DHT Blocker: Do They Work?
Plenty of people rock a bald head and pull it off, but it definitely isn’t for everyone. However, losing your hair due to balding or thinning hair is much different from getting a clean cut shave for your scalp. If you suffer from androgenic alopecia, commonly called male pattern baldness, you may be looking for any and all remedies that claim to slow or stop hair loss and help with hair regrowth. One of the most popular methods on the market is the DHT Blocker, which can be consumed in an oral medication, applied topically, and found in certain products and shampoos. There was once a lot of rave behind this supposed hair loss solution and they have remained pretty popular since they originated. Some people may even swear by them, but how, and how well, do they work? It’s different for everyone, but here’s the rundown on the ever popular hair loss treatment.
What is DHT and What Does It Do to Your Hair?
It’s no secret that hormones play a role in hair growth and thinning hair. However, some hormones may have a bigger hand than you think. DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, is a male sex hormone that can play a huge role in hair loss. In fact, DHT is also linked to other serious conditions, like an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.
In the body, the 5-alpha-reductase (or 5-AR) enzyme is converted to the sex steroid DHT. These DHT levels are partially responsible for the way a male develops, even before birth, including the formation of a deeper voice and the prevalence of body hair, as well as the formation of the male sex organs. The DHT levels are imperative in the creation of a man’s body hair, such as armpit hair and pubic hair, but are ironically thought to be potentially detrimental to the growth of hair from the scalp.
There are three stages to hair growth: The first stage, called the anagen stage, works to produce new hair growth and typically lasts anywhere from two to eight years; The second phase, called catagen phase, allows the new cells bond with the existing hair shaft and the follicle to renew itself. This phase lasts about two weeks; The last phase is called the telogen phase, which lasts around three months, and is when the hair follicle rests. After the third phase, the hair follicle then returns to the anagen phase again. Hair loss, specifically related to androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, occurs when the hair follicles begin to “miniaturize,” which means the anagen phase gets shorter and the telogen phase increases. Eventually, the anagen phase becomes so short that there is not the time for new growth before the follicle returns to the telogen phase.
DHT is thought to bind to the androgen receptors in the hair follicles, which may help to kick-start the miniaturizing process. Researchers are not sure why DHT production triggers this reaction, but some have speculated that certain males (due to genetic factors) are more susceptible to DHT binding in their hair follicles, which may explain why some men suffer from hair loss while others do not.
Do DHT Blockers Cure Male Pattern Baldness?
DHT blockers typically reduce the production of the 5-AR enzyme, which eliminates the possibility of it being converted to extra DHT production. There are two types of this enzyme, including:
- 5-Alpha-Reductase Type 1: This type of 5-AR is specifically found in small glands in the skin, called sebaceous glands, which are responsible for producing the skin’s natural oils, called sebum. This type of the 5-AR enzyme is responsible for glowing, healthy skin.
- 5-Alpha-Reductase Type 2: The second type of this enzyme is found in the genitourinary tract (the combination of the urinary tract and reproductive system) and the hair follicles. Type two is the concerning enzyme in the subject of hair loss.
Medications, such as Finasteride (approved in 1997 by the U.S. FDA) can be taken both orally and by injection. The blockers specifically target the 5-AR Type 2 enzyme, and injections make it possible to help concentrate focus on the hair follicles in the scalp. This medication has had pretty promising results in preventing future hair loss, but little evidence has been shown in its ability to re-grow hair. With the daily use of this DHT blocker, many men have seen their hair loss slow dramatically or come to a complete halt. However, the drug, when used alone, has shown a re-growth rate of just over 200 hairs per square inch over the course of five years. A standard square inch portion of scalp should hold around 2,000. A DHT blocker, such as topical DHT blocker products and DHT blocker shampoo may be administered to stop the process of balding, but other methods may be necessary to promote the growth of new hair.
Because researchers don’t fully understand hair loss and male pattern baldness, it is tough to say why these DHT blockers may work so well for some and show very little or no result for others. Most experts just blame it on genetics but the evidence is inconclusive. Typically, people discover that DHT blockers either do or do not work for them through a trial and error method. You should discuss the idea with your doctor. They will be able to help you decide if a DHT blocker is right for you.
What Are My DHT Blocker Options?
There are several options out there claiming to block 5-AR, and therefore DHT. These options range from popular prescription medications, like Propecia, to more natural options like over-the-counter supplements and herbal remedies. Your doctor may recommend a prescription option. However, it is important to note that DHT blockers, especially in concentrated doses like in the prescription options, can have some unfavorable side-effects. Some men have seen a decrease in libido, difficulty or inability to maintain an erection, and a decrease in the amount of ejaculation.
If you are worried about these side effects or simply want to avoid prescription medications, you should know that there are a few much more natural routes. Some of these natural DHT blockers have a substantial amount of scientific backing as well as a few fans. Some of these natural options include pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto. Natural DHT blockers may not exhibit as many side-effects or they may be less severe because they will not fully block the creation of the 5-AR Type 2 enzyme.