The female body undergoes numerous transformations during pregnancy and after childbirth. Hair loss is among the frequent changes related to fluctuations in hormone levels. Here are the key points to remember about postpartum hair loss.
Everything you need to know about postpartum hair loss.
Postpartum Hair Loss: What are we talking about?
The postpartum period can be a challenging time for some women's hair. Indeed, it can become brittle, dull, or even fall out in clumps. This hair loss is more or less pronounced depending on the individual and is primarily localized at the front of the scalp, along the hairline. It typically occurs around the second or third month following childbirth, but can also occur a bit later, around the sixth month. Hair loss is a phenomenon that is often temporary and normal, which disappears on its own no later than one year after the end of pregnancy. As hormone levels return to normal, the changes that occurred in the body fade and the hair returns to its original state.
What are the causes of postpartum hair loss?
The exact causes of postpartum hair loss are still poorly understood today because they are under-studied. However, it is accepted that the various hormonal fluctuations occurring in the body during pregnancy are the cause of this hair fall. Thus, the increase in levels ofestrogen and progesterone in pregnant women often results in a slight stimulation of the anagen phase of the hair cycle, which corresponds to the growth phase of the hair. Indeed, it seems that estrogens are capable of binding to certain receptors present in the scalp, which have an affinity for this hormone and induce an acceleration of the anagen phase.
Progesterone, on the other hand, is responsible for theinhibition of the activity of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that modulates the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Now, DHT acts on hair follicles by shortening the lifespan of hair and accelerating hair cycles. Therefore, progesterone has a beneficial effect on hair growth.
After childbirth, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, as do the benefits they provided to the hair. As a result, hair begins to fall out, as if to catch up on the delay accumulated during pregnancy. Indeed, some researchers have noted a slight intensification of the telogen phase after childbirth, the phase corresponding to hair loss. This would thus compensate for the "excessive" hair growth that occurs during pregnancy.
What can be done to limit postpartum hair loss?
While hair loss can be concerning, it's important to keep in mind that this phenomenon is temporary and is not harmful to the hair in the long term. To limit it, it's possible to adopt certain simple habits daily.
Firstly, it is recommended to gently brush your hair, without pulling, to avoid causing additional hair loss. If you tie your hair, it is better to opt for loose hairstyles, so as not to exert too much pressure on the hair fibers.
The application of fortifying serums.
Some cosmetic treatments applied directly to the scalp claim to have strengthening properties and a preventive action against hair loss. They are often formulated withcastor oil (INCI: Ricinus Communis Seed Oil) or biotin, a vitamin. However, scientific literature only grants them limited effectiveness.
The intake of dietary supplements.
Some dietary supplements containing cysteine or biotin are designed to prevent hair loss. A treatment course typically lasts about 3 months. However, it's worth noting that a recent study on the effectiveness of biotin on alopecia concluded that this vitamin was only minimally effective.
EKMEKCI T. & al. The changes in the hair cycle during gestation and the post-partum period. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (2014).
CASTELO-SOCCIO L. & al. A Review of the use of biotin for hair loss. Skin Appendage Disorders (2017).
MECZEKALSKI B. & al. Hormonal effects on hair follicles. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2020).