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Does DHT Blocking Shampoo Really Work?

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    There is a vast variety of products which promise to stop hair loss. Before you purchase any of them, you should research the product, examine its ingredients and consult with a professional.

    One treatment you may have come across is DHT blocking shampoo. In this article, we’ll outline how DHT blocking shampoo works, look at the potential side effects, and assess its effectiveness. 

    What is DHT?

    Dihydrotestosterone, abbreviated to DHT, is a common type of hormone called androgen. It stimulates male characteristics like body hair and is also understood to contribute to hair loss, causing you to lose your hair more quickly. 

    DHT is a contributor to male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia), which is one of the most common reasons men lose their hair with age. Research showed that more than half of men will experience male pattern balding by the age of 50. A study confirmed that DHT “seems to play an extremely important role in the pathogenesis of androgenetic alopecia”, and research has also shown that DHT can also cause hair loss in women.

    What does DHT do?

    DHT is important to the development of male sex characteristics, such as body hair, a deep voice and the growth of the male sex organs. But it also offers benefits when we get older, being important to maintaining muscle mass, as well as sexual health and fertility. 

    If you are a man with high levels of DHT, you may not notice many changes, whereas women with too much DHT may have:

    • Increased hair growth on their body, face and pubic area
    • Increased acne
    • Periods stopping

    In men, not having enough DHT can have a significant impact, including underdeveloped genitalia and less body hair than usual. Puberty may be delayed in girls with low DHT levels.

    Present in both men and women, DHT is derived from testosterone. Around 10% of testosterone in men and women is converted to DHT. It contributes to hair loss by linking to receptors in your hair follicles, causing them to shrink, which leads to less robust hair over time.

    What happens when you block DHT?

    So how do DHT blockers work, and how do they aim to prevent male and female pattern baldness, particularly in males? Testosterone converts to DHT with assistance from the 5-alpha reductase (5-AR) enzyme. DHT blockers prevent DHT from binding to 5-AR receptors. This includes receptors in your hair follicles. When DHT fails to bind to these receptors, it is stopped from shrinking hair follicles. 

    Blocking DHT side effects

    DHT blockers are safe, but some medications and products may cause side effects. Usually, people don’t have to worry about their DHT levels, but excessive levels of this hormone can cause hair loss problems and therefore DHT blocking may be beneficial to some. Among the potential side effects of DHT are:

    • Premature ejaculation 
    • Taking a long time to ejaculate
    • Erectile dysfunction 
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Rash
    • Excess of fat in the breast area
    • Tenderness in the breast area
    • Congestive heart failure caused by salt or water retention
    • Darkening of hair on face and upper body
    • Thickening of hair on face and upper body

    What is DHT blocker shampoo?

    DHT blocking shampoo is a type of shampoo that contains ingredients which can block the effects of DHT, reducing its ability to cause hair loss. It is typically used by men who have male pattern baldness. DHT blocking shampoos work in a similar way to hair loss medication such as finasteride, inhibiting the 5-AR enzyme and reducing the conversion of testosterone into DHT. However, DHT blocking shampoos contain ingredients that decrease DHT activity at the scalp, rather than throughout the body.

    Typical ingredients of DHT blocking shampoos include: 

    • Pumpkin seed oil
    • Saw palmetto, which is extracted from the Serenoa repens plant.

    Do DHT blocking shampoos work?

    There are no robust studies demonstrating the effectiveness of DHT blocking shampoos and it is unlikely these shampoos work to prevent and reverse hair loss. Any potential effectiveness of the shampoo will also depend on the severity of the problem, as well as on what the hair loss is associated with (e,g, hormones, stress, etc.). You should also remember that the shampoo may not work for everyone, and even if it helps with the prevention of hair loss, it may not be the best solution for hair regrowth.

    Is DHT shampoo safe?

    In general, DHT blocking shampoos are safe. However, in rare cases, some of the ingredients may cause side effects. 

    Be wary of shampoos that cause skin irritation – some ingredients in many shampoos, such as parabens and sulfates, may irritate sensitive skin. The parabens and sulfates in DHT blocking shampoos can dehydrate your scalp, removing its natural oil and causing the thinning of the hair. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives such as sulfate-free shampoo. 

    Proven hair loss treatments

    If you suffer from hair loss, there are a range of surgical and non-surgical treatments out there that can help combat this issue and restore a full head of hair.

    Non-surgical treatments you can ask your specialist about include:

    • Finasteride, which stops the balding process of androgenic alopecia, blocking the enzymes which assist the conversion of testosterone into DHT
    • Minoxidil, which increases hair vitality by promoting good oxygen and nutrient supply and
    • Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy, which may be beneficial in preventing hair loss and encouraging hair growth by helping to heal hair follicles.

    There are also surgical treatments such as an FUE hair transplant. This is an advanced, minimally-invasive procedure which takes individual hair follicles in tiny punches from the back and side of the head, before transplanting them to the part of your scalp suffering from hair loss. 

    Get in touch 

    If you are experiencing hair loss, consulting with a specialist such as the surgeons at The Treatment Rooms London can give you the best advice on treatment.

    Discover more about our non-surgical treatments and surgical treatments for hair loss. 

    You can book a consultation at The Treatment Rooms London by calling us on 020 8706 0076 or using the contact form

    Sources:

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1524-4725.1998.tb00009.x

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/68082#effects

    https://www.americanhairloss.org/women_hair_loss/causes_of_hair_loss.html

    http://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/dihydrotestosterone.aspx

    Authored by

    Hair Transplant Surgeon Dr Roshan Vara

    Dr Roshan Vara

    Full Medical Member of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery

    GMC Registered - 7458409

    Reviewed by

    Hair Transplant Surgeon Dr Dilan Fernando

    Dr Dilan Fernando

    Royal College of Surgeons

    Executive Committee Member & Treasurer of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery

    GMC Registered - 7458157

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