Hair loss after pregnancy: The Complete Picture


Hair loss after pregnancy is a rather common complaint, so many mothers experience postpartum hair loss - in fact, it affects nearly 50 percent of women. The idea of losing one's hair can be somewhat scary, and when you combine that with having a newborn baby at home, it can be a little overwhelming. It is important to keep in mind that many new moms experience hair loss, bald spots, thinning of the hair, and even clumps falling out which usually follows a few months after having a baby.

Will this be permanent?


The good news is that this is not permanent and does not leave any scarring, so the hair will eventually grow back, also some woman won't experience any hair loss or may only experience hair thinning after their second or third child. Furthermore, some woman notice improvements after a year of giving birth while others struggle for much longer.

What does it look like?



It is normal to notice clumpy hair loss and balding around their temporal regions and hairlines. You may also notice thinning hair across the entire scalp that appears weak and flat, other woman report having an itchy scalp.


The image below shows a woman having frontal hair loss
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The image alongside show a woman experiencing thinning along her crest.
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Why do woman loose hair after pregnancy?


During pregnancy, most women don't get much shedding, since estrogen and progesterone levels are higher during pregnancy your hair stays in the growth phase for much longer and looks very think and radiant, once you give birth estrogen level go back to normal and hair goes into the shedding phase. The medical term for this is Telogen effluvium which is basically an excessive loss of hair which can be caused by childbirth, or from other causes like stress.

What if i get severe postpartum hair loss?


In some extreme cases, almost all the hair is lost, and some mums have reported large amounts of hair falling out every day. This leads to depression, and Self-consciousness since woman lose worry about their appearance. Another common complaint is having large amounts of hair fall out while showering, so much that it almost blocks the drain.

How long should I expect this to continue?



As a general rule, it will take around 12 months for your hair to return to normal, so about the time of your new born's first birthday but many women will regain normality even earlier than this. Hair shedding should peak around 4 months after delivery and should slow down after that.


If you find that your hair never regains its fullness after 12 months it might be worth seeing your GP since there are a variety of medical conditions that could be causing this, including iron levels, thyroid problems, and rare autoimmune diseases. Also, keep in mind every woman is different, and it can be normal to have hair thinning past the 12 month period.

Other Causes of Postpartum Hair loss?



Birth Control: Most woman are on some form of birth control, as with anything there can be side effects, including hair loss. Some woman report to experience hair thinning while they are on the pill, while others may see hair thinning once they stop taking the pill. There are various kinds of birth control including patches, pills, and shots and almost all of them affect estrogen levels which have an effect on the uterus meaning sperm cannot penetrate it. Birth control can also affect the hair growth cycle by pushing hair follicles into the rest phase leading to hair loss.

Stress induced Telogen Effluvium: Stress can do strange things to our bodies, and postpartum depression affects about 20 percent of new mums. Stress-induced Telogen Effluvium is often related to anxiety and trauma which can force the hair follicle into its resting state, this results in patients seeings hair thinning due to lack of hairs in the growth phase.

Extreme Hair Loss after pregnancy


In general, most people lose 30 - 150 hairs per day, and new moms can shed up to 400 hairs each day. If you are overly concerned about your hair loss or have many bald spots, you should probably make an appointment with a trichologist, they can assist you with issues related to the hair and scalp. Trichologists deal with issues on the scalp like scaling, itching, and hair loss - they may also examine your head with a microscopic device to help diagnose the problem.

What treatment and vitamins can i use?



There are no real studies that link taking vitamins to seeings increased hair growth however it has been observed that taking oral supplements like Biotin. Any deficiency in biotin is rare however low levels can result in brittle nails and hair loss - taking supplements can also speed up the rate at which hair growth returns.


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Will Rogaine for Women work : Rogaine contains the active ingredient Minoxidil which was originally used to treat hypertension, but it was found to be an effective treatment for hair loss. Rogaine actually increases the blood supply to the hair follicle and this stimulates hair growth.

Is Rogaine safe for breastfeedingThe 5% foam is the recommended safe treatment for women which you gently massage into your scalp. There are very few studies regarding the effect of Minoxidil on breast milk, one woman was found to have minoxidil in her breast milk one hour after taking the oral supplement. The FDA warns against using Rogaine while pregnant or breastfeeding since there is insufficient data to prove its safety. In any case, always consult your physician before taking any form of medication.

Hair Volumizing ProductsThese products can be an effective way to create volume for thinning hair. They contain ingredients that bind to the hair fibers to create stiffness. A volumizing cream or serum can also add density, and target the roots of your hair so your hair may appear thicker. It is important to note that this does not alter the growth of your hair in any way, it is merely cosmetic.

Recommended Vitamins for hair loss
A few supplements that have been linked to healthy hair are as follows:

  • Fish Oil: This can nourishes your scalp, which can promote healthy roots
  • Zin: Zinc is an important mineral for healthy hair and skin
  • B-Complex Vitamins: A B12 deficiency can result in hair loss.
  • Iron: Iron deficiency has a very close link to thinning hair
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D are an important nutrient for hair

Post Telogen effluvium Studies


In order for us to study the complete picture, it is worth noting that only 2 studies have been done in the difference between hair loss during prenatal, and postpartum. One study by Lynfield in 1963 was only done on 26 women, and a second in 2013 by Ekmekci where the data was collected from various woman at different stages during their pregnancy. The data sets are not large, and their conclusions about postpartum hair loss are not concrete. Other factors can contribute to this increase in hair loss including psychological stress, diet, and other conditions.


Conclusion


As with all conditions, it does not affect every person the same way - some woman experience minimal symptoms after childbirth while others cases can be somewhat severe, it is important to realize that your hair will grow back. If you are concerned about your hair loss I would recommend seeing a dermatologist or certified trichologist.




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