Post Partum Hair Loss

Hair Loss After Delivery

Post partum hair loss (hair loss after delivery) is common and nearly all women develop some degree of shedding after delivery. I was recently interview for the Huffington Post on this subject.

Postpartum Hair Loss Can Be Severe And Devastating For New Moms

Post-partum hair loss is a normal physiological process and not a sign of disease. During pregnancy, the rate of daily hair shedding decreases to extremely low levels and the result is an increased density on the scalp for most women. The result is that hair appears quite full for many women while pregnant. After delivery the changes in estrogen and progrestone trigger a resetting of the shedding rates back to what they once were - and this comes about only by increased shedding of hair initially.

Post partum hair shedding typically starts 2-3 months post partum and can last 6 months or more. By the time of the baby’s first birthday, hair shedding should be returning back to normal for the new mother. If not, careful review should be done by a dermatologist.

Practical Advice for Women with Hair Shedding

1. Wash and shampoo as often needed.  More hair will come out on the days that the hair is shampooed but this will not affect the long term density of hair.  The use of a volumizing or thickening shampoo may help the hair look fuller and feel thicker.

2. Use a conditioner formulated for fine hair. I recommend that women with shedding avoid heavy conditioners as these tend to weigh down the hair. A conditioner formulated specifically for "fine hair" tends not to weigh the hair down as much.  The conditioner should be applied only to the ends of the hair.   If it is applied to the scalp and the entire hair it tends to weigh the hair down.

3. Avoid hair styles that puts stress on the hair.  This includes tight braids, pigtails, cornrows, or a tight pony tail. These hair styling practices can lead to more hair being pulled out.

4. Avoid excessive combing of hair when it is wet.  This can lead to more hair breakage. The use of a large tooth comb can be helpful.

5. Eat as healthy as possible.

6. Talk openly about hair loss concerns. With so much focus on the new baby, there is often little attention given to the concerns of the new mom. It is normal to be worried about hair loss. Talking with others, especially other mothers who experienced hair loss, can be helpful.

7. Wear a wig or hairpiece for a short time if it helps cope with hair loss. Very rarely, a new mom with extensive hair shedding will ask whether wigs or hair pieces are safe or whether they weigh down the hair and prevent it from breathing. Wearing a wig or hairpiece is completely safe. This can be a helpful camouflaging option for women whose scalp can be seen.

8. Consider cutting the hair shorter. This will give more lift to the hair and weigh it down less. This can help camouflage hair loss to some degree. However, cutting hair won’t make the shedding stop faster or hair grow back quicker.  Shorter hair can also be much easier to manage.

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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