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Everything About Hair Loss & DHT


Published on October 05, 2020

Are you apprehensive about too much hair in your comb and shower, leading to a reduced hair volume and baldness? Does thinning of hair run in your family? Is hair loss a big concern for you? Is it messing with your confidence?

Then you are at the right spot. This article goes in-depth and discusses some key concepts linked to hair loss and technique to prevent it.

The Hair Growth Cycle

In order to achieve the desired hair length, some people either trim their hair regularly or leave them out to grow. Regardless, the hair growth cycle remains undisputed.

Your hair consists of a hair follicle and shaft. Present underneath the scalp, the hair follicle provides anchorage to the hair into the scalp. The hair shaft is the strand of hair made up of proteins. There are three phases of the hair growth cycle.

1. The Anagen Phase

The first phase is called the Anagen phase and corresponds to the growth period. During this phase, rapid cell division occurs in the hair follicle’s bulb, resulting in the growth of the hair strand. The hair length increases at the roots, with active growth for 2 to 7 years before the dormant period of the hair follicle is reached. During this period, the hair strand can lengthen from 18 to 30 inches long. The final length of the hair varies from individual to individual depending upon their genetic makeup, health, age, and other factors.

2. The Catagen Phase

The Catagen phase in the hair growth cycle is short and lasts for about 2 to 3 weeks. This is the transitional period during which the growth of hair stops, and it gets disconnected from the blood supply. This type of hair is called a club hair.

3. The Telogen Phase

The final stage of hair growth, the Telogen Phase, starts with a resting period and lasts for about 2 months. During this period, the club hair is in the resting phase, and new hair starts to grow beneath it.

Subsequently, the resting club hair falls out, letting the new hair strand to emerge from the scalp. This falling of hair is natural, usually doesn’t get noticed, and thus shouldn’t be alarming. The typical rate of hair shedding per day is 50 to 100 strands. Every hair strand undergoes the growth phase separately at different timings; thus, you won’t notice hair loss in patches simultaneously.

What Is DHT?

Androgenic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness, is a widespread cause behind male and female hair thinning. Although highly prevalent in women, it is more common in men. On average, around 30 million women and 50 million men in the U.S. suffer from this condition.

The phenomenon of alopecia is aggravated by the activity of sex hormones in the body, thereby called “androgenic” alopecia. One of the androgens responsible for this mechanism is Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which brings about the development of male sex characteristics.

How Is DHT Produced In The Body?

DHT is produced in your body as a byproduct of the sex hormone, testosterone. 5α-Reductase is the enzyme that breaks down about 10% of testosterone into DHT in tissues, including skin, prostate, liver, and hair follicles. While DHT results in body hair growth, it interestingly leads to loss of scalp hair faster and earlier in life. Consequently, blocking this androgen is what makes hair loss therapies effective in preventing hair fall.

How Does DHT Impact The Hair Follicles And Cause Miniaturization?

Research has shown that hair follicle miniaturization is the conversion of hair from terminal to vellus type. This process occurs at the follicular level when anagen to telogen ratio reduces, thereby increasing hair loss. It means that the anagen (growth) phase’s duration is reduced while the telogen phase is prolonged.

Male or female pattern hair loss occurs due to the shortening of the growth phase, which takes place with the miniaturization of the follicles. This signifies that hair cannot grow as long as it would have otherwise grown.

The anagen phase gradually narrows down so much that the new hair does not emerge from the scalp. Telogen hair type is poorly anchored in the scalp, allowing it to fall out easily.

The small-sized follicles lead to thinner hair shafts with each growth cycle. The hair eventually becomes vellus type – soft and light hair type present on an infant’s body.

How Is DHT Blocked To Prevent Hair Loss?

Fortunately, the action of DHT can be blocked by compounds known as ‘DHT blockers.’ DHT-blocking products include shampoos and oils containing DHT-blocking ingredients like biotin, saw palmetto, ketoconazole, etc. These agents decrease the production of the Alpha-5 Reductase enzyme, which then inhibits the formation of DHT. A combination of these active ingredients in shampoos and oils works by reducing the excess amount of DHT. Thus, it produces a favorable environment for hair growth.

Finasteride (generic name: Propecia) is also a proven DHT blocker. It is a prescription tablet that works well in preventing hair loss and receding hairlines. Finasteride binds to the 5α-Reductase enzyme, leading to the inhibition of DHT production.

Using DHT-Blockers To Prevent Hair Loss

The phenomena of hair thinning in males and females occur due to numerous reasons, including underlying health conditions. However, genetics is the most significant factor in male and female pattern hair loss. DHT is another crucial player in causing male or female pattern baldness and must be blocked by using products containing proven DHT-blockers. For example, Hair Restoration Laboratories has a Hair Restore line of products that utilized what the company calls its DHT Halting Technology. Its lineup of shampoos, conditioner and serums contain a boatload of ingredients, such as saw palmetto, caffeine, green tea extract, pumpkin seed oil, and others that are clinically proven to help block DHT when applied topically. By helping to block DHT from attacking your hair follicles, male and female pattern hair loss can be prevented and your follicles can grow new and thicker hair.

In sum, if you wish to halt the progression of alopecia, you need to address and counter that adverse impact of DHT. If not kept in check, androgen alopecia will continue to progress and become worse with time.


References:

1. Ellis K. Hair growth cycle – The 3 stages explained. The Hair Lab. (2018). https://www.growgorgeous.co.uk/blog/the-hair-lab/how-does-hair-grow/

2. Anonymous. (August 2020). Androgenetic alopecia. Genetics Home Reference. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/androgenetic-alopecia

3. Jewell T. What You Need to Know About DHT and Hair Loss. (January 2019). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/dht#purpose-and-function

4. Levy B. DHT and Male Hair Loss Explained. Hims. (September 2017). https://www.forhims.com/blog/dht-and-male-hair-loss-explained

5. Ravi A. The Best DHT Blockers & How They Can Combat Hair Loss. (July 2020). https://skinkraft.com/blogs/articles/what-is-dht