Men and females with hair loss often ask me why their hair is thinning. In most cases, hormones are to blame. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the culprit in man, while DHT and other hormones can cause hair loss in females. If you inherit hair follicles that are sensitive to these hormones, a condition called androgenetic alopecia is usually called male pattern baldness and female pattern alopecia. Androgenic alopecia affects more than 50 million men and 40 million women in the United States, which is one of the most common causes of hair loss to date.
What is DHT?
DHT is a natural byproduct of the male hormone testosterone. An enzyme in the sebaceous glands (grease) of the hair follicle helps to convert testosterone to DHT. Although women have lower testosterone levels than men, this process occurs in both men and women.
How Does DHT Cause Hair Loss?
To understand how DHT causes hair loss, because it helps to understand the hair growth cycle. The cycle consists of four phases: growth phase (growth phase), transition phase (growth phase), quiescent phase (quiescent phase), and shedding phase (exogenous phase). Over time, DHT will accumulate in the hair follicles, disrupting the growth cycle. In a process called miniaturization, DHT shortens the growth phase or prolongs the resting period to shrink the hair follicles, thereby allowing the strands to multiply at a slower rate. As androgenetic alopecia develops and DHT continues to adversely affect the follicles, in each subsequent life cycle, the hair becomes thinner, more fragile, and usually lighter in color. Eventually, the hair follicles are closed, and no more hair is produced.
What Does Genetic Hair Loss Look Like?
Androgenic alopecia behaves differently in men and women. Men usually lose their hair along the hairline, temples, and crowns. As hair loss progresses, the hairline will encounter baldness on the top of the head, leaving only anti-DHT hair on the back and sides of the head. Women show more sporadic hair loss, and maybe thinner overall, partly wider or shed, especially near the temples.
The most important thing to remember about heritable hair loss is progressive hair loss. This means that it will only get worse over time. This is why I encourage you to take some measures against hair loss. The sooner you take action, the more options you have.