Tag Archive for: dihydrotestosterone

Thickening Shampoos: Ingredients That Work

Are you worried about thinning hair? If the answer is yes, then you’ve probably considered a hair-thickening shampoo or conditioner at one time or another. However, there are hundreds of different products to choose from. Finding the proper treatment means knowing which ingredients are the most successful at growing thicker strands. 

What is a Hair Thickening Shampoo? 

The simple act of shampooing already helps to thicken your hair. Removing grime and grease releases substances that weigh hair down, giving it a lighter, fluffier appearance. Hair thickening shampoos, however, have the added benefit of including ingredients that make hair thicker, nurture hair growth, and, in some cases, slow or stop hair loss. 

Getting past exaggerated claims and scientific-sounding words can be challenging when hunting for a hair-thickening product that works. While many products are filled with over-the-top promises they fail to deliver, others are exceptionally effective. Not all hair-thickening shampoos or conditioners are the same. But how do you know which one to buy? Check for the right ingredients. 

What Hair Thickening Ingredients Should a Shampoo Include? 

The most efficacious ingredients in hair-thickening shampoos work in one of two ways: 

  • Blocking dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
  • Encouraging hair growth

Both men and women produce the hormone DHT, the primary hormone responsible for hair loss. At normal levels, DHT doesn’t cause balding. Unfortunately, some people experience higher levels of DHT. High levels of DHT can shrink or injure hair follicles, preventing healthy hair growth. Blocking DHT helps to reduce hair loss and maintain follicle health.  (01)

Hair doesn’t contain living cells, but the scalp and follicles that manufacture and grow strands of hair do. Therefore, ingredients that help to keep the scalp healthy, increase blood flow, or feed nutrients to hair follicles can help thicken hair and accelerate hair growth. To grow healthy hair, you need a healthy scalp. 

Popular hair brands may have cache in the drugstore aisle, but they aren’t necessarily more effective when treating thinning hair. When it comes to thickening shampoos and conditioners, it’s what’s inside that counts. The following are the most potent hair-thickening ingredients to look for. 

Hair Thickening Shampoo and Conditioners: DHT Blockers 

About 50% of men and women experience some degree of a hair loss condition called androgenic alopecia, which stems from excess levels of DHT. Therefore, ingredients that block DHT keep DHT from harming hair follicles and keep more strands from falling out. (02)

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto extract is derived from a fruit grown in the Southeastern United States. This extract is an effective DHT blocker in many studies. For example, one two-year study of a group of 100 males with mild-to-moderate androgenetic alopecia was published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. The study found that 38% of participants who used saw palmetto saw an improvement in their hair loss. (03)

For men, the prostate is very sensitive to DHT levels. One study saw a significant reduction in DHT levels in the prostate of men who were administered saw palmetto, compared to men who were given a placebo. Although more studies are necessary, saw palmetto is proving to have strong DHT-blocking effects and could help with DHT-induced hair loss. (04)

Hair Thickening Shampoo and Conditioners: Growth Enhancers

An effective hair thickening shampoo or conditioner contains ingredients that create the right environment for optimal hair growth. Substances that nourish and strengthen the scalp and strands are essential for a thicker head of hair. 

Ketarin

Hair is mostly made up of keratin, a protein that’s also found in nails and skin. Keratin is an exceptionally strong material, which makes it an ideal protective protein. Tissues made up of keratin, like your fingernails and hair, are tougher and less prone to damage.  As a result, shampoos and conditioners that contain keratin work well as hair thickeners and strengtheners. 

Thinning or damaged hair experience a loss of structural integrity, where keratin cells have gaps in between or overlap unevenly.  When applied on these hair strands, keratin products fill in spaces in between those cells. The keratin acts like a filler or glue for the hair, which makes the keratin-infused strands smoother and stronger as a result. (05)

Biotin

Biotin, also referred to as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, promotes keratin production. Because hair is mostly made of keratin, biotin ensures healthy hair. A deficiency in biotin can lead to weak, brittle strands of hair and slow hair growth. Although rare, biotin deficiency can occur in people with medical conditions or who use alcohol frequently. Supplementation of biotin, whether orally or through topicals and shampoos, may foster hair thickness. (05)

Argan Oil 

Popularly known as “liquid gold” from the area it comes from (Morocco), argan oil has been used for centuries to counteract hair loss. This oil is made from the fruit kernels of the Moroccan argan tree. Argan oil has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal ingredient for scalp treatments. 

Hair loss resulting from conditions like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, which may inflame the scalp, may benefit from shampoos and conditioners containing argan oil as an ingredient. 

Perhaps more importantly, however, argan oil also contains linoleic acids that moisturize the scalp and hair. By strengthening and moisturizing the scalp, hair follicles, and strands, argan oil can assist in thickening hair. (06)

Choosing a Multi-Pronged Approach to Thicken Hair

Most people who have hair thinning or balding know that the causes typically stem from more than one source. While genetics may be one risk factor, other elements like scalp health, nutrition, and external influences also play apart. The American Academy of Dermatology Association lists the following possible risk factors that may lead to thinning hair: (07)

  • Increased age
  • Inherited genes
  • Immune system disorders (such as alopecia areata)
  • Medical treatments
  • Overall health
  • Hair care
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Scalp health and infections

There’s no one magic bullet for hair loss, because the causes may stem from many different areas. Because of this fact, combating hair loss should be a multi-faceted approach. For example, eating a nutritious diet, practicing appropriate hair care, and using a medicated treatment to combat hair loss will yield better results than relying on a one-track approach. 

Do Thickening Shampoos Work? 

So, do thickening shampoos actually help with hair loss? Yes! Although finding the right ingredients and utilizing thickening shampoos alongside other approaches is vital for success. 

If you’re experiencing balding or thinning hair, let Happy Head help you manage your hair loss. Our experienced board-certified dermatologists will work with you to find the right prescription topical to regrow your hair. You can also try a multi-faceted approach with our Happy Head hair thickening shampoo and conditioner. Filled with high-quality hair-healthy ingredients like saw palmetto and biotin, our hair thickeners will give your strands volume and depth, as well as strengthen the health of our scalp. Subscribe and save on your purchase! 

Resources: 

(01) https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/hair-loss/symptoms-of-high-dht

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/

(03) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/039463201202500435

(04) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11337315/

(05) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/

(06) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/

(07) https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes

 

Dutasteride or Finasteride for Hair Loss: Which Should You Use?

You’ve decided to be proactive and treat your hair loss.  After all, you’ve been staring at the mirror day after day, trying to convince yourself that you aren’t really losing your hair.  But, you are.  Now that you’ve decided to do something about it, which medication should you use?  Everywhere you look, there seems to be another hair loss solution that promises to give you a full head of shiny hair in no time. 

Here’s what any qualified dermatologist will tell you. In addition to Minoxidil, you’ll need a prescription DHT (an acronym for dihydrotestosterone) blocker to effectively treat male pattern baldness.  Two are on the market:  Finasteride and Dutasteride.  Both have been tested and are prescribed often.  Which one is better?  We’ll run down the list of pros and cons and give you the information you need to have an educated discussion with your dermatologist.

Why Do People Use Finasteride or Dutasteride?

Before we get into what Finasteride and Dutasteride are and how they work, let’s talk about why you need one of these medications.  There are many types of alopecia that cause balding and thinning, but the most common type is male and female pattern baldness.  Male and female pattern baldness is a genetic condition that occurs when your body converts testosterone into an androgen called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  If you are genetically predisposed to male or female pattern baldness, DHT can attack your hair follicles and cause something called miniaturization.  Miniaturization occurs when the hair follicles shrink. Healthy new hair can’t emerge and existing hair falls out.  

How Finasteride and Dutasteride Work 

Finasteride and Dutasteride are in a class of medications called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, also known as 5-ARIs.  The medicines were initially designed and marketed to treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate.   When testing effectiveness in treating BPH, researchers discovered that balding patients taking Finasteride experienced hair growth.   The reason why is that the medications are anti-androgens, which means they prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT.  DHT causes both enlarged prostates and hair loss.  If the testosterone doesn’t convert, your hair follicles will remain healthy.  

What is the Difference Between Finasteride and Dutasteride?

Finasteride is sold under the brand names Proscar and Propecia.  The medication was FDA-approved to treat male pattern baldness in 1997.  Dutasteride is sold under the brand name Avodart and is used off-label to treat male pattern baldness.  Dutasteride is a newer medication.  

Finasteride inhibits Type 2 isoenzyme of 5a-reductase.  Dutasteride inhibits Type 1 and Type 2. You could say that Dutasteride is stronger because it inhibits an extra enzyme.  Does that mean that Dutasteride is a better choice?  Although one study found Dutasteride to be more effective, that isn’t always the case. (01)

You Need to Give DHA Blockers a Test Run

According to Dr. Ben Behnam, Board Certified Dermatologist and founder of Happy Head, you won’t know which medication will work better for you until you try one.  Logically, Dutasteride should work better for everyone because it has broader coverage, but that isn’t always the case.  He has seen situations where patients respond better to Finasteride.  That’s one of the reasons why dermatologists typically recommend Finasteride first.  Finasteride can often get the job done at a lower dosage than Dutasteride.  Finasteride is also often combined with Minoxidil to get desired results.  The two medications work synergistically to halt hair loss and generate growth.  Minoxidil brings oxygen to the hair follicle, enlarging the follicle, while Finasteride blocks the DHT from attacking the follicle.  

You Need to Consider How Risk Adverse You are to Potential Side Effects

Side effects are always a possibility with any medication.  However, DHT blockers are of particular concern to many men because of potential sexual side effects.  Both Finasteride and Dutasteride have similar risks and safety profiles. (02) The truth is that side effects are rare with both medications.   If you’re still concerned, though, Finasteride comes in a topical formula.  The topical has been proven to penetrate the scalp’s surface and work as effectively as the oral pill.  Men can get the same benefit without systemic effects.  As of now, Dutasteride is only available as a pill.  

Can Women Use Finasteride and Dutasteride?

Just as men get male pattern baldness, women experience female pattern baldness.  Female pattern baldness is also caused by DHT.  Although Finasteride is not FDA approved for women, many dermatologists prescribe the medication to their female patients.  The only caveat is that Finasteride is not recommended for women who are or are thinking about getting pregnant.  Dutasteride isn’t prescribed to women as often as Finasteride, however, women can take the medication if they are not of childbearing age.  Spironolactone, another DHT blocker, is usually prescribed rather than Dutasteride.  

 

Need help selecting the right medication to treat your male or female pattern baldness?  Want more information about whether Finasteride or Dutasteride are right for you?  We’re here to help.  Our board-certified dermatologists are on call to answer your questions and make personalized recommendations.  

