Getting Real About Postpartum Hair Loss
By L'Oreal Thompson Payton
If you're someone who experienced fuller, more lustrous hair during pregnancy, sudden shedding may come as quite the shock and yet, it's perfectly normal.
While pregnancy hormones can keep your hair from falling out, once your estrogen levels drop you may notice an increase in hair loss, otherwise known postpartum hair loss.
According to Dr. Jessica Shepherd, chief medical officer of Verywell Health, birthing parents can shed up to 400 hairs a day. But the good news is shedding should subside after a couple of months.
"The hair is in a resting phase during pregnancy and then hair loss usually peaks three to four months after delivery as your hair follicles rejuvenate themselves," she explains. "This hair loss is normal and will return within six to twelve months." To learn more, we talked to Dr. Shepherd:
Anser: What causes postpartum hair loss?
Dr. Shepherd: An increase and decrease in growth of hair is common during pregnancy, and after pregnancy, women can continue to experience a loss of hair. This is usually due to changes in hormones during the pregnancy and typically normal. During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone levels are high which is what typically leads to thicker, longer hair, and then after baby is born, those hormones level out which is when women can start to see some hair loss.
In the first one to five months postpartum, 40-50% of women can experience excessive shedding of hair; however, it’s usually temporary and will return to normal after some time. In few cases, women can have hair loss in the frontal region of the head, which may not resolve after pregnancy. Some other causes of hair loss in pregnancy can be attributed to miscarriage or stillbirth, abortions or a hormonal imbalance during the pregnancy such as the thyroid.
Anser: What can people do to prevent postpartum hair loss?
Dr. Shepherd: One way is to eat a nutrient-rich diet that includes vitamin B complex, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin E (as long as the amount does not exceed the recommended dose) and zinc (again, if used orally and appropriately). These are known to promote healthy hair growth and can be found in foods like eggs, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, nuts and fruits.
You can also consider taking them as supplements. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables that contain flavonoids and antioxidants; these can provide protection for the hair follicles and encourage new hair growth. Sometimes it’s recommended to continue your prenatal vitamins and getting good amounts of iron and protein as well.
Anser: What types of treatments are available for postpartum hair loss?
Dr. Shepherd: Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP injections, which uses a patient’s own platelets, can help with hair loss; however, this procedure should be done after the initial six to 12 months postpartum. The best solution is patience and time, but if the hair loss is significant, you can consider seeing a dermatologist to determine your best treatment plan or rule out other underlying health issues that could be contributing to hair loss.
Anser: What advice do you have for people experiencing postpartum hair loss?
Dr. Shepherd: The journey of pregnancy and the postpartum phase is very complex and often has changes that require time to adjust. If hair loss extends past 12 months, consider getting more input from a medical professional.
L'Oreal Thompson Payton is a freelance writer, motivational speaker and author of the forthcoming self-help book, Trust Your Dopeness.