According to research, 90% of your hair grows at any one time while the rest of the 10% hair enters a resting phase. Every few months, the resting hair starts to fall out, allowing new hair to grow in its place (Source).
Telogen effluvium is the excessive hair loss that occurs one to five months after your pregnancy. It affects 40 to 50% of pregnant women, but like most changes around pregnancy, this too is temporary. During your pregnancy, a large number of your hair goes into the resting phase. And, the hair loss usually occurs after delivery. This condition doesn’t cause bald spots or permanent hair loss, and your hair starts to regrow within three to four months after delivery. During pregnancy, your hair grows thicker because it doesn’t shed.
Your hair may become drier than usual because of the high amount of progesterone hormone during pregnancy. It can also make the hair break and crack near the roots. This typically happens in late pregnancy.
Causes of hair loss during pregnancy
There can be several factors causing hair loss during pregnancy. This phenomenon is temporary and only lasts until the baby is born. Hormonal fluctuation and physical changes during pregnancy can also cause your hair to shed.
There are multiple other reasons for hair loss during pregnancy, such as:
1. Poor nutrition
When you are pregnant, your body needs more nutrition. It needs more iron, and insufficient iron intake results in hair loss (Source). Insufficient protein, minerals, and vitamins in your body can also be some contributing factors. Morning sickness and nausea in the first trimester of pregnancy can lead to poor nutrition. Intake of vitamins such as retinol form of vitamin A in abundance can also cause hair loss.
Illnesses like gestational diabetes and ringworm (fungal infection) can also be a contributing factor to hair loss. Certain kinds of medications, such as drugs to treat high blood pressure and antidepressants, can also cause hair loss. If you notice severe hair loss while on medication, consult with your doctor.
3. Hormonal shift
Hair loss can also occur due to the hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy. Hair loss in pregnancy first trimester could occur due to the change in the balance of hormones that happen dramatically to support the growth of the fetus. Stress during the first trimester can put more than 30% of your hair in the telogen or resting phase of the hair life cycle. So, instead of losing the average 100 hairs per day, you may start to lose 300 hairs in a day.
Hair loss caused by hormonal shifts may not occur right away. However, noticeable hair thinning is likely to occur two to four months postpartum. Fortunately, this condition isn’t permanent and shouldn’t last longer than six months.
Genetic background of women is also a contributing factor to their hair loss. If your parents went through the same problem, it is more likely for you to experience the same. Medication can help in dealing with genetically affected hair loss.
5. Thyroid hormones
Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs due to the decline in the production of thyroid hormones in your body. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs due to the sudden rise in the production of thyroid hormones in your body. Thyroid hormones help in maintaining the basal metabolic rate, mental health, digestive system, and the growth of nails and hair.
Out of the two conditions, hypothyroidism is more common among women. Hypothyroidism affects two to three out of 100 pregnant women. Hair loss is one of the many symptoms, which can include constipation, muscle cramps, and exhaustion. One in 20 women may also experience thyroid issues (postpartum thyroiditis) after childbirth. Thyroid conditions are commonly diagnosed with blood tests.
6. Polycystic ovarian syndrome
PCOS is a condition of hormonal imbalance that causes the ovaries to produce excessive amounts of male hormones. Women that are affected by PCOS can experience increased hair growth, but sometimes hair loss can also be noticed.
7. Iron deficiency
Iron deficiency happens due to the shortage of red blood cells. When your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to get oxygen to all the tissues in your body, and to keep the blood flowing, it can lead to hair thinning, as well as fatigue, irregular heartbeat, exertional shortness of breath, and headache.
There is a high risk of iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women, especially if the pregnancies are spaced close together, they are pregnant with multiples, or they experience severe morning sickness. Iron deficiency can be diagnosed with a blood test. Hair loss due to this condition isn’t permanent, but your hair may not return to its normal thickness until hormone or vitamin levels have returned to normal.
8. Skin conditions of Scalp
Skin conditions of the scalp, including allergies, can also be a contributing factor to thinning of hair or hair loss.
9. Reproductive causes
Ceasing the use of birth control contraceptive medications could cause hair loss.
It is important to know the difference between hair thinning and bald patches. If you notice dramatic balding, it may be due to genetic or autoimmune conditions, whether you are pregnant or not.
- Androgenic alopecia (female pattern baldness) is caused because of the shortened growth phase of hair follicles and a lengthened time between hair falling and the regrowth.
- Alopecia areata is a condition that causes patchy hair loss on the scalp or other parts of the body. You may notice unpredictable or cyclical hair loss and regrowth. There is no proper cure for this condition, but certain treatments or medications may help stop hair loss and regrow hair.
How to treat hair loss during pregnancy
There are certain methods that you can follow to reduce hair loss during early pregnancy and have healthier hair during pregnancy, such as:
1. Oil your scalp
If you oil your scalp regularly, it can be very beneficial for the health of your hair. For adequate nourishment, apply oil twice a week before going to sleep. You can also massage your hair and scalp with lukewarm oil once in a while. Coconut oil, almond oil, mustard oil, and olive oil are some of the best nourishing oils to reduce hair loss.
2. Avoid heat styling
Try to go with your natural hair type, instead of blow-drying, straightening, or curling your hair. Be gentle with your hair when it is wet and use a wide-toothed comb to comb or untangle your hair. Heat styling is notorious for damaging hair when overused and not used in conjunction with heat styling protective products.
3. Try meditation and yoga
Stress is one of the many contributing factors to cause hair loss during early pregnancy. It is normal for the mom-to-be feel stress about the pregnancy, delivery, and any possible negative consequences. It is essential for pregnant women to try to stay stress-free. We suggest meditation or yoga for expecting mothers to aid in freeing yourself from stress, worries, or tensions.
4. No wet comb
Some women tend to comb or untangle their hair right after the shower when their hair is still wet. It should be avoided because your hair is wet, the hair follicle is very soft and easy to pluck. Combing your wet hair can cause your hair to fall out. Let your hair dry out naturally and then comb or untangle it. You can also use a towel to pat your hair dry.
5. Avoid chemical products
There is a large number of hair care products available in the market that claim to solve all your hair-related problems, but it is better if you avoid such products when you are pregnant. These products can be harmful to pregnant women as they contain extra, unnecessary chemicals. You should only use mild shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica.
6. Maintain a healthy diet
Eating healthy and nutritious food can also help reduce hair loss. Consuming essential nutrients will encourage hair growth and protect hair follicles. It is recommended to eat vegetables and fruits that contain antioxidants and flavonoids. Make sure to add vitamins C, E, B complex, and Zinc to your diet in moderate amounts. We recommend all pregnant women take a pregnancy multivitamin.
7. Trichotherapy Regime
If your hair loss has gotten extreme despite all your efforts to reduce it, then consult your doctor. Doctors may suggest a trichotherapy regime or another treatment according to your skin condition.
Trichotherapy is a three-step treatment which targets hair loss in a holistic way. The treatment includes scalp nourishing drops, protein spray, and nutritional supplements, which encourage the healthy growth of hair. This helps reduce hair shedding and normalize the hair cycle.
It is important to know that you cannot control hair loss overnight. Most of your hair will return to normal after childbirth. Remain patient if possible. Your body is going through a lot of changes, and it will take some time for it to return to normal.