 

Resources:

(01) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388756/#:~:text=One%20study%20discovered%20that%20dutasteride,in%20inhibiting%20type%201%205AR.&text=After%20studying%20the%20mechanism%20of,than%20finasteride%20in%20treating%20AGA.

(02) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24411083/

 

 

The Best Superfoods for Healthy Hair

Hair loss can often leave a person feeling helpless about their appearance. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes a person can make to encourage healthy hair growth.  For example, replacing processed foods with nutrient-dense superfoods may help manage hair loss. 

Nutrients for Hair Growth

Like the rest of the body, the scalp depends on vitamins and minerals from the food you eat to grow healthy hair. Hair grows out through hair follicles, and these follicles need nutrients to work well. The following are a few of the most vital nutrients necessary for hair growth. 

Vitamin A

Healthy follicles are important for robust hair growth. Vitamin A ensures well-functioning follicles by promoting better blood circulation and mitigating follicle damage from free radicals. Additionally, vitamin A improves overall scalp condition, eliminating dry and scaly skin. 

B Vitamins

Deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to hair loss. B vitamins support the growth of skin, hair, and nails in two ways: 

  • Enhancing the body’s ability to remove nutrients from foods. 
  • Boost red blood cell formation. 

A variety of nutrients fall under the umbrella of a B vitamin: (01)

  • B1 (also known as Thiamine)
  • B2 (also known as Riboflavin)
  • B3 (also known as Niacin)
  • B5 (also known as Pantothenic acid)
  • B6
  • B7 (also known as Biotin)
  • B9 (also known as Folate)
  • B12

Hair-friendly B vitamins help with red blood cell formation, which are vital for carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body— including the scalp. 

Vitamin C

A healthy head of hair is nearly impossible without Vitamin C. It’s a powerful antioxidant that impacts hair growth by: (02)

  • Playing a significant role in developing collagen, which is necessary for hair building and structure. 
  • Encouraging the absorption of iron, which prevents hair loss and oxidative stress. 

Like the rest of the body, the scalp and hair is susceptible to damage from free radicals. Vitamin C helps to reduce the injury from free radicals and maintains scalp health. Furthermore, collagen is a key compound that produces keratin, which gives skin and hair cells their structure. Vitamin C amps up collagen production and helps to strengthen and grow healthy hair. 

Vitamin D

Due to our modern lifestyle and diet, most people do not get enough vitamin D. Which is unfortunate, because vitamin D deficiency is linked to hair loss and slow hair growth. Participants in a study of women experiencing hair loss had lower levels of vitamin D. In another study of individuals with alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss) found that vitamin D levels were also lower in individuals with the disease. (03, 04)

Iron

While many people don’t get enough vitamin D, the most common nutrient deficiency in the world is iron deficiency. Iron plays a significant role in a variety of body systems, but perhaps it’s most well-known for carrying oxygen throughout the body via red blood cells. Without iron, hair follicles can’t get the oxygen they need to grow hair. Therefore, iron deficiency results in anemia and hair loss. (02)

Zinc

Bones, muscles, the immune system, and even reproductive organs all require zinc to function appropriately. Zinc is also essential for healthy hair and skin. This mineral plays a significant role in manufacturing collagen, essential for growing hair. (02)

In addition, zinc affects the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is responsible for the loss of hair in situations like male pattern.  Zinc regulates the activity of the enzyme that keeps DHT in check, 5-alpha reductase.

Seven Superfoods for Hair Loss

The good news is that you can easily obtain these vital hair nutrients by incorporating the following superfoods in your diet. You’ll find some predictable foods on this list, as well as some you may not have expected to be hair-growing superfoods! 

1 Nuts and Seeds

In general, nuts and seeds are high-protein and nutrient-dense superfoods. When it comes to hair, however, they’re chock full of the nutrients necessary for long, shiny hair. Nuts and seeds are high in B vitamins, iron, zinc, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Just keep your intake to a handful a day, because nuts and seeds are also high in calories. 

2 Healthy Cuts of Meat

Meat gets a bad rap. Although it’s true that fatty or heavily processed meats adversely affect a person’s health, this is not the case for all types of meat. Moderate amounts of healthy cuts of meat are rich in nutrients and can help maintain a healthy head of hair. Red meat is full of an easily absorbable type of iron that works especially well in the blood’s oxygen delivery system, which helps bring oxygen to hair follicles. 

3 Oysters

Oysters are more than purported aphrodisiacs, they’re also great for growing hair. These delectable mollusks are low-calorie and high in nutrients, with the minerals it takes to make hair healthy. A 3.5-ounce of oysters provides the following percentage of a person’s daily required nutrients: (05)

  • Selenium: 56% 
  • Iron: 40% 
  • Vitamin B12: 538%
  • Zinc: 555%

These whopping percentages indicate how high oysters are in many of the nutrients needed to grow hair. 

4 Spinach 

In addition to muscles, perhaps spinach should have blessed Popeye with a full head of hair. Spinach is filled with nutrients that benefit both muscles and hair. Loaded with plant-based iron, vitamin C, and vitamin A, spinach can help keep hair follicles and strands healthy. 

5 Eggs 

One superfood that contains what you need for healthy hair are eggs. Hair is mostly protein (collagen and keratin) and eggs are a rich non-red meat source of protein. High in vitamin A, vitamin E, and B vitamins like folate and biotin, eggs help keep strands strong and healthy. Eggs also do wonders for the scalp by infusing the area with nutrients, allowing healthier  follicles to hang on to hair. 

