Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss | Jae Pak MD

- Reviewed by: Dr. Jae Pak, M.D.

Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?

Within fitness and athleticism, the quest for improved performance and amplified muscle mass has led many to explore various dietary supplements

Creatine stands out as one of the most sought-after. While it promises numerous benefits, concerns about the potentially negative side effects of creatine supplementation have arisen amongst its users.

One of the most common questions in fitness forums and gym circles is: Could there be a potential link between creatine intake and hair loss? 

While some anecdotal evidence suggests a connection, it’s essential to turn to rigorous scientific studies to learn the truth. 

What Is Creatine?

At its core, creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid predominantly found in certain protein-rich foods, notably red meat and fish. However, its natural presence isn’t limited to these sources alone. Our bodies also produce creatine in small amounts, primarily in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.

On a molecular level, creatine’s significance cannot be understated. It interacts seamlessly with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and phosphocreatine — a naturally occurring substance that maintains and recycles ATP and phosphates. This partnership is vital, as it aids in the rapid regeneration of ATP, crucial for short-term, high-intensity activities. 

As such, creatine becomes indispensable in energy production within muscle cells, supporting quick bursts of energy and power during strenuous activities like weightlifting or sprinting.

Why Do People Use Creatine Supplements?

The world of fitness and sports nutrition offers many supplements designed to cater to diverse needs. Creatine stands out among these, touted for its variety of benefits that appeal to everyone from highly dedicated bodybuilders to casual gym-goers and every type of fitness enthusiast in between.

Here are a few examples of what creatine does to the body: 

Enhance Muscle Strength

For athletes and gym aficionados alike, increasing muscle strength is a highly coveted benefit. Creatine monohydrate, the most studied form of creatine, has shown consistent improvements in muscle strength. Replenishing ATP during high-intensity exercise allows users to lift heavier weights and perform more repetitions, thus helping to enhance overall muscle strength.

Accelerate Muscle Growth

Supplementing with creatine has been linked with muscle hypertrophy or growth. The process commonly known as creatine loading, where higher doses of the supplement are consumed in the initial days, has been observed to promote a more rapid increase in muscle volume, partly due to water retention in muscle cells.

Boost Athletic Performance

In sports where short bursts of energy are crucial, like sprinting or powerlifting, creatine proves to be invaluable. It provides a quick energy source, enhancing performance during short-duration, high-intensity activities. This makes it popular among athletes who need that explosive power during games and events.

Improve Endurance

While primarily known for its benefits in short-duration exercises, creatine also has a place in endurance sports. It aids in reducing muscle cell damage and tension that commonly follows exhaustive exercises, thus potentially improving endurance and stamina.

Quick Post Workout Recovery

Muscles are often fatigued and depleted after a rigorous session of high-intensity exercise. Creatine aids in quicker post-workout recovery by replenishing ATP stores faster, reducing muscle cell damage and decreasing tension. 

Support Brain Function

Beyond muscles, emerging research suggests creatine’s role in brain health. It may support cognitive functions, especially under conditions of sleep deprivation or mental fatigue.

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What Are the Common Side Effects of Creatine?

Just as with any supplement, it’s imperative to be informed of potential side effects. Creatine is no exception, and while many athletes swear by its benefits, it’s essential to differentiate between misconceptions and the actual side effects:

  • Stomach Discomfort: Some individuals, especially those who partake in creatine loading, may experience stomach discomfort. This can often be alleviated by spreading out the dosage or opting for a different form of creatine.
  • Water Retention: A common misconception is that all weight gain from creatine is muscle mass. In reality, a significant portion of the initial weight gain can be attributed to water being pulled into the muscle cells.
  • Muscle Cramps: There have been reports of muscle cramps, particularly during high-intensity activities. However, the evidence here is mixed. Some studies show no difference between creatine users and those taking a placebo in terms of cramping.
  • Diarrhea: Excessive intake, especially during the loading phase, can lead to diarrhea in some individuals. It’s always recommended to follow the recommended dosage.
  • Dehydration: Creatine pulls water into your muscle cells and retains it, potentially leading to dehydration if adequate water intake isn’t maintained.

What Is DHT (Dihydrotestosterone)?

Dihydrotestosterone, commonly known as DHT, is an androgen and a potent derivative of the male sex hormone testosterone. While testosterone is central to the development of male characteristics during puberty, DHT plays a pivotal role in male traits well into adulthood. 

Primarily produced in the testes and prostate, its formation is catalyzed by an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme drives the conversion of testosterone to DHT. The conversion naturally increases with age, but lifestyle choices such as smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and eating a poor diet can further boost DHT production. 

Unfortunately, in some individuals, particularly those genetically predisposed to androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness, DHT can become an antagonist to healthy hair growth. Its interaction with receptors on hair follicles, especially on the scalp, sets the stage for hair thinning and loss.

How Does DHT Impact Hair?

Hair growth is a meticulously orchestrated process, undergoing cycles of growth, rest, and shedding. DHT, however, can play the role of a disruptor in this cycle

By binding to receptors on hair follicles, DHT can shrink these follicles. This action adversely affects the growth cycle by shortening the anagen (growth) phase and extending the telogen (resting) phase. 

Consequently, hairs grow thinner, shorter, and weaker. As DHT continues its onslaught on these follicular units, the hair shaft weakens, leading to hair thinning, a receding hairline, and, in extreme cases, complete baldness.

Does Creatine Influence DHT Levels?

The relationship between creatine and DHT levels has been a topic of considerable debate and interest within sports nutrition and endocrinology. 

One study conducted by Johann Van Der Merwe pointed to a potential increase in levels of DHT following creatine supplementation in college-aged rugby players. This study suggested that during weeks of creatine consumption, there was a significant rise in DHT levels

However, it’s crucial to underline that this is just one study among many. The consensus on this matter within bodies like the International Society of Sports Nutrition and sports medicine communities remains inconclusive. More comprehensive, long-term studies are necessary to draw definitive conclusions.

Is There a Connection Between Creatine and Hair Loss?

So, given the potential influence of creatine on DHT levels, it’s only reasonable to wonder if creatine could be a hidden culprit behind hair loss. While anecdotal evidence suggests a correlation between the two, the scientific community has yet to arrive at a unanimous agreement. 

However, the documented effects of creatine on your body’s DHT and testosterone ratio could have a negative effect, especially for those who may be experiencing other common causes of hair loss. In such cases, creatine use would likely exacerbate the effects and result in more significant hair loss. 

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What Are Other Common Causes of Hair Loss?

While the connection between creatine and hair loss is still debated, hair loss itself is influenced by several factors. These range from intrinsic genetic predispositions to external environmental and lifestyle factors:

Genetic Factors

A prime factor in hair loss is genetics. Conditions like androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness are largely hereditary. Here, an individual’s genetic makeup predisposes them to hair thinning and loss, often manifesting in a recognizable pattern, from a receding hairline to bald patches.

Hormonal Changes

Hormones play a pivotal role in many of our bodily functions, including hair growth — fluctuations, whether due to pregnancy, menopause, or thyroid problems, can lead to hair loss. For instance, postpartum hair loss is common due to hormonal shifts after childbirth.

Autoimmune Disease

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly targets and attacks hair follicles. This can result in unpredictable and patchy hair loss.

Medical Conditions

Apart from autoimmune conditions, other medical issues like thyroid disorders, scalp infections, or even certain skin disorders can trigger hair loss. An overactive or underactive thyroid can lead to hair thinning.

Medications and Supplements

Certain medications, whether for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart issues, or high blood pressure, can have side effects leading to hair loss. While some may experience this temporarily, others might see prolonged effects.

Radiation Therapy

Individuals undergoing radiation therapy, especially targeting the head or neck region, are likely to experience hair loss. This loss can be temporary or permanent, based on the intensity and duration of the treatment.

Stress and Trauma

Both emotional and physical stress can lead to temporary hair loss. Telogen effluvium, for instance, is a condition where stress pushes a large number of hair follicles into a resting phase, leading to simultaneous shedding after a few months.

Hairstyles and Treatments

Consistent use of tight hairstyles, like cornrows or tight ponytails, can lead to traction alopecia. Additionally, excessive heat treatments or harsh chemical applications can weaken the hair structure, leading to breakage and loss.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Healthy hair growth requires a balanced diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Deficiencies, especially in iron, vitamin D, biotin, and protein, can hinder hair growth and health.


Aging is an inevitable process, and with it comes changes in hair texture, density, and growth rate. It’s natural for hair to thin and shed more as one grows older.

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How Can You Treat Hair Loss?

Hair loss, a concern affecting many worldwide, can dent one’s self-esteem. Though the plethora of treatments available might seem overwhelming, understanding each option can help in making an informed decision.


Medications like oral finasteride can help slow the progression of hair loss. While not entirely ensuring hair regrowth, it primarily inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Minoxidil, commonly available as a topical solution, has been successful for many in promoting hair regrowth, but it requires consistent application and might not work for everyone.

Hair Transplant

Hair transplant is a robust solution, and Jae Pak MD Medical is an instantly recognizable name in this domain. By moving hair follicles from one part of the body to the balding areas, it promises natural-looking results. 

Notably, Dr. Jae Pak’s expertise in FUT, FUE, and Long Hair FUE procedures stands out. However, patience is crucial; the desired density and growth might take up to a year post-procedure.

Laser Therapy

This non-invasive method uses red light to invigorate hair follicles, stimulating growth. Often, it’s seen as an adjunct therapy, complementing other treatments.

Scalp Micropigmentation

A cutting-edge procedure that involves tattooing tiny dots resembling hair follicles on the scalp. This gives the appearance of a fuller, denser head of hair, especially suitable for those not opting for surgical procedures.

PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma)

While PRP treatments, which involve using the patient’s blood to stimulate hair growth, have garnered attention, they’re not always the top recommendation. Many professionals find Microneedling or Microchanneling to be more potent, often yielding consistent outcomes.


These treatments revolve around creating micro-injuries to the scalp, thereby triggering the body’s healing process and stimulating hair growth.

Scalp Massage

A simple yet effective method, scalp massages enhance blood circulation, promoting healthier hair follicles and potentially boosting hair growth.

Nutritional Supplements

A well-balanced diet is crucial. In cases where dietary intake is inadequate, supplements rich in biotin, iron, and other vital nutrients can be beneficial.

Lifestyle Changes

Reducing stress, avoiding tight hairstyles, and using gentle hair care products can make a significant difference in preserving and promoting hair health.

The Takeaway

The debate around creatine and hair loss is ongoing. However, what’s clear is the multi-pronged approach to tackling hair loss. 

For those seeking expert advice and individualized treatment plans, Dr. Jae Pak and his team here at Jae Pak MD Medical offer comprehensive solutions, marrying medical expertise with the latest technological advancements.

If you’re experiencing hair loss for any reason, schedule a consultation with us today so we can recommend the best solution for you. 



Creatine: What It Does, Benefits, Supplements & Safety | Cleveland Clinic

Physiology, Adenosine Triphosphate | NCBI Bookshelf

The Creatine-Phosphocreatine System: There’s More Than One Song in Its Repertoire | PMC

The Different Types of Creatine | Sports Illustrated

Creatine Supplementation for Muscle Growth: A Scoping Review of Randomized Clinical Trials from 2012 to 2021 | PMC

Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations | PMC

Effect of Creatine Supplementation on Muscle Damage and Repair Following Eccentrically-Induced Damage to the Elbow Flexor Muscles | PMC

Creatine Supplementation Enhances Muscle Force Recovery After Eccentrically-Induced Muscle Damage in Healthy Individuals | JISSN

Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Cognitive Function of Healthy Individuals: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials | PMC

Adverse Effects of Creatine Supplementation: Fact or Fiction? | NCBI Bookshelf

DHT (Dihydrotestosterone): What It Is, Side Effects & Levels | Cleveland Clinic

Dihydrotestosterone Regulates Hair Growth Through the Wnt/β-Catenin Pathway in C57BL/6 Mice and In Vitro Organ Culture | Frontiers

Three Weeks of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Affects Dihydrotestosterone to Testosterone Ratio in College-Aged Rugby Players | NCBI Bookshelf

Common Questions and Misconceptions About Creatine Supplementation: What Does the Scientific Evidence Really Show? | NCBI Bookshelf

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