Is it normal to loss hair after child birth?

Posted by Dr. Yahya MS on January 04, 2020

After child birth a lot of changes occur to enable the body revert to its nonpregnant state. Hair loss is one of the changes that can negatively impact on the new mom, who is also passing challenges related to child care. 

Hair growth in humans follows through a cycle consisting of a growth phase, regression phase and a resting phase.

On the normal human scalp, only about 10 percent of hairs are in the resting phase at any given time, while about 90 percent are growing and less than 1 percent of the hairs are in regression phase.

About 100-150 hairs on the scalp are shed daily. This normal cycle replaces the hair on the head every 3-5 years. 

what is hair loss after child birth?

Hair loss after child birth medically referred to as postpartum telogen effluvium, is a diffuse nonscarring hair loss which commonly occurs 2-3 months after childbirth. 
It is a normal process and self-limiting over a period of months. The woman may be reassured that her hair growth will return to normal within a few months and that the excess hair lost in the comb or brush will regrow.

During pregnancy the placenta produces significant amount of pregnancy hormones (oestrogen and progesterone). Oestrogen increases the development of hair and causes improvement of hair and skin quality during pregnancy. 

After the removal of the placenta during child birth, the hormones level falls. This causes drop in the pregnancy hormones and this serve as a trigger to the hair loss within months after delivery.

The result is an abnormal shift in hair cycling that leads to the premature shedding of the hair as a result of sudden fall in the pregnancy hormones.

The disorder may have a significant impact on the woman’s mind and would require attention, time, and empathy.

The condition has no predilection for particular race or ethnic group. As a greater percentage of hair begins to undergo the growth phase, more hair falls out with combing and brushing. The loss is in a diffuse, not balding pattern.

The time women loss their hair after child birth is variable and often reaches a peak in the 3rd post-partum month. However, this period may extend up to 6 months in some women.

Excessive hair loss after childbirth must be differentiated from psychogenic hair loss in which the patient seeking advice for hair loss is not necessarily balding. It should also be differentiated from male pattern baldness seen in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Predisposing factors to hair loss after childbirth

Different types of stresses have been related to hair loss after childbirth including
·  Severe febrile illness
·  Emotional stress
·  Major surgery
·  Difficult labour
·  Starvation
·  Excessive bleeding during and after child birth

Nutritional causes
·  Nutritional deficiency
·  Zinc deficiency
·  Lack of iron in the blood

Infections such as
·  Bacterial, viral and fungal infections of the scalp
·  Malaria
·  Typhoid
·  Tuberculosis

Drugs such as
· Combined oral contraceptive pills
·  Some medications for hypertension

Treatment of hair loss after childbirth

- No specific treatment of this condition exists.
- The most important aspect in the management of the condition is educating the woman about natural history of the condition.
- Counselling is the most significant part of the management and should emphasized that this type of hair loss is normal and self-limiting.
- The knowledge that the hair loss will not progress to baldness is comforting to most women.
- Specific causes such as poor diet, iron deficiency, hypothyroidism, or medication use, should be identified and corrected.
- Reduction of stress may help to reduce the condition 
- The woman should be encouraged to style the hair in a way that masks any perceived defects in hair density.
- Drugs that increases hair loss, such as those mentioned above
should be avoided
- Correction of nutritional deficiencies using balanced diet and nutritional supplement may help
- Consultation with dietician can be helpful in case of nutritional defiencies as the cause of the hair loss
- Since this type of hair loss is only temporary and not a balding type, hair transplant is not a recommended treatment.

Since hair grows at the rate of 0.5 to 1 cm a month, appreciable change in the recovery of the hair may take time. Balanced diet and avoidance of stress may in this challenging time.

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