6 Oats 

You’re probably aware that oats are high in fiber, which is beneficial for the digestive system. But did you know oats improve the health of your hair? Oats contain fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids that reduce excess scalp oils and soothe inflammation, helping prevent hair loss in stress-related cases like telogen effluvium. Furthermore, oat is high in zinc, which keeps strands sturdy and less prone to breakage. (06)

7 Peas

Just like oats, green peas are a surprising superfood that’s good for your hair. Because green peas are full of iron and zinc, they strengthen hair and stimulate growth. Additionally, peas are also high in protein, which helps prevent or slow down hair loss. Interestingly enough, research regarding pea sprouts has shown promising results in slowing hair loss. (07)

You’re More than What You Eat

The saying goes that you are what you eat. While this may be true, you’re also more than what you consume. The environment, your genes, and your lifestyle all play some role in your health. And although a healthy well-balanced diet goes a long way to keeping a healthy head of hair, sometimes it takes more than superfoods to grow your locks back. For those cases, Happy Head is here to help. Our board-certified dermatologists will review your case and make recommendations that are unique to your needs. Customizable and delivered straight to your door, Happy Head’s prescription medications is the hair treatment you’ve been searching for. 

 

Resources: 

(01) https://medlineplus.gov/bvitamins.html

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23428658

(04) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260993460_Vitamin_D_Deficiency_in_Alopecia_Areata

(05) https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175171/nutrients

(06) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25607907/

(07) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31680356/

Worried About Going Bald? Why Men Are More At Risk Than Women.

Unless you were lucky enough to be born with perfect genes, the odds are that you’ll experience hair loss at some point in your life if you’re a guy.   By age 35, about two-thirds of all men begin to notice that their hair isn’t quite as thick as it once was.  Or even more alarming, they start to see a bit of recession on their foreheads.  By the age of 50, that number shoots up to 85 percent. (01)  Yes, women lose their hair too.  But why does it seem like men have noticeable hair loss while women still have their standing weekly appointments to get their hair blown out?  

Androgenetic alopecia affects both men and women.  However, it affects each gender differently.  If you’re wondering why male pattern hair loss seems so much more prevalent, we’re here to fill you in.  We have the facts and tips on what you can do if thinning or recession are stressing you out.  

Why Do Men Go Bald?

There are several reasons why men lose their hair.  The most common is due to androgenetic alopecia, male pattern baldness.  The hair loss condition is genetic.  You can inherit it from either your mother’s or father’s side of the family.  Hair loss begins when testosterone converts to an androgen called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  DHT attacks the hair follicles and shrinks them during a process called miniaturization.  When the hair follicles miniaturize, a couple of things happen.  First, the hair that is already there falls out.  Secondly, the smaller hair follicles make it more difficult for new hair to emerge.  Newer hair tends to be finer.  Eventually, the follicles close off, leading to thinning and baldness.  While most people think of balding happening to older men, the truth is that male pattern baldness can affect any male after puberty.  It’s not unusual for men in their 20s and 30s to lose their hair.

Does Too Much Testosterone Cause Male Pattern Baldness?

There’s a theory that bald men have more testosterone than men with a full head of hair.  Which would explain why more men than women go bald.  That’s just a myth, though.  The amount of testosterone isn’t what causes male pattern baldness.  The amount of testosterone that converts to DHT is what matters.  If a man has low testosterone levels, but a high percentage of the testosterone he does have converts to DHT, male pattern baldness can result.  

Can Women Go Bald Too?

Women experience androgenetic alopecia too.  It’s called female pattern baldness.  However, women’s and men’s hair loss patterns are different.  Men tend to lose hair in the front of their heads and on top.  Male pattern baldness often starts as an M shape.  If the condition progresses, it can result in a donut shape.  The pattern of women’s hair loss is different, however.  Women tend to lose their hair along the part line.  Although the hair loss can and does spread, women with female pattern baldness usually don’t go completely bald the way men do.  That’s one of the reasons why it seems like men are more affected by genetic hair loss.  

If a Man Loses His Hair Due to Male Pattern Baldness, Can it Grow Back?

Men with androgenetic alopecia can regrow their hair if the hair follicles have not fully miniaturized and are still intact.  It’s also possible to make thinner hair fuller and healthier looking.  Fortunately, there are two FDA-approved medications designed to help.  

Minoxidil Is Easily Accessible

The first is Minoxidil.  You can buy Minoxidil over-the-counter at drug stores and big box retailers that sell pharmaceutical products.  Minoxidil is sold in two and five percent liquid and foam formulas.  Higher percentages, up to ten percent, are available by prescription.  Not surprisingly, research indicates that five percent (02) is more effective in achieving regrowth. Researchers do not know the exact mechanism that makes Minoxidil work.  But, they do know that Minoxidil brings oxygen to the scalp, enlarging hair follicles, preventing miniaturization and hair loss.  

Finasteride Is a First-line Prescription Treatment for Male Pattern Hair Loss

Finasteride is a prescription DHT blocker that has been FDA-approved to treat male pattern baldness.  The medication, marketed initially to treat enlarged prostates, is effective in promoting hair growth and stopping hair loss in men. (03)  Finasteride prevents testosterone from converting into DHT, which can attack and shrink the hair follicles.  Some men, however, are reluctant to try or use Finasteride because it has a reputation for causing sexual side effects.  Using topical Finasteride is a good, often preferred, alternative that allows men to benefit from the medication without experiencing systemic effects.  

