Creatine is a supplement popular with athletes and bodybuilders. This organic amino acid, found naturally in the muscles, helps supply energy to your muscles.
Creatine supplements are thought to help your muscles to produce more energy, improving high-intensity physical performance and speeding up muscle growth. However, there is some discussion around whether creatine may or may not cause hair loss.
In this article, we’ll explore whether or not creatine causes hair loss. We’ll define creatine, before discussing its uses and if it can impact DHT levels, leading to hair loss.
What is the most common cause of hair loss?
Hair loss can be caused by many factors. However, the most common cause of hair loss is androgenic alopecia — a hereditary condition that occurs with ageing. Also known as male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness, this type of balding develops gradually in patterns such as bald spots or a receding hairline.
There are also other causes of hair loss such as:
- Hormonal changes
- Medical conditions
- Stressful events
- Radiation therapy
- Certain hairstyles and hair treatments
What is creatine used for?
Creatine is a naturally-occurring organic compound that helps the muscles produce energy during high-intensity exercise. Athletes and bodybuilders take creatine supplements not only to improve their performance but to help them gain muscle and increase their strength.
Creatine may also be used for treating fatigue, muscle cramps, neuromuscular conditions, depression, multiple sclerosis and congestive heart failure, as well as numerous other conditions.
How does creatine work?
There are several ways in which creatine is thought to improve health and enhance athletic performance.
Creatine increases the stores of phosphocreatine — a form of stored energy — in the muscles during high-intensity exercise. These additional phosphocreatine stores can increase your production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) — a substance which provides the energy for muscle contractions. When you have more ATP, your body can perform better during exercise.
Creatine may also be effective in improving functional performance in muscle disorders and increasing strength and endurance when it comes to heart disease. There is even some evidence to suggest that creatine supplements may help improve symptoms of neurological disease.
Creatine and DHT levels
Creatine may cause side effects, and there is some evidence that it may increase levels of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) — the sex hormone that may contribute to hair loss.
However, while the ability of creatine to improve athletic performance has a good body of research behind it, there is only a limited amount of evidence to support the link between creatine and hair loss.
Some research has suggested that creatine supplements increase DHT levels in men. One study gave a creatine supplement to college-aged rugby players over a period of three weeks and calculated their dihydrotestosterone to testosterone ratio. The study concluded that levels of DHT increased by 56% after one week of creatine loading and remained 40% above baseline after 14 days.
However, the study suggested that further investigation was warranted. It is also important to note that the researchers didn’t assess any hair loss in participants during the study — only the impact of creatine on DHT levels.
Can creatine cause hair loss?
There isn’t enough evidence to show whether or not creatine can cause hair loss. According to the study mentioned above, creatine can cause hair loss but in an indirect way. Creatine supplements may cause an increase in DHT levels, which increases the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. This may lead to hair loss.
An academic article published in 2021 entitled ‘Common Questions and Misconceptions About Creatine Supplementation: What Does the Scientific Evidence Really Show?’ looks at the current body of evidence around creatine and hair loss — including the study on rugby players — and concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest that creatine supplementation increases or causes hair loss or baldness.
Ultimately, there is a limited body of research that links creatine to hair loss.
Is hair loss from creatine permanent?
If you think you may be experiencing hair loss that is due to creatine, shedding would likely begin around two months after you started consuming the supplement.
In a scenario where the hair loss or thinning you observed was due to taking creatine, your hair would grow back after you stopped taking the supplement. In other cases, creatine may be a catalyst for androgenic alopecia or another genetic condition. This might mean you would need a hair loss treatment for your hair to grow back.
There is not enough evidence to show irrefutably that creatine causes hair loss. But, as explained above, if you are considering whether to stop taking creatine because it may cause hair loss, it can help to identify the cause of your hair loss.
How to prevent hair loss from creatine
Since creatine may lead to an increase in DHT levels, it is recommended to avoid using creatine or talk to a doctor before using it, especially if you are predisposed to hair loss.
However, it is important to recognise that there is insufficient evidence to prove if creatine causes hair loss or not.
Get in touch
If you are taking creatine to aid athletic performance, and are concerned that your intake of the supplement may be causing hair loss, consult your doctor.
You can also get in touch with the professionals at The Treatment Rooms London for specialist advice on hair loss. Our team of specialists and highly experienced surgeons are more than happy to discuss all hair loss treatment options — from non-surgical treatments to FUT and FUE hair transplants.
At Putney hair transplant clinic, you can benefit from unparalleled service, a personalised treatment plan and the most advanced techniques. We are known for providing a patient experience which is second to none, ensuring your comfort throughout the entire process and delivering expert guidance and aftercare.
Book a consultation today or call us on 020 8706 0076.
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