Many new moms see noticeable hair loss a few months after having a baby. This is normal — and not true hair loss. Dermatologists refer to this condition as excessive hair shedding. The excessive shedding is caused by falling estrogen levels.
The good news is that this excessive shedding is temporary, and you do not have to do anything to remedy it. Most women see their hair return to its normal fullness by their child’s first birthday. Many women regain normal fullness even earlier.
Dermatologists’ tips for new mothers
If the excessive hair shedding bothers you, these tips from dermatologists can help until your hair regains its normal fullness.
Use shampoo and conditioner that add volume. Here’s what dermatologists recommend using and avoiding:
- Use a volumizing shampoo. These shampoos tend to contain ingredients like protein that coat the hair, making the hair appear fuller.
- Avoid any shampoo labeled “conditioning shampoo.” These contain heavy conditioners that can weigh down the hair and make it look limp.
- Use a conditioner formulated for fine hair. These contain lighter formulas that will not weigh down hair.
- Use conditioner primarily on the ends of your hair. Applying conditioner to your scalp and all of your hair tends to weigh down hair.
- Avoid conditioners labeled “intensive conditioners.” These are too heavy.
Finding the best shampoo and conditioner for thin hair is really a matter of trial and error. A single ingredient that makes a volumizing shampoo or conditioner for fine hair better than the rest does not exist.
Try a new hairstyle. Some haircuts make hair look fuller. An experienced stylist can tell you what will work for you.
Many new mothers prefer short hair. A short style can make hair look fuller. Short hair also can be easier to manage, which can save time. With a baby, anything that saves time can be a real boon.
Beware of a hair tourniquet
New mothers also should watch out for hair tourniquets. A hair tourniquet forms when a strand of hair falls out and wraps around a baby’s toe, finger, or other body part. A single strand can wrap so tightly that it cuts off circulation or causes an infection.
Don’t panic. The likelihood of your baby getting a hair tourniquet is very rