There are so many changes that occur around being a new mom, with the biggest and most exciting being the arrival of your new child. But throughout the experience of pregnancy and birth, and in the months postpartum, a woman’s body is going through so many changes. Hormone levels are shifting during and after pregnancy, which can have an effect on your skin and hair. During the pregnancy, many women find that their hair is thicker and fuller than ever before but afterwards, between 40 and 50% of women postpartum, may experience the alarming condition of postpartum hair loss.
It is natural for people to shed their hair – in fact, on average, women lose 100 hairs a day. However, hormonal changes in women postpartum can lead to excessive shedding of the hair. The discovery of this condition can often feel like a bad dream: you are brushing your hair and notice a whole clump comes away on the brush, or you are washing your hair in the shower only to rinse out the shampoo and find a large swath of your hair clogging the shower drain. After so much change, postpartum hair loss can feel overwhelming and anxiety inducing. But rest assured, the condition is very common and only temporary. While there is not much to be done in terms of prevention, below you will find many methods for helping to mask or lessen the symptoms, including choosing the right haircare products, hair styles, and supplements.
While you are navigating the changes in your body postpartum, a good course of action is consulting with an experienced, board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green in NYC. Dr. Green provides expert, individualized advice and treatment plans to her patients at her Upper East Side, New York City, dermatology office. She is a specialist in hair loss, whether it be from postpartum hair loss, telogen effluvium, thyroid conditions, alopecia areata, or other causes of hair shedding. Dr. Green’s goal is to diagnose the cause of your hair loss and determine the best treatment to regrow your hair. Whether it be topical or oral treatments for your hair loss, or the best plan to grow new healthy hair, Dr. Green is here to help.
What is postpartum hair loss?
Postpartum hair loss is common condition that affects between 40 and 50 percent of women who have recently given birth. The condition is characterized by excessive shedding of the hair in the months following the birth of your child. The thinning hair is often most noticeable along the hairline and for women with longer hair. While the effects can certainly be disconcerting, true postpartum hair loss is only temporary, though the amount of time it takes for the hair growth cycle to stabilize and for regrowth to occur is variable from individual to individual. It is difficult to predict who will be effected by postpartum hair loss as the effects of pregnancy are different for each woman. Further, there is no set way to prevent or treat postpartum hair loss, though there are a variety of lifestyle changes to promote hair health, and mask the effects of the condition.
What causes postpartum hair loss?
Many patients wonder, why does postpartum hair loss happen, and the answer lies in the shift in pregnancy hormones. Your hair naturally goes through cycles of growth, resting, and then shedding, with most women losing on average 100 hairs a day. Most of the hair on your head – between 85 and 95 percent of all hair – is in the growing phase, or anagen phase, at any given time. That means between 5 and 15 percent of hair on your head is in the resting stage, after which the shedding begins in order to make room for new hair growth. But to understand why excessive shedding occurs after pregnancy, it is important to look back at what is happening to your hair during pregnancy.
As a result of pregnancy, levels of estrogen rise in the body. This increase in estrogen can effect a variety of functions in your body – one of which being the cycle of hair growth and shedding. While estrogen levels are high, you hair remains in the resting stage and does not move into the shedding stage. So the thick mane of hair during pregnancy is not the result of an increase in hair growth but rather an increase in hair retention. After giving birth, your hormone levels return to pre-pregnancy levels, meaning your level of estrogen drops. The hair shedding phase, which naturally comes after the hair resting phase, is then triggered for a much larger amount of hair than usual, leading to excessive hair shedding. This higher than average amount of hair loss is called telogen effluvium.
When does postpartum hair loss start?
Your hair naturally goes through cycles of growth that consist of the growth phase, the resting phase, and the shedding phase. During pregnancy, rising hormone levels, such as increased estrogen and progesterone, lead to the hair remaining in the resting phase. After birth, when the hormone levels fall, the hair that had entered the resting phase during pregnancy, will begin to fall out as a result of the shift into the shedding phase. This shift to the shedding phase, where hair falls out, can occur between three and five months after giving birth. While the start of the condition is variable from person to person, on average, this is when significant hair loss begins to occur postpartum.
PRP for hair – 2 sessions, 6 months
How long does postpartum hair loss last?
The amount of time that postpartum hair loss lasts is variable. Typically, it takes three months once the shedding phase begins for the new growth to occur in the area. Not all of the hair follicles that have moved to the resting stage during pregnancy will move into the shedding phase at once and as such, the excessive shedding can occur for six months to fifteen months postpartum. After fifteen months, the regrowth should have taken place and your hair should resume its pre-pregnancy growth cycle. Some women find that while the regrowth has occurred, their hair has not grown back with the same density as before their pregnancy.
When does postpartum hair loss peak?
For most women who experience postpartum hair loss, the peak of excessive hair shedding occurs four months after they have given birth. Postpartum hair loss typically begins between three and five months following birth and can last for up to fifteen months.
When does postpartum hair loss stop?
The effects of postpartum hair loss – excessive shedding of the hair – does stop after the hair follicles that remained in the resting stage during pregnancy have completed their shedding stage. Following the shedding stage, regrowth occurs, though often, the hair does not grow back as densely as before. The shedding stage of the hair that arrested in the resting phase during pregnancy typically ends between six and fifteen months after birth. In other words, postpartum hair loss should stop after six to fifteen months.
Does postpartum hair loss grow back?
Yes! Postpartum hair loss is a temporary condition. The hair loss that occurs is a result of the shedding phase of the hair growth cycle, which occurs in order to make room for new growth. As a result, the hair that is lost during postpartum hair loss will grow back, though perhaps not with the same density as pre-pregnancy. If the alopecia, or excessive hair loss, continues for longer than fifteen months postpartum, it is best to seek out an expert dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green. Hair loss that continues for longer than fifteen months may be a sign of a larger problem with your thyroid, low Vitamin D levels, or anemia. If you ever have any questions about your postpartum hair loss, you can schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Green, who will be able to advise you on the best methods to ensure new hair growth.
Treatment of postpartum hair loss
There are times when hair regrowth after childbirth does not occur as quickly as one would like. It is important to continue taking prenatal vitamins and check other vitamin levels and hormones, to make sure that the pregnancy hormones have returned to normal. Dr. Green will do a proper assessment of your hair, scalp, and medical history, to ensure that the cause of your hair loss is not related to any systemic disease, such as lupus, or other autoimmune diseases.
If you are not breast feeding, Dr. Green may suggest other treatments for your hair loss such as topical minoxidil (Rogaine), or Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) to thicken your existing hair and to help encourage new hair growth. A healthy life style, proper hair health, and rest, are all important in allowing the new hair to grow. Avoiding hair styles that can pull your hair or affect your scalp should also be avoided during this time.
PRP for hair – 3 sessions, 3 months
Can you prevent postpartum hair loss?
Unfortunately, postpartum hair loss is not a condition that can be prevented. It is possible to minimize the severity and promote healthy hair by maintaining a well-balanced diet and continuing to take you prenatal vitamins. In order to lower the risk of hair loss, you should also refrain from using products that lead to hair breakage, typically hair styling implements that use heat, such as straightening irons, blow dryers, or curlers. Dr. Green also recommends hair styles that do not pull at your scalp, which includes tight ponytails and braids.
What can I do about postpartum hair loss?
Many patients wonder, how to treat postpartum depression. While the condition cannot be prevented, there are several ways to minimize or hide the symptoms of postpartum hair loss. These haircare methods are simple life style changes that can help to retain hair or reduce the visibility of hair loss.
Hair Care Products: When trying to strengthen your hair, you can turn to a volumizing shampoo. Volumizing shampoos often contain ingredients such as biotin, which coat the hair to strengthen the hair follicle and make your hair look fuller. Other products that keep your hair moist, such as a mousse, can also help to make your hair look fuller. You need to be careful avoid “conditioning shampoos” or any other intense conditioners. These conditioners can way down the hair, which further speeds up the process of hair loss. Instead, seek out a conditioner for fine hair, as those conditioners will be gentler on the hair follicle and not weigh down your hair.
Hair Styling: If you are experiencing postpartum hair lost, a visit to the stylist may be in order. Postpartum hair loss often results in hair loss along the hairline framing the face. As such, a middle part hairstyle with longer bangs meant to frame the face can make hair loss more visible. A haircut with bangs along the forehead and many layers can help to hide the hair loss at the hairline. Further, wearing your hair curly can help to hide the loss as opposed to wearing your hair straight. Stylists also recommend hair accessories like headbands or headscarves to cover up hair loss.
Does postpartum hair loss happen to everyone?
While postpartum hair loss does not happen to everyone, it is a very common condition. Almost half of all women who have given birth experience hair loss postpartum. As everyone’s rate of hormonal changes is different, the severity and amount of time the condition lasts varies from person to person.
Does collagen help with postpartum hair loss?
Collagen is a protein that is found naturally in your body. It gives your skin, hair, and joints structure and strength. As collagen production decreases in our body as we age, collagen supplements have risen in popularity. Collagen is important in giving hair strength and for that reason, many patients wonder if collagen supplements can help to address postpartum hair loss. Some say that taking collagen supplements can help to boost the growth of new hair following the hair loss and can strengthen hair for a fuller look.
Before taking any supplements be sure to consult with your OBGYN. Many supplements are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, meaning there is little oversight to determine if they are safe and effective for women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. For your safety and the safety of your baby, it is imperative to receive the go-ahead from your OBGYN before consuming any supplements or medications in case the side effects are harmful.
PRP for hair – 4 sessions, 4 months
Be aware of hair tourniquets
Something to be aware of as a new mom, but especially if you are experiencing postpartum hair loss is hair tourniquets. A hair tourniquet is when a hair falls out of your head and gets wrapped around your baby’s finger, toe, or any other body part. This can cut off the circulation to that area for your baby. If you notice your baby crying for an unexplained reason, check their hands and feet for a hair tourniquet. If you find one, remove it by gently unraveling it. If you cannot find the loose end from which to unravel it, gently cut if off with small scissors. If you are struggling to remove the tourniquet, seek help from a healthcare professional immediately.
How do I get started today with treatment for my postpartum hair loss?
Dr. Michele Green is an expert in hair loss, whether it to postpartum hair loss or hair loss related to hormonal or metabolic changes. If you are experiencing hair thinning or new hair loss, please consult Dr. Green at her private discreet NYC dermatology office today. Dr. Green is a specialist in hair loss, and hair loss treatments, including Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) for hair loss. It is important to address the first signs of hair thinning early on, in order to prevent excessive hair loss, which cannot be treated. If you are experiencing postpartum hair loss or other types of hair loss, please contact Dr. Michele Green today at (212) 535-3088 or contact her online.