Approximately 90% of your hair is growing at any one time, while the other 10% enter a resting phase. Every two to three months the resting hair falls out and allows new hair to grow in its place.
Telogen effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. This is not uncommon, as it affects somewhere between 40 to 50% of women; but like most changes during pregnancy, it is temporary.
Is there abnormal hair loss during pregnancy?
Hair loss that is connected to pregnancy usually occurs after delivery. During pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase, which is part of the normal hair loss cycle.
This condition is not serious enough to cause bald spots or permanent hair loss, and it should begin to diminish within 3-4 months after delivery. If you feel that you are experiencing unusual hair loss while you are pregnant, this may be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
Why do people talk about hair loss and pregnancy?
The most common period of hair loss occurs approximately three months after delivery. The rise in hormones during pregnancy keeps you from losing your hair. After delivery, the hormones return to normal levels, which allows the hair to fall out and return to the normal cycle. The normal hair loss that was delayed during pregnancy may fall out all at once.
Up to 60% of your hair that is in the growth state may enter into the telogen resting state. The hair loss usually peaks 3-4 months after delivery as your hair follicles rejuvenate themselves. As noted above, this hair loss is temporary, and hair loss returns to normal within six to twelve months.
Can hair loss be related to other reproductive health issues?
Hair loss can be triggered by anything that involves a change in the estrogen hormone balance in your system.
Hair loss may result from any one or more of the following:
The Positive Side of Pregnancy and Your Hair:
During pregnancy there is an increase in the level of estrogen hormones. Estrogen causes hair to remain in the growing phase and stimulates the growth of your hair. While you are pregnant, you should expect a full, luxurious head of hair.
Recommendations for Your Hair During Pregnancy and After Delivery:
There are a number of things that you can do to have healthier hair and/or reduce hair loss during pregnancy and after delivery:
- Consult with your health care provider to ensure a proper balance of hormones
- Avoid pigtails, cornrows, hair weaves, braids and tight hair rollers which can pull and stress your hair
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which contain flavonoids and antioxidants that may provide protection for the hair follicles and encourage hair growth
- Use shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica
- Hair is fragile when it is wet, so be gentle; avoid fine tooth combs
- If you need to use blow dryers and other heated hair instruments, use the cool setting
- Supplement your diet with the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B complex
- Biotin (Possibly safe; orally and appropriately)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E (Likely safe if amount does not exceed the RDA; possibly safe if it does)
- Zinc (Likely safe when used orally and appropriately; likely unsafe when used orally in high doses)
Last Updated: 07/2015
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Ch. 15.American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, http://www.aocd.orgNatural Medicines Comprehensive Database, http://www.naturaldatabase.com/American Academy of Dermatology, http://www.aad.org
1. Maintain a proper diet
One of the best kept secrets for healthy hair is a healthy diet. A healthy diet filled with appropriate levels of protein, iron, and other nutrients can improve the health, look, and feel of your hair.
For example, if you find your scalp thinning, we recommend incorporating the following into your diet:
- Protein: A single strand of hair is composed mostly of protein, meaning your hair needs protein to grow.
- Iron: Iron deficiency can lead to hair loss. Make sure you’re getting enough iron to support the growth of your hair.
- Fatty acids: Food items that contain fatty acids, such as salmon, nuts, and seeds, help build the strength and durability of your hair. Try incorporating these acids into your meals, especially if you’re experiencing hair breakage.
2. Avoid stress
Stress can impact your body in many different ways including breakouts, bumps, weight loss, and hair loss. These changes you see on the exterior of your body are caused by the physical reactions occurring deep within your body.
When experiencing a stressful situation, your body releases various hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. These hormones are responsible for a large percentage of stress-induced symptoms, hair loss being one of them.
To prevent stress-induced hair loss, we suggest avoiding stressful situations whenever possible by:
- Practicing deep breathing exercises
- Sleeping at least eight hours a day
- Exercising to stimulate blood flow
- Delegating tasks and projects when necessary
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Knowing when to get help
While some stressful situations are unavoidable, these tips will help reduce the impact stress and hair loss has on your life.
3. Take vitamins
Hair loss can also be a sign that your body is lacking vitamins. The best way to determine if you’re deficient in certain vitamins is to get a standard blood test. The results of your test can reveal whether or not you need more zinc, vitamin C, etc.
However, the most common vitamins that impact hair growth include the following:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
If you’re experiencing hair loss, we recommend adding these vitamins to your daily regimen to reverse the signs of hair loss and stimulate the growth of healthy, new hair.
7. Perform at-home remedies
At Arizona Dermatology, we’re not the biggest advocates of at-home remedies and treatments. Oftentimes, they can do more harm than good. However, in some cases, certain natural at-home remedies can help. For example, we’d recommend the following for preventing further hair loss:
- Hair oil treatments: Oil treatments can assist hair loss that’s caused by a dry, flaky scalp. For best results, massage the hair oil into your scalp and apply pressure using your fingertips. Most hair oil treatments use natural ingredients such as coconut, almond, or olive oil.
- Hair masks: Hair masks can improve the health of damaged hair. They’re also effective because they take advantage of natural ingredients and are completely customizable. For example, if your hair is dry, you can create a hair mask using olive oil as your base to replenish moisture. If you experience a lot of breakage, almond oil is meant to nourish and strengthen your hair.
When partaking in at-home remedies, make sure the ingredients are safe, natural, and are proven to be effective before use.