Treatment for Male Pattern Baldness Often Requires a Combination of Prescription Medications

If you’re starting to see thinning or bald spots and are worried about losing your hair, don’t wait to seek treatment.  As mentioned, you want to act while your hair follicles remain active.  A combination of medications are typically used at the same time.  Minoxidil and Finasteride are often prescribed together.  Minoxidil, a vasodilator, enlarges the follicles, while Finasteride stimulates growth. (04)  Depending on your particular case, your dermatologist may also recommend Retinol to help absorption, Cortisone to eliminate irritation or other medications.  Liquid formulas that combine multiple medications into one are available if you’re concerned about taking multiple medications and side effects. 

Customized Hair Loss Treatments Can Be Modified

Keep in mind that treatment for male pattern baldness isn’t one-size-fits-all.  It may take some trial to determine which combination of medications works best for your body’s chemistry.  Finasteride is typically the first-line treatment since it’s highly effective.  However, some men find that Dutasteride, a more broad-spectrum DHT blocker, works better for them.  The key is to remember that once you start treating your hair loss and find a solution that works, you’ll need to keep using it.  If you stop treatment, any growth will be lost.

No, you can’t change your genetic makeup, but you can treat your hair loss.  If you have questions about what medications are right for you, contact us.  Our board-certified dermatologist will review your case and recommend the best way to start regrowing your hair.

 

Resources:

(01) https://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss/index.html

(02) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12196747/

(03) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9951956/

(04) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4314881/

 

DHT Blockers: Fight Hair Loss with These Powerful Weapons

Men are willing to do just about anything besides see a doctor.   Given a choice, 72 percent of men would rather clean the bathroom, mow the lawn, or do any other household chores. A lot of men aren’t even getting their yearly check-ups. (01)   So when it comes to hair loss, not many guys are rush to the dermatologist for a diagnosis and medication.  But they should.  

The most powerful hair loss weapons against male pattern baldness are only available by prescription.  Sure, there’s an endless number of products sold over-the-counter claiming that they work, but the reality is that they aren’t powerful enough to get the job done.  This is true for women who have female pattern baldness too.   

If your hair is thinning or balding, a DHT blocker may be just what the doctor ordered.  Read on to learn more about what DHT is, why DHT is causing your hair loss, and why DHT blockers may be the solution to your hair loss issues.  

What is DHT?

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a sex hormone, known as an androgen.   Androgens are typically produced in males’ testicles and women’s ovaries.  The adrenal glands also produce androgens.  DHT is a little different than other androgens, because it is converted from testosterone.  Men naturally have more testosterone in their bodies than women, however, an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (5-AR) converts about ten percent of testosterone in all adults to DHT.  

How Does DHT Cause Hair Loss?

When too much testosterone converts into DHT, the excess amounts of DHT interfere with your hair’s growth cycle.  The hair follicles miniaturize, make existing hair fall out, and prevent new hair from breaking through.    

Will a Blood Test Tell Me If I’m Producing Too Much DHT?

It seems logical that DHT levels can be monitored since testosterone levels can be checked.  That’s not the case, though.  DHT levels may fall within the normal range on a blood test but still be elevated enough to cause male or female pattern baldness.  This is especially true if your body is sensitive to DHT.  When testosterone levels increase, DHT has the potential to be an even bigger problem.  

Can I Prevent Androgenetic Alopecia?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to predict whether or not you’re going to lose your hair.  Androgenetic alopecia, male and female pattern baldness, is genetic.  If a family member on either your maternal or paternal side has gone bald, there’s a chance that you could too. The only catch is that you don’t have a way of knowing whose or which genes you inherited.  

Men on testosterone replacement therapy or get testosterone injections often ask if the medication will contribute to their hair loss.  Depending on the patient’s sensitivity, the supplemental testosterone could cause an increase in DHT leading to increased hair loss.  

Is Overproduction of DHT Just a Guy Problem?

When people think of androgenetic alopecia, men typically come to mind.  Bruce Willis, The Rock, Matthew McConaughey, Jeff Bezos are all prime examples.  You don’t see too many bald or balding female celebrities.  The reality is that a significant number of women are affected although the number isn’t as high as it is for men.  One research study found that out of 954 patients diagnosed with pattern baldness, 23.9 percent were women. (02)  Women typically have a lower level of testosterone; however even when lower levels of testosterone convert to DHT, hair loss can occur.  

What Can You Do to Reduce the DHT Levels in your Body?

The most effective way to reduce your DHT level is to use a DHT blocker.  If you’ve been dealing with hair loss issues for a while, you’re probably well aware of the overwhelming number of over-the-counter (OTC) hair loss options.  It’s not unusual for patients to spend a lot of time and money with these products before giving up and turning to their dermatologists for prescription options. 

Prescription DHT blocking medications reduce the amount of 5a-reductase enzyme, which converts testosterone into DHT in your body.  Here are the DHT blockers most commonly prescribed by dermatologists and hair specialists:

Oral & Topical Finasteride 

Finasteride is one of the most well-known DHT blockers.  The medication was FDA approved in 1992 under the name Proscar to treat enlarged prostates and five years later under the name Propecia to treat androgenetic alopecia.  Although both men and women can use Finasteride, it is not recommended for use in women who are or could become pregnant.  

