. The most common type of hair loss is male-pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). A significant contributing factor to a progressive loss of hair is hormonal changes, especially a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). So, what is DHT? Here’s a closer look at how this hormone affects hair production.
What Is DHT?
A derivative of testosterone, DHT is an androgen sex steroid and hormone that contributes to the development of male characteristics such as a deeper voice and muscle growth. DHT is critical for certain functions, but it can also negatively affect hair follicles. In fact, DHT is linked to many different types of hair loss in both men and women.
Why Is DHT Both Good and Not-So-Good for Hair Growth?
About 80 to 85 percent of hair growth occurs during what’s known as the anagen phase. It’s followed by phases where hair follicles renew themselves and then remain dormant. DHT is necessary for the growth of body hair everywhere but on the head. While DHT helps with some hair growth, it can also shorten the growth phases and contribute to hair loss.
The reasons for the unusual behavior of DHT aren’t fully understood. It’s believed that the hormone attaches itself to androgen receptors on hair follicles and affects growth during the anagen phase by shrinking the follicles. When this happens, healthy hair is unable to survive. Specifically, it’s the higher levels of the 5 alpha-reductase enzyme that contribute to the conversion of testosterone into DHT and lead to greater hair loss.
How Can DHT Affect People?
DHT tends to become problematic for hair growth when testosterone levels increase. In some instances, DHT levels can be within a normal range and still contribute to a reduction in hair growth. Overall, DHT can affect people by increasing DHT receptors in hair follicles, boosting androgen receptor sensitivity, and increasing the circulation of testosterone. Women are less likely to have significant hair loss associated DHT, although it’s still possible since women do have testosterone.
Male-pattern baldness sometimes occurs without a clear reason. However, it’s more likely to affect men with a family history of hair loss. Some men will notice a change in hair growth in their 20s while others will see signs later in life. There are many products, including those available from Minoxidil Direct, that may help stimulate hair growth and minimize hair reduction related to the DHT hormone.