Postpartum hair loss is a frequent dermatologic concern of new mothers and as one may expect, may impact a new mother’s self-confidence and mental state. Hormonal changes during pregnancy promotes an increase in hair growth (thick, luscious hair during pregnancy is definitely a benefit!). However, during postpartum estrogen levels begin to fall resulting in what is termed as postpartum telogen effluvium, which can be devastating for many and sometimes prolonged.
In a normal healthy scalp, about 80% of our hair follicles are in the actively growing stage (anagen) and about 14-15% are in the “resting” phase (telogen). As a result of hormonal change and stress on the body (childbirth), the hair transitions rapidly from the growing stage to the resting phase, resulting in rapid shedding.
Postpartum hair loss may initially start as diffuse shedding and thinning of the hair and may persist for months. For a few females experiencing postpartum hair loss they may experience a more pronounced thinning and widening of their part on the crown of the scalp and a receding hairline, this type of hair loss is referred to as androgenetic or female pattern hair loss.
Though postpartum hair loss is frequently reported, there are few small studies on this type of hair loss and it’s progression in the literature. Not all females experience postpartum hair loss and factors associated with increased risk are seldomly described. Those with c-section, febrile states, recent major surgery, hyperthryoidism and history of hair loss are at an increased risk of postpartum hair loss. Majority of females experiencing postpartum hair loss have mild hair loss (minor diffuse shedding with no complete visibility of the scalp). Few experience more significant hair loss and may require dermatologic evaluation for treatment.
A few tips to help preventing worsening of hair loss in those struggling with postpartum hair loss:
Avoid using a brush or comb that pulls and tugs on your hair, risk losing more hair. Gentle hair care is essential.
I frequently recommend avoid putting your hair in a tight ponytail (especially when wet or at bedtime), loose hairstyles are recommended in any individual experiencing hair loss.
Contact your dermatologist to discuss over-the-counter treatment for postpartum hair loss.