Oral Finasteride is highly effective as a hair loss treatment.  One research study found that 80 percent of participants who took Finasteride saw an increase in hair growth. (03)  However, some people who take oral Finasteride report undesirable sexual side effects, including decreased libido.  A good solution is using topical Finasteride rather than oral.  Topical Finasteride has been proven to be as effective as oral without the side effects in many studies. (04)  

Topical Finasteride Combined With Minoxidil

Minoxidil is not a DHT blocker, but it has an important role in hair growth for people with male and female pattern baldness.  Minoxidil is what’s called a vasodilator.  It enlarges the blood vessels so more oxygen reaches the scalp.  As a result, it makes the hair follicles bigger so new hair can emerge.  Minodixil and Finasteride are a dynamic duo when used together to fight hair loss.  The Finasteride prevents the testosterone from converting into DHT while the Minoxidil ensures that your scalp is conducive to new hair growth.  A research study conducted in 2020 found that the combination of Finasteride and Monoxidil was safe and more effective than monotherapy. (05)

Dutasteride

Dutasteride, also known as Avodart, is another DHT blocker originally developed to treat enlarged prostates.  It is also a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor.  Although Finasteride and Dutasteride work similarly, the medications have some differences.   Whereas Finasteride is FDA-approved to use for hair loss, Dutasteride can only be used off-label.  It has not yet been FDA-approved.  Finasteride is usually highly effective in treating androgenetic alopecia and is typically used as a first-line medication.  In cases where patients need an extra boost, Dutasteride can be helpful.  Research has shown that men who used Dutasteride for 24 weeks had thicker hair than men who used Finasteride. (06) 

Spironolactone

Spironolactone is FDA approved to treat high blood pressure, heart failure, and fluid retention due to kidney and liver diseases.  It is not FDA-approved to use for hair loss and is used off-label for women.  Spironolactone typically isn’t prescribed to men because it can cause feminizing side effects.  Like Finasteride and Dutasteride, Spironolactone slows down androgen production.  The medication has been found to be both safe and effective. (07)

How Do DHT Blockers Work?

Now that you have a better idea of what DHT blockers are available, the next question that needs to be answered is how do they work?  The mechanics behind the prescription medications approved or used as DHT blockers are similar.  First, preventing testosterone from converting to DHT inhibits the miniaturization of the hair follicles.  Secondly, when the levels of scalp DHT are lowered, the number of hairs in the anagen phase are maintained or increased.  Think of anagen as the active phase of the hair growth cycle.  This is when the cells in the roots of your hair divide rapidly and form new hair.  Elongating the anagen stage gives your hair more time to grow.  

Get More Information On Prescription DHT Blockers

If you’re experiencing androgenetic alopecia and want more information on DHT blockers, contact us.  If, like many, you haven’t yet been to a dermatologist, free phone consultations are available with board-certified dermatologists and hair specialists.  

Formulas are available for men and women and can even be customized based on your specific needs.  We are happy to remove or add ingredients as needed and appropriate.  You can also see before and after photos of our patients.  You can get an idea of what you can realistically expect to see after using Happy Head hair loss solutions that block the DHT causing your alopecia.

Resources:

(01) https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2019/09/04/cleveland-clinic-survey-men-will-do-almost-anything-to-avoid-going-to-the-doctor/

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312176/

(03) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15316165/#:~:text=In%20the%20clinical%20evaluation%20at,the%205%25%20topical%20minoxidil%20group.

(04) http://www.bioline.org.br/pdf?dv09011

(05) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32166351/

(06) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388756/

(07) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3769411/

 

Dealing with Bald Spots and Male Pattern Baldness



Whether it’s a slow realization or a sudden awareness, discovering that you’re losing your hair is a difficult event. Every hair on the pillow or on the floor of the shower comes back to haunt you, and you’re at a loss for what to do. Fortunately, there’s steps you can take to slow – or sometimes even stop – your hair loss.

What Causes Bald Spots?

Men don’t have the monopoly on bald spots; women can have them, too! Everyone is at risk for developing a bald spot at some time in their lives, for a variety of reasons. However, some people are at a higher risk than others. 

The most common cause of bald spots in both men and women is the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.  Both men and women produce DHT, but some people have higher levels of DHT than others. Male pattern baldness (MPB), also called androgenic alopecia, results from a combination of DHT and variation in the androgen receptor (AR) genes. Androgen receptors allow hormones like DHT to bind to them, and men with AR genes tend towards male pattern baldness. (01)

High levels of DHT can damage or shrink hair follicles, preventing hair from growing normally. The hair follicles most sensitive to DHT are located at the hairline and at the crown, which is why these areas are often the first to experience hair loss. And although DHT can also cause hair loss in women, 

But it’s not just DHT that can cause bald spots. Other factors that trigger hair loss are: (02)

  • Severe emotional stress
  • Physical stress or illness
  • Hormonal Shifts
  • Medications
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Age
  • Hairstyling 
  • Hairstyling products
  • Repeated physical trauma (tight hats or headbands)

The First Signs of Balding

If bald spots or male pattern baldness runs in your family, you’ve probably been on the lookout for hair loss for awhile now. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if it’s really a bald spot or just a bad hair day. Here are a few signs that you may be experiencing bald spots or male pattern baldness:

A Receding Hairline

Hair loss typically starts at the hairline. A receding hairline may occur so slowly that you might not notice it until you have something to compare it against. For example, you might spot your receding hairline when you start looking at old photos and see that your hairline looks  different today. Your hair loss may occur incrementally, making it tougher to see.

