Discover our top recommendations for fine lines + wrinkles.

Discover our top recommendations for fine lines + wrinkles.

By edit
Face care
By concern
Stage of skin aging
Body care
Skin diagnostic
Library
All Topics
Do anabolic steroids cause hair loss?

Do anabolic steroids cause hair loss?

Hair loss is a common, daily issue. Indeed, we all lose hair every day and this process is normal. However, there can be instances of abnormal hair loss that could potentially lead to baldness in the long run. External factors can promote, or even trigger, this hair loss process. Among these, anabolic steroids are suspected to be among the various causes of hair loss.

Summary
Published January 31, 2024, by Manon, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

Anabolic Steroids, what are they?

Anabolic steroids are substances that mimic the activity of testosterone in the body. They were developed in the late 1930s with the aim of treating hypogonadism, a condition related to insufficient production of testosterone.

These anabolic steroids are a form of synthetic testosterone to be taken as a supplement in order to restore natural testosterone. This latter is a hormone that plays a crucial role in the development of typically male characteristics. Taking steroids stimulates the production of certain proteins responsible for muscle development or bone growth.

Anabolic steroids, in which the androgenic effects have been reduced in favor of anabolic effects, were primarily used by professional athletes around the 1950s. Their use thus provided them with numerous advantages for developing their strength and muscle mass. However, in 1975 they were banned by the International Olympic Committee.

It is important to keep in mind that the intake of anabolic steroids is not without risk to our health and it presents several side effects. Among them, hair loss is often mentioned: but is this really the case?

Do anabolic steroids cause hair loss?

Until now, no scientific study has officially proven that the intake of anabolic steroids leads to hair loss. However, it has been demonstrated that it promotes certain phenomena associated with hair loss.

Indeed, anabolic steroids are responsible for an enlargement of the sebaceous glands leading to an increase in sebum secretion. This is due to the binding to androgen receptors present in sebocytes which activates sebum secretion. An excess of sebum can disrupt hair growth and cause long-term hair loss.

Furthermore, the intake of anabolic steroids has shown acorrelation with the enlargement of sebaceous glands and the enzymatic activity of 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This latter is a more concentrated form of testosterone. Some studies have shown that DHT increases the expression of IL-6. This is an interleukin that accelerates the transition between the anagen and catagen phases. As a result, our hair spends less time in the growth phase and quickly transitions into the catagen and then telogen phases, during which the hair no longer grows and eventually detaches from its hair follicle.

Certain types of anabolic steroids could increase the risk of hair loss by elevating the levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This is the case with: Winstrol, Trenbolone, and Anadrol.

Generally, if you notice an abnormal hair loss, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist who will guide you on the next steps to take.

Sources

KWACK M. H. & al. Dihydrotestosterone-Inducible IL-6 Inhibits Elongation of Human Hair Shafts by Suppressing Matrix Cell Proliferation and Promotes Regression of Hair Follicles in Mice. Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2012).

Thèse de Pauline BAZIN. Conséquences du dopage à long terme chez l’homme – Cas particuliers des stéroïdes anabolisants, de l’érythropoïétine et de l’hormone de croissance. (2017).

Diagnostic

Understand your skin
and its complex needs.

Go further: