Postpartum Hair Loss – What All New Moms Should Know

Author – Dr. Sanober Pezad Doctor, MD

If you have noticed excessive hair loss after the birth of your little one, there is no need to panic. Postpartum is usually a challenging period because you are excited and exhausted with the baby, self-care is often neglected, and seeing strands of your hair shed away is definitely not the most comforting picture during those times either. Here are a few things that new mamas need to know about postpartum hair loss so that they are better prepared. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “New moms usually observe significant hair loss a few months after having a baby. This is normal and NOT true hair loss.”

Postpartum alopecia is the medical terminology used to describe the diffuse loss of scalp hair following the birth of the baby. This loss of hair is considered a type of excessive hair shedding, also known as telogen effluvium, and can be cosmetically distressing for the patient. 

During its lifetime, the hair follicle goes through continuous cycles of growth, repair, and rest before it falls off and new hair growth takes place. These phases are known as anagen, catagen, and telogen phases respectively. The anagen phase is a period of active hair growth. During the period of pregnancy, most of the hair follicles remain in the state of anagen, as the body focuses on the growth of most cells for the active development of the fetus in the womb. 

However, a drop in the hormones after the delivery of the baby leads to the shift of the hair follicles into the telogen phase, and this results in the active shedding of hair. In cases of postpartum alopecia, approximately 30 – 40% of the hairs are retained in the telogen phase. [1] The result is diffuse and rapid hair loss of the accumulated telogen phase hairs. 

While the exact reason for postpartum hair loss is not known, it is believed that a drop in hormones post-pregnancy, together with neglected nutritional needs, hormonal fluctuations, reduction in blood circulation, and change in lifestyle habits contribute towards this form of excessive hair shedding.

It is very common to notice hair shedding two to five months following parturition. [2, 3]

Similar to telogen effluvium, women usually become aware of the increased hair loss after noticing a daily large amount of accumulated hair on the shower drain following each hair washing. After a few weeks of continuing daily hair loss, you may even notice that your hairline has receded and there is marked hair thinning, particularly in the area of the temples. Keep in mind, that the hair loss is always diffuse. This means you will not notice visible bald areas on the scalp. 

The duration of hair shedding in postpartum alopecia may last three to six months after which the excessive hair shedding slowly stops. Most women see their hair return to its normal fullness by their child’s first birthday. Some women, however, may have slower re-growth, and they may find that their hair density may be less than it was before childbirth. [3]

While this is a temporary condition and normalcy should restore soon, here are a few ways to navigate through postpartum hair loss comfortably:

  1. 1. Concentrate on nutritious foods. Find the right balance and ensure you’re getting all the nutrition you require to take care of yourself and the baby. A variety of colored fruits, vegetables, nuts, avocados, and essential fats are a few things I wouldn’t miss.
  2. 2. Avoid the use of excessively hot water while showering. 
  3. 3. Make sure you dilute your shampoo before use.
  4. 4. Avoid any harsh chemical treatments or coloring/straightening of the hair. Give your hair some time to get back. 

While postpartum hair loss will eventually stop after 2-3 hair cycles, the use of Revian’s Red hair growth system can help stabilize further hair loss and accelerate improvement in hair density.

References

  1. 1. Orfanos CE. Androgenetic alopecia: clinical aspects and treatment. In: Orfanos CE, Happle R, eds. Hair and hair diseases. New York: Springer- Verlag, 1990:486-527.
  2. 2. Headington JT. Telogen effluvium. Arch Dermatol 1993;129:356-63. 
  3. 3. Murray JC. Pregnancy and the skin. Dermatol Clin 1990;8:327-34.

About Dr. Sanober Pezad Doctor

    Dr. Sanober Pezad Doctor, also known as Mrs. Dr. Doctor, is a Double-board certified dermatologist, clinical homeopath, and holistic skin & health coach. She is the founder & creator of AGEnesis™- The Holistic Aging Blueprint & Baby SkinWise™. Dr. Doctor holds multiple national and international awards, research studies, and recognition for novel therapies to her credit in dermatosurgery, pediatric dermatology, and trichology. She is a proactive, compassionate medical practitioner with a thorough understanding of overall mind-body-spiritual wellness. She is also a simple mommy to the core and strongly believes that prevention is better than cure. Her ultimate goal is to help everyone be the healthiest version of themselves. Get a Free Copy of her coveted ‘Glow from within’ Guide and subscribe to her weekly newsletter to get the latest updates on holistic health & skincare straight to your inbox.

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