The question of whether creatine causes hair loss is common among fitness enthusiasts and athletes considering supplements to support their goals. Current research suggests creatine is unlikely to directly cause hair loss in most healthy users. Though some studies note a correlation, there is insufficient scientific evidence proving creatine alone increases baldness.
For most people, taking creatine as recommended by medical guidelines is unlikely to noticeably impact hair health or accelerate genetic hair loss conditions like male or female pattern baldness. Monitoring personal response and discontinuing use if thinning occurs can help mitigate this uncommon risk.
In this guide, we'll help you understand the link between creatine and hair loss in more depth and outline easy steps you can take if you notice a change in your hair.
Does Creatine Actually Affect Hair Loss?
While you might have heard stories about creatine leading to hair loss, rest assured that most research shows it doesn't cause baldness or thinning in the majority of users. We understand these concerns can be distressing, and it's important to separate facts from hearsay.
Overall, current research and data from creatine studies do not indicate a likely causative direct link between creatine supplements and the risk of hair loss in most healthy individuals. While a small number of predisposed people may see exacerbated thinning when taking prolonged high doses, this occurs rarely and still might not be related to creatine use. Talking to a doctor before starting creatine can help identify any elevated genetic risk of baldness.
What Do Studies Say?
Several scientific studies have examined the potential link between creatine supplements and hair loss, but the findings remain inconclusive. While some studies suggest creatine may exacerbate hair loss in those predisposed, others find no significant difference in hair thinning between creatine users and non-users.
In a 2009 study with college rugby players, researchers found that taking creatine did increase levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that's often linked to male pattern baldness. However, even though there were changes to the levels of the hormone, it doesn't mean that the players started to lose hair.
Overall, current research does not demonstrate a direct causative relationship between creatine supplements taken at normal recommended dosages and hair loss in most healthy individuals. More long-term data is needed to conclusively determine the impact of prolonged creatine use on hair health.
How Could Creatine Affect Hair Loss?
While research findings remain mixed, some scientists hypothesise potential biological mechanisms by which creatine supplements could exacerbate hair loss in those predisposed:
- Creatine supplements increase DHT levels: DHT is the primary hormone linked to male and female pattern baldness. Studies like the one with rugby players indicate creatine supplementation increases DHT levels, possibly accelerating hair loss in prone individuals. However, several other studies found no significant increase in DHT.
- Creatine causes water retention: Minor water retention is a known creatine side effect. One theory suggests this fluid accumulation strains hair follicles, causing accelerated thinning in those predisposed to genetic baldness. However, research has not substantiated this proposed mechanism.
- Creatine raises testosterone: Creatine may slightly increase natural testosterone levels. Since testosterone can be converted to DHT, this could theoretically aggravate hair loss conditions. However, most studies find creatine does not significantly impact testosterone.
While these hypothesised mechanisms linking creatine and hair loss remain unproven, individuals already experiencing genetic baldness may consider monitoring hair health when starting supplementation. Discontinuing use if accelerated thinning occurs may help mitigate a potential risk.
How to Fix Creatine Hair Loss: Treatment and Prevention
Medical Hair Loss Treatments
If you're facing hair thinning or loss while using creatine, know that you're not alone, and there are effective treatments available. It's okay to feel concerned about these changes, and we're here to guide you through the options:
- Minoxidil (Regaine): This topical solution can stimulate hair regrowth and slow further loss. It works by dilating blood vessels around follicles, improving hair nutrition. It is effective for both male and female pattern baldness.
- Finasteride (Propecia) and Dutasteride (Avodart): work by stopping the body from changing testosterone into DHT (a hormone affecting hair loss). Lowering DHT levels treats hair loss caused by DHT sensitivity. They are most effective for male pattern baldness.
- Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo and Alpecin Double Effect: The caffeine in these shampoos helps improve hair follicle health and may aid regrowth.
- Hair transplant - This is a type of surgery where doctors move hair from the back of your head to areas where your hair is thinning. The hair at the back of your head is usually better at resisting hair loss. This treatment can permanently help to restore your hair.
