Everyone loses a couple of hair strands everyday – about 80 to 100 strands of hair on the pillows or in our combs daily are no cause for alarm. At any particular time, we have up to 80% of our hair growing and about 10% in the resting stage. The rest are in a stage called Telogen phase where hair strands have fully grown and begin to fall off for new hair strands to develop. This is the normal cycle of our hair.
What is Telogen Effluvium?
Telogen Effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair within one to six months after pregnancy i.e in excess of 400 hair strands daily. This is not uncommon and with other changes during and after pregnancy, it is temporary.
To understand the cause of excessive hair loss, estrogen and progesterone levels in the body are at their highest during pregnancy of which side effect include stagnation of the hair follicles in the resting (catagen) phase. This is why a number of women do say their hair feels so full, lustrous and thick, they have hair on their head that should have fallen off some time ago.
Some women actually experience a change in the structure of their hair; it becomes curlier, or straight, darker or even a shade or two lighter. Be prepared for some hair differences during your pregnancy, even if you’d prefer not to have any.
In the months following child birth, hormone levels begin to return to normal and the hair strands begin to fall off in bulk leading to patches around the scalp. This period takes a maximum of six months to notice regrowth in the affected areas.
If re-growth is not forth coming after six months post partum, it could be that pregnancy has caused iron deficiency in the blood or hyperthyroidism leading to hair loss. It would be wise to investigate through a doctor and request for a blood test.
Hair changes aren’t just limited to what’s sprouting on your head either. Many women find an increase in their body hair as well. Increasing hair growth on their legs, chest, in their armpits, pubic area and even around their nipples can all make for some interesting observations. You may find you need to wax, tweeze, thread and/or shave more frequently when you are pregnant. If you are particularly troubled you may want to talk to a dermatologist about treatment options.
What else can cause hair thinning during pregnancy
- Thyroid imbalance (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism)
- Iron deficiency and anaemia
- Lack of adequate Vitamin B12
- Inadequate Folic Acid intake
- Miscarriage or stillbirth
- Sudden shock which may have been physical or emotional
What treatments are available for hair loss after pregnancy
Taking care of an infant can be pretty challenging on new moms as well as stressful. The best treatment for hair loss will be to do as much as you can to take care of your self while taking care of your newborn, that is
- Ensuring you have enough protein in your balanced diet.
- keeping tabs of your blood sugar, iron level, zinc and vitamin D.
- Regualar shampoo and conditioning the hair can alleviate dry itchy/ inflamed scalp which can minimize hair loss.
- Minoxidil tablets can be taken postpartum to increase speed at which you recover lost hair