Androgens and hair growth

Dermatol Ther. 2008 Sep-Oct;21(5):314-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8019.2008.00214.x.


Hair's importance in human communication means that abnormalities like excess hair in hirsutism or hair loss in alopecia cause psychological distress. Androgens are the main regulator of human hair follicles, changing small vellus follicles producing tiny, virtually invisible hairs into larger intermediate and terminal follicles making bigger, pigmented hairs. The response to androgens varies with the body site as it is specific to the hair follicle itself. Normally around puberty, androgens stimulate axillary and pubic hair in both sexes, plus the beard, etc. in men, while later they may also inhibit scalp hair growth causing androgenetic alopecia. Androgens act within the follicle to alter the mesenchyme-epithelial cell interactions, changing the length of time the hair is growing, the dermal papilla size and dermal papilla cell, keratinocyte and melanocyte activity. Greater understanding of the mechanisms of androgen action in follicles should improve therapies for poorly controlled hair disorders like hirsutism and alopecia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / physiopathology*
  • Androgens / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Hair Follicle / cytology
  • Hair Follicle / growth & development*
  • Hair Follicle / physiology*
  • Humans


  • Androgens