British Skin Foundation - Hair Loss/Alopecia

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Link between hair loss and high testosterone levels?

Postby Guest Posts on Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:01 pm

My husband is 53 and is losing his hair up top. He uses a shampoo that's supposed to help with thinning but all it does is dry out his hair. So I've started massaging argan oil into the scalp and through his hair. Can you suggest any other natural remedies to help? Also is there a link between hair loss and high testosterone levels?
Thankyou so much
Chana
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Re: Link between hair loss and high testosterone levels?

Postby Dr Sharon Wong on Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:07 am

Dear Chana,

Thank you for your query. It sounds like your husband has male pattern balding/genetic hair loss. This is due to an inherited sensitivity of his hair follicles to the active form of testosterone called DHT. DHT has the effect of progressively shortening the growing phase of the hair follicles resulting in shorter and finer hairs (and therefore thinning) over time. Most people with genetic hair loss have completely normal testosterone levels but there is evidence that conditions/situations in which the individual produces more male hormones can exacerbate the underlying genetic risk such as the use of anabolic steroids (which increases the level of DHT). Similarly in women the condition polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) results in elevated male hormones in the system and can also lead to hair thinning.

Unfortunately the field of hair loss and hair loss treatments is shrouded with many recommendations that lack any evidence to support efficacy. Certainly I would be wary of shampoos which claim to regrow hair - it is certainly possible for shampoos to add volume or thickness/bulk to existing hair and improve the general appearance but not to physically regrow hair. There is no evidence argan oil regrows hair. In terms of natural products, again there is very limited evidence for any but topical saw palmetto, an extract from a type of palm tree has been shown in a few studies to have a mild anti-DHT effect when compared to oral Finasteride, and can be considered as an alternative if there is concern about potential risks and side effects with oral medication. Although not a 'natural' product topical minoxidil is licensed for genetic hair loss in men and women as a thickening product, and is readily available over the counter. It would be worth considering this as a low risk initial treatment for genetic hair loss if your husband hasn't already tried it. Do be forwarned that in up to 40% patients, there may be some initial shedding within the first few weeks, which then settles down. Improvements may not be seen for the first 4-6 months of use and if effective, needs to be continued long term.

There are many medical treatments available for genetic hair loss (including tablets, injections of the patient's own blood product (known as platelet-rich plasma) and hair transplantation) and it would be worth your husband seeing a specialist for some individualised advice on what his options are.

I hope he manages to find a treatment that works for him.

Best of luck,

Sharon
Dr Sharon Wong
Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson
http://www.talkhealthpartnership.com/online_clinics/experts/dr_sharon_wong.php
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