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What is DHT?

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If you are investigating hair loss and potential treatments, you may have run across DHT in your search. But what exactly is DHT and how does it contribute to androgenic alopecia or male pattern baldness?

DHT stands for Dihydrotestosterone (5α-Dihydrotestosterone), and is a male sex hormone, or an androgen. It is a derivative or byproduct of testosterone. The enzyme 5α-reductase synthesizes DHT in the adrenal glands, hair follicles, testes and prostate. The most important part of the hair follicle is the dermal papilla (papilla of hair), which is responsible for the growth of hair. The dermal papilla cells divide and differentiate to form new hair follicles. The papilla is in direct contact with the skin’s blood capillaries, from which it gets its essential nutrients for proper hair follicle growth. The dermal papilla has a large number of androgen receptors (more in males than females). Male and female adults can develop changes in the metabolism of the androgen DHT in the body – causing hair loss to occur.



While Male pattern baldness is not completely understood, what we do know is that changes in metabolization of DHT causes hair follicles to shrink, lose their blood supply, and miniaturize, shortening the lifespan of each hair follicle. These affected hair follicles stop producing cosmetically acceptable hair and eventually die. Hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT must be exposed to the hormone for a prolonged period of time for the affected follicle to complete the miniaturization process. Today, with proper intervention, this process can be slowed or even stopped if caught early enough. 


Male pattern baldness is often characterized with the onset of a receding hairline and thinning crown. Hair in these areas appear to be the most sensitive to DHT, which is often why both men and women develop baldness in these areas. This pattern eventually progresses into more apparent baldness throughout the entire top of the scalp, leaving only a rim or “horseshoe” pattern of hair remaining.

If you are experiencing hair loss, help is available. Contact Austin Hair Graft (512) 327-5337 to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss all your treatment options.

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