What is DHT and How Does it Relate to Hair Loss?
If there is one thing we've all learned over the years, it's the importance of luck.
Some people are world-class athletes in every sport they've touched while others trip over their own feet. Some can learn a new skill or subject without a second thought while others are left behind.
That luck seems to apply to hair loss too. Some men hit their 80s with luscious locks while some men have bald crowns by 30.
If you've never been sure why that happened, allow us to solve the mystery. It all comes down to one hormone: DHT.
What Is DHT?
DHT stands for dihydrotestosterone. It's one of many "male hormones" that allows your body to develop male characteristics and do a variety of distinctly male functions.
Your body doesn't produce DHT in a gland as it does with most other hormones. In fact, a particular natural enzyme converts a certain percentage of your testosterone to DHT.
What Does DHT Have to Do with Hair Loss?
DHT is an important part of your male anatomy, but it has a downside. In many men, it can bind to receptors on the hair follicles in your scalp.
When it happens, it initiates a process called miniaturization. The follicles with DHT bound to them get smaller and weaker. They produce weaker, slower-growing hairs little by little until they stop producing hair altogether.
Interestingly, not all hair follicles are susceptible to this problem. The follicles around the back and sides of your scalp are resistant to DHT, which causes the well-known horseshoe hair pattern some men have.
Why Does DHT Cause Hair Loss in Some People More Than Others?
As we mentioned above, you've no doubt noticed that some men lose more hair than others. Why does this happen?
First of all, it's worth noting that hair loss hits almost all men at some point. In fact, 85% of men will be losing hair by the time they reach 50. However, hair loss starts earlier and has a more severe effect on certain men.
This is because some men are genetically more sensitive to DHT than others. Doctors aren't exactly sure why, but it's clear that DHT sensitivity runs in families.
What Can You Do About DHT-Related Hair Loss?
Hair loss may be a naturally occurring process, but that doesn't mean you need to sit by and watch it happen. Thanks to extensive medical research, there are treatments that have proven to be effective in fighting hair loss.
Using Effective Medication
Now that you know how DHT causes hair loss, how can you stop it in its tracks?
The answer lies in a combination of two medications: finasteride and minoxidil.
Finasteride for Hair Loss
Finasteride is an oral medication. You may know it under the brand name Propecia, but generic versions like the finasteride we offer at Alpha Now are less expensive while being just as effective.
Finasteride binds to that enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. This blocks the enzyme from creating as much DHT as it previously did. With less DHT in your system, your follicles won't feel its harsh effects.
For most men, finasteride is effective for stopping or slowing the progression of their hair loss. In some, though, it can help some of your lost hair regrow.
Finasteride is a prescription-only medication, but that doesn't mean a trip to your doctor. Alpha Now can connect you to physicians digitally who will assess your needs and issue you a prescription, allowing us to send the medication to your home.
Minoxidil for Hair Loss
The other top medication for hair loss is called minoxidil: the active ingredient in Rogaine.
Minoxidil is a topical medication. While finasteride stops your hair loss from continuing, minoxidil fights back against the hair loss that has already happened.
With consistent use, minoxidil reverses the miniaturization process to allow your hair follicles to regain their ability to grow hair. It further helps by pushing your follicles into the hair growth phase and keeping them in that phase for longer.
Like finasteride, minoxidil is FDA-approved as safe and effective. While Rogaine is available over the counter, our Alpha Now minoxidil is more budget-friendly.
Combining Surgery with Medicine
Some men ask, "Can't I skip the medication and have a hair transplant surgery instead?" That is a common myth. In truth, finasteride and minoxidil are crucial follow-up medications for any hair transplant surgery.
While a hair transplant seems to provide fast results, it doesn't do anything to stop that pesky DHT from binding to the transplanted follicles and creating the same problem all over again.
Finasteride and minoxidil are essential for maintaining hair transplant results. In fact, you'd have a hard time finding a transplant surgeon who doesn't recommend that their patients use the medications after surgery.
Reducing Other Risk Factors
The vast majority of men lose their hair because of male pattern baldness: the type of hair loss DHT causes. However, there are other factors that can make the problem worse.
Stress, poor nutrition, and certain underlying health conditions can cause hair loss. If any of these issues are adding to your hair loss, getting them under control will make your finasteride and minoxidil even more effective.
While it's hard to know if you're suffering ill effects from stress, malnutrition, or other issues, it's a good idea to improve these problems regardless.
Find ways to control the stress in your life. Be mindful about maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet. Keep up with regular physical exams and blood work to detect any other problems.
Protecting Your Hair
For countless men, hair loss has become a part of life. They choose to cope with the problem and let their self-esteem take a hit because they think they have no practical choice.
The truth is that hair loss due to DHT is rather easy to combat. All you need is a consistent routine with a combination of finasteride and minoxidil and you can fight back against hair loss.
To start the road toward feeling great about your hair again, reach out to our Alpha Now physicians for your prescription and other recommendations.