Reduction in hair thickness

Do you notice less hair on top? Does your hair feel different when you run your fingers through it? If your hair feels finer and more airy, then it might be due to male pattern baldness or hair loss.

Loss of hair at the crown

A growing crown area is one of the first signs of hair loss, especially male pattern baldness. Most people don’t look at the back of their head, so seeing differences in your crown can be challenging. Check your crown every so often using two mirrors to check for bald spots.

How Can I Manage Hair Loss?

Experiencing balding or male pattern baldness is tough, but you do have options. The following are steps you can take to slow down hair loss.

Surgical Treatments

Surgical treatments are typically reserved for advanced cases of balding or male pattern baldness. A hair transplant, for example, is an outpatient surgery that utilizes donor hair follicles. These donor follicles are implanted into sparse or bald areas, allowing new hair to grow. These implants, called follicular unit transplantation (FUT) or follicular unit extraction (FUE), leave little to no scarring. The donor follicles typically come from your own head, but the process still requires recovery time and post-surgical care. (03)

Because surgical options are invasive, there are contraindications that may keep some people from obtaining FUT or FUE treatments, like blood disorders or the tendency toward heavy scarring (keloids). Furthermore, surgery may result in adverse side-effects like swelling, folliculitis, numbness, and infection.  (04)

Scalp Reduction 

A scalp reduction is exactly as the name implies. To perform scalp reduction, areas of the scalp without hair are surgically removed, and the areas with hair are stretched to fill over the bald portions. If you’re wondering how much of the scalp can be removed, you might be surprised to find that scalp reduction can remove up to half of the scalp. 
The skin that’s meant to be stretched is prepared and loosened, prior to stretching gently. Scalp reduction may be combined with other treatments such as FUT or FUE treatments. Some people find the recovery period from scalp reduction surgery highly uncomfortable, due to a scalp tightness that lasts for a few months as skin adjusts. Hairline lowering surgery, for example, is a kind of scalp reduction surgery. To lower the hairline, the receding portion is removed and the portion with hair is pulled forward. (05)

Platelet-Rich Plasma

A procedure called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) uses an individual’s blood and separates out the plasma using a centrifuge. This platelet-rich plasma (hence the name) is then injected into bald patches and areas of thinning hair. The plasma stimulates growth and repairs damaged blood vessels, helping hair to regrow. Although effective, the PRP process is very involved, costly, and is the newest hair loss treatment option, therefore more research is still necessary to evaluate the ideal therapeutic levels. (06)

Non-surgical Procedures

Scalp micro-pigmentation creates the look of thicker hair through the application of pigmentation that appears like hair follicles. The process includes stippling a tattoo in small dots to mimic hair follicles. Men who have thinning hair or shave their head short are the ideal candidates for scalp micro-pigmentation. However, micro-pigmentation does not grow new hair, nor is it recommended for people with large bald spots or who have major hair loss and wish to regrow hair. (07)

Least Intrusive Procedures

Once you see the signs of male pattern baldness or bald spots, it might warrant considering the least intrusive method for managing hair loss. Medicinal treatments like minoxidil and finasteride are two FDA approved medications for hair loss. When used together, minoxidil and finasteride can slow – or even stop – hair loss and regrow hair. Better yet, when minoxidil and finasteride are customized for each individual, common side-effects can be avoided. 

Dealing with Bald Spots or Male Pattern Baldness: What to Choose?

How you manage your hair loss depends entirely on what’s best for your situation. Bald spots and male pattern baldness can be a distressing event, and making a choice isn’t easy. Talk to people you know who have opted for hair loss treatments and get some perspective. Determine what’s financially feasible and speak to professionals to evaluate with options that will work with your health and lifestyle. At Happy Head, we’re ready to answer any questions you may have about our hair loss products. Let’s talk!

Resources:

(01) https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/hair-loss/symptoms-of-high-dht

(02) https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547740/

(04) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547740/

(05) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24017989/

(06) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4622412/

(07) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382144/

What Is Topical Finasteride?

If you’re searching for hair loss treatments, finasteride is a name you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. Why? Only two hair loss products have received the FDA’s seal of approval — minoxidil is one of them. The other product is finasteride

What is finasteride?

Although there are many different types of hair loss, the most common type is androgenetic or androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness or MPB. As part of a class of medications called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, finasteride treats male pattern baldness by blocking testosterone’s ability to develop into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a hormone that causes hair loss in adults, especially men. By blocking the production of DHT, finasteride reduces the amount of DHT within the scalp. (01)

Isn’t finasteride used for prostate issues?

Yes, finasteride is also prescribed for symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) — an enlargement of the prostate gland. When used for BPH, finasteride reduces urinary frequency and urinary retention. However, the doses used in the treatment of BPH are much higher than the doses used to treat hair loss. As a treatment for BPH, finasteride is sold under the name Proscar.

What is finasteride’s history?

During finasteride’s use as an FDA-approved treatment for BPH under the name Proscar, researchers noticed its effectiveness against hair loss. Several years afterward, lower-dose finasteride was approved for hair loss under the name Propecia.

How does finasteride work against hair loss?

Finasteride works by inhibiting the action of the 5 alpha-reductase enzymes. Concentrated in the oil glands of hair follicles, 5 alpha-reductase, which helps convert testosterone into DHT, another hormone. For people who have the genes for hair loss, DHT binds to hair follicle receptors and diminishes the follicle’s size. If the follicle becomes too small, gradual hair loss occurs. 