Lifestyle and Dietary Changes
Making certain lifestyle adjustments and diet changes may also help mitigate hair loss linked to creatine use:
- Increase protein intake - Eating more protein provides the amino acids that build keratin for hair growth. Lean meats, fish, eggs, and beans are good options.
- Take biotin supplements - Biotin aids keratin infrastructure. Dosages of 2.5-5mg per day may improve hair strength and thickness.
- Reduce scalp inflammation - Scalp massages and anti-inflammatory foods like greens, berries, and omega-3s can decrease inflammation that inhibits follicles.
- Lower stress levels - Managing stress and getting enough sleep protects against stress-related thinning. Relaxation techniques help.
- Improve exercise habits - Overtraining raises stress hormones that can affect hair health. Allow proper rest and recovery between intense workouts.
Some people may also opt to try natural or holistic approaches to improve hair growth and thickness, such as:
- Jojoba Oil - Massaging this into the scalp can moisturise hair follicles and reduce inflammation that causes thinning.
- Green Tea - Green tea contains antioxidants that may protect follicles and improve hair health. Drinking green tea or applying it topically may help.
- Rosemary Oil - Massaging this oil into your scalp might improve blood flow and encourage hair growth.
- Saw Palmetto - This plant extract may aid hair growth by blocking DHT production, similar to finasteride. Taking supplements may give results.
However, the efficacy of these natural remedies is not well-supported by scientific data. They should not replace doctor-recommended treatments if hair loss becomes severe. Monitoring closely and quickly returning to medical therapies is advised if natural methods do not improve thinning.
Balancing Muscle Mass and Hair Health
For those concerned about potential hair loss, there are ways to use creatine safely and effectively while minimising risk:
- Start with lower doses, like 3-5g per day, and gradually increase over 4+ weeks if needed. Avoid loading doses.
- Cycle creatine, with 4-8 week breaks every 2-3 months. Don’t take continually for over 3 months.
- Stay hydrated to reduce water retention effects. Drink sufficient water daily.
- Use creatine as one part of a comprehensive workout plan, including strength training and a protein-rich diet for the best muscle-building results.
- Monitor hair health and immediately discontinue use if thinning, shedding, or loss occurs.
With smart supplementation habits, most healthy individuals can likely gain the benefits of creatine for muscle performance and growth while maintaining their existing hair health and fullness.
Move Towards Healthier Hair With The Independent Pharmacy
Dealing with hair loss can be an emotional journey, impacting not just your appearance but also your confidence. We truly understand this challenge and are here to support you with care and understanding every step of the way. Our team at The Independent Pharmacy is here to help get your hair back to looking healthy and full.
We take a personalised approach to treating hair loss because we know every person’s situation is unique. Our licensed pharmacists will take the time to really understand what’s going on with your hair and identify the likely causes.
After a thorough evaluation, we’ll recommend a tailored treatment plan just for you. It may include proven medical treatments like minoxidil or finasteride, if appropriate, based on your specific degree and pattern of hair loss. We’ll also provide tips on lifestyle, diet, and supplements to further boost hair growth.
Our goal is to empower you with the knowledge and support you need to make informed decisions and achieve healthier, fuller hair.
If you feel ready to address your hair loss, remember that it's a brave and positive step. We're here to support you with empathy and expert care, helping you move towards a solution at your own pace.
Give us a call at 0333 2200 519 or fill in your self-assessment and get in touch with our team online.
Let’s work together on regrowing your beautiful head of hair.
Is creatine worth the risks?
For most healthy adults, yes - studies show creatine improves athletic performance, muscle growth, and recovery when used properly. Risks are low with moderate doses, adequate hydration, and cycling. Benefits likely outweigh the risks for those without medical conditions.
Does creatine make your face puffy?
Sometimes - mild water retention can cause temporary puffiness or bloating in the face and extremities. This adverse effect is usually minor and reverses after stopping use. Drinking sufficient fluids helps minimise facial swelling.
What happens when you stop taking creatine?
Discontinuing use may briefly decrease muscle strength, cause water weight loss, and mildly impact mood. However, ceasing supplementation according to safe cycling protocols prevents dependence and long-term effects.