Hair loss in pregnancy – what causes it and is it normal?

Pregnancy affects the entire body, including hair, skin and nails.  Often, there are undesirable changes that can leave a pregnant woman worried or frightened.  However, hair loss in particular is very common during pregnancy and should not cause undue concern.  Hair loss is especially common just after pregnancy.

Hair loss during and after pregnancy can be due to hormonal problems.  An overactive or underactive thyroid can cause hair to fall out.  If this is the case, your physician can treat the hair loss by treating the thyroid disease.  Other hormonal changes that cause hair loss during pregnancy will often resolve themselves as the body returns to pre-pregnancy hormone levels and the normal cycle of hair growth and loss starts again.  Hair loss during pregnancy may also be a sign of a vitamin or mineral deficiency. 

There are a number of things that you can do to have a healthier head of hair and/or reduce the extent of some of the hair loss during pregnancy or after delivery:

-  Consult with your physician to ensure a proper balance of hormones.

-  Avoid pigtails, cornrows, hair weaves, braids and tight hair rollers which can pull and stress your hair.

-  Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which contain flavonoids, many of which are antioxidants that may provide protection for the hair follicles and encourage hair growth.

-  Use shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica.

-  If you need to use blow dryers and other heated hair instruments, try to use the cooler, lower settings.

The hair loss you may experience during pregnancy could worsen over the next four months after delivery, and persist for several more.  You should take comfort in the fact that this hair loss is temporary, and that hair lost is usually replaced within six to twelve months.



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