Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/26/2020
If you spend enough time researching hair loss, you’re bound to come across products and natural remedies advertised "DHT blockers." To understand what this actually means, we need to first talk a little bit about science and what we know about balding.
For starters, DHT stands for dihydrotestosterone. It is a hormone that’s derived from testosterone and is believed to be the reason why a number of guys experience hair loss, especially hereditary hair loss. Interestingly enough, it’s part of the reason why we get body hair, develop a deep voice, and are able to grow muscles and increase our strength – it’s also linked to having a healthy sex drive.
But you know the saying:* nothing in this world’s for free.* Despite all of DHT’s benefits, it’s also one of the reasons why we lose our hair. While scientists are still trying to fully understand how and why DHT causes balding, they have found that DHT, when converted from testosterone locally at hair follicles, is the primary cause of male pattern baldness. It’s important to note that the DHT is produced which is why some of the topical ointments on the market are met with minimal success unless they contain a sticky, oil-like substance that penetrates the scalp and attacks DHT head on.
Now that you know a little bit about DHT and what it does, it’s easier to understand why DHT blockers are a thing.
So, do they work?
Well, it depends on your definition of effectiveness. If you're expecting for DHT blockers to magically erase all negative effects of male pattern baldness then no, they But if you’re looking for something that could help slow down or prevent further hair loss when added to your daily routine, then DHT blockers could be right for you.
But before you go out and spend a large portion of your paycheck on every remedy with DHT in the description, you need to understand a couple of things. First, there is no magic fix to hair loss. Scientists have not discovered a way to reverse or eradicate male pattern baldness. Anyone who says otherwise might as well be selling you snake oil and energy bracelets. What scientists* have found * various ways to manage balding in most men so that their hair loss doesn't get out of control – and this stops working as soon as you quit your hair loss treatment.
Secondly, be careful of what you see advertised as , or any other buzzwords that essentially mean The jury is still out on whether many of these natural treatments work or not, and right now there’s little scientific evidence to support most of these remedies.
Now that we have that behind us, we can take a look at ways to actually help prevent hair loss. The good news is that there are a number of different ways that you can treat male pattern baldness, and many of these methods become more effective when used together as part of a daily regimen. Here are some ways to block DHT and protect your hair.
DHT-blocking shampoos and conditioners
Used the same way as regular shampoo and conditioner, these DHT-blocking hair care products have been proven to help in the fight against baldness. This is because of an active chemical as ketoconazole which is known to disrupt local DHT production in hair follicles, effectively reducing the amount of hair loss. It’s available by prescription, so if you’d like to know more about it then talk to your doctor. Alternatively, over-the-counter shampoo containing 1% Pyrithione zinc has also been effective at blocking DHT and stimulating hair growth.
The benefit of using DHT-blocking hair products is that they’re quick and easy to use. The downside is that people with sensitive skin could experience discomfort, so consult a doctor if your shampoo and conditioner are causing your scalp to itch or burn.
Finasteride is a pill that's taken once a day and has been known help prevent balding in a number of men – 83% to be exact. Finasteride has been extremely effective for a number of men struggling with receding hairlines and thinning hair. Not only has it helped stop male pattern baldness in its tracks for many of its users, a 66% of the men observed in clinical trials experienced hair regrowth in areas that have been affected by hair loss. And best of all, most people don't experience side effects from taking finasteride.
However, it is important to note that approximately 2% of men taking finasteride experience sexual side effects like lowered libido and difficulty maintaining erections. So that’s definitely something to keep in mind before taking finasteride – although many of the people who experienced these side effects reported that they went away while they continued taking the medication, and side effects went away immediately for people who stopped taking finasteride.
Also known as vitamin B7, Biotin is a supplement that has been linked to stronger hair and nails. While there are a number of questionable "natural" hair loss remedies with little scientific basis, biotin has proven its effectiveness. Scientific studies have found that people who take biotin supplements are more likely to counteract hair thinning and increase hair growth than those who don’t. Not bad for an over-the-counter supplement, eh?
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about DHT blockers, let’s take a look at another popular hair loss treatment: minoxidil. This topical solution is available in both 2% and 5% form. When applied directly to your scalp twice a day, it will help to prevent your hairline from receding and your hair from thinning. Using it alongside other treatments will greatly increase your chances of keeping a lush, full head of hair.
The best way to stop hair loss is to wage a full-on war against male pattern baldness. That means coming up with a treatment program that incorporates a number of different DHT blockers and other remedies designed to stop hair loss dead in its tracks.
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