Finasteride inhibits 5 alpha-reductase, thus reducing serum DHT (the DHT in the blood). Without DHT to constrict hair follicles, hair loss slows and — for many people — hair regrows. With less DHT in the blood, some people see their hair loss stop completely. In short, finasteride protects hair follicles from DHT damage and stops hair loss.

Which Types of Hair Loss Does Finasteride Treat?

The average person loses 100 hairs each day, even with no hair loss issues. Hair falls away as part of each strand’s natural growth cycle, and the loss is negligible. Each strand of hair grows until its fullest length, then rests and eventually falls away. Afterwards, another strand grows to take its place. (02)

Excessive hair loss is more than a normal part of a hair’s growth cycle. Hair loss can become a problem when more than the average amount of hair is lost over time or if hair fails to regrow. For many people — about an estimated 80 million US adults — a balding scalp or thinning hair is the result of hereditary factors. (02)

If a person’s hair loss stems from DHT’s damage to hair follicles, then finasteride can help.

Is oral finasteride better than topical finasteride?

Finasteride requires a physician’s prescription. A physician can determine the cause of hair loss and prescribe the most appropriate treatment. Getting to the root of the problem determines what works and what doesn’t — like oral finasteride versus topical finasteride. 

Oral finasteride, though effective, comes with a myriad of side effects. Many of the side effects of oral finasteride are life-altering, for example:

  • Decreased sex drive 
  • Pain or tenderness in the testicles 
  • Numbness in the testicles
  • A reduction in sperm count
  • Difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Reduced ejaculatory volume
  • Severe mood changes
  • Breast enlargement 

In rare cases, oral finasteride may cause permanent side effects. 

Fortunately, taking finasteride topically reduces many of the more problematic side effects caused by taking finasteride orally. However, topical finasteride isn’t without precautions and still necessitates professional oversight to monitor and prevent side effects. Though not as severe as oral finasteride, some topical finasteride side-effects include:

  • Decreased sex drive 
  • Inability to urinate 
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Increased liver enzymes
  • Headaches
  • Testicular tenderness
  • Scalp irritation
  • Contact dermatitis 
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Dizziness or weakness

Can you buy finasteride over the counter?

Because finasteride works best for people with an inherited tendency for hair loss, it’s safest to have a physician determine its use. Therefore, finasteride is not a product that anyone can purchase at a pharmacy without a prescription. Finasteride is not an over-the-counter medication and requires a physician’s approval.

Is topical finasteride effective for hair loss?

Topical finasteride works excellently against hair loss. What’s more, topical finasteride avoids many of the adverse side effects that may deter others from completing treatment. The following are studies highlighting the effectiveness of oral finasteride.

  • A 2016 article published in the journal Dermatology Clinics and Research of 107 people found that:
    • Both topical and oral finasteride are equally effective.
    • However, participants on topical finasteride were more likely to complete treatment because there were less side effects. (03)
  • A 2019 literature review published in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology found that topical finasteride delivered: (04)
    • A significant decrease in the rate of hair loss.
    • An increase in hair counts.
    • A reduction in DHT levels within the scalp and plasma.
  • A 2021 study published in the Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology utilized 458 study participants found: (05)
    • No serious adverse side effects in participants.
    • Fewer complaints of sexual side effects when using topical finasteride.
    • Topical finasteride improves overall hair count while producing fewer adverse side effects. 

To summarize, the topical application of finasteride is as effective as taking the drug orally. However, adverse side effects are less common with the topical application of finasteride when compared to oral treatment. 

When taken orally, finasteride goes through the digestive system and into the bloodstream. Applied as a topical, it bypasses the digestive tract and goes straight to its target with little to no side effects. This aspect makes topical use much more desirable, making users more likely to stick with the treatment! 

How do you balance the effectiveness of finasteride versus the side effects?

Getting the most benefits from finasteride with minimal side effects is achieved through:

  • Combining both finasteride and minoxidil, the two only FDA-approved medications for hair loss.
  • Customizing hair loss treatment to the needs of each individual, making every formula unique to each person’s needs.

Because each person is different, it’s essential to make every finasteride treatment as specific to the person as possible. By catering the therapy to each person, adverse side effects are less likely to occur. And because side effects like the loss of libido and a reduction in sperm count can lead to non-adherence with treatment, catering each treatment to the patient makes it more likely that customers finish their treatment and see successful results.

Making That First Step Towards Finasteride Hair Treatments

Happy Head requires a physician assessment to begin treatment. Happy Head, in collaboration with the physician and the customer, determines the most effective hair loss treatment with the least amount of side effects. The involvement of a licensed professional helps to improve safety, provides valuable feedback, and determines the most successful path toward stopping hair loss. 
With the help of board-certified dermatologists, you can find the right balance of finasteride treatments to suit your hair loss needs. Happy Head understands that hair loss can hurt. Losing your hair can be a traumatic event, even if it occurs slowly over time. Add the fact that hair loss treatments often come with side effects, and it can make anyone feel overwhelmed when searching for treatments. With Happy Head, help is just around the corner!

Resources:

(01) https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a698016.html

(02) https://www.aad.org/media/stats-numbers

(03) https://www.scitcentral.com/article.php?journal=19&article=60&article_title=Randomized%20Comparative%20Research%20Study%20of%20Topical%20and%20Oral%20Finasteride%20with%20Minoxidil%20for%20Male%20Pattern%20Androgenetic%20Alopecia%20in%20Indian%20Patients

(04) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6609098/(05) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34634163/