Hair loss also known as balding is one of the most perplexing conditions facing men and women. The reason for this could be that our hair is part of our identity. Our hair determines who we are, what we wear, and in an odd sort of way our youthfulness is tied to how much how much hair we retain or lose as the aging process gradually leads us down the road of life.
For women perhaps even more so than men their self confidence is tied to not only how much hair they retain but how healthy it looks and how it feels. It also has an impact on how others perceive their beauty. At the center of all this self esteem bubble bursting is an obscure hormone with a nineteen digit address located in the center of a well traveled destination known as bald alley.
Dihydrotestosterone or DHT for short is part of family of androgen hormones which are responsible for hair growth and/or hair loss. Androgens are present in both men and women, although in varying amounts and include such names as testosterone, androsteinedione, and dihydrotestosterone. DHT is formed when the hair mediating enzyme 5 alpha reductase type 2 converts testosterone in dihydrotestosterone.
If dihydrotestosterone is present in large amounts and allowed to bind to the receptors deep within the hair follicle, over time, it starts the process known as balding and is the main component in androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness). This destructive androgen hormone causes some follicles to die while rendering others incapable of producing or sustaining healthy hair growth. It also interrupts the natural hair replacement cycle by shortening the growth phase of hair replacement and lengthening the resting phase. The bottom line is that more hair is lost than is replaced and the hair that is replaced tends to grow less and look and feel less healthy. The end result, especially in men, is a head of hair that bears very little resemblance to their youthful glory days.
DHT driven androgenic alopecia in men usually begins at the forehead or on the top of the head toward the back. Some men lose only some hair and have a receding hairline or a small bald spot in the back. Others are not so lucky, particularly those men whose balding began at a young age. These gentlemen lose all of the hair on top but retain hair on the sides.
DHT driven hair loss in women begins on the top of the head and often is recognized as a general thinning of the hair rather than a complete loss of hair. They normally don’t encounter the receding hairline that is so prominent in their male counterparts.
It is thought that the stark differences between male and female hair loss is because women have a much lower blood testosterone level, as well as a different pattern of hormone receptors and enzymes on the scalp.
What Next? If you have already lost most of your hair the prognosis is not good and probably limited to transplants, wigs, and toupees. On the other hand if you have recognized dihydrotestosterone and hair loss early then your prognosis is very good. If this is the case and you are determined to stop androgenetic alopecia in its tracks look for hair regrowth products that are specially formulated to block DHT and contain ingredients which have been shown to stimulate the scalp and bring dead follicles back to life. Whether you are a man or woman starting a hair re-growth program before hair loss becomes too severe, is the best defense against this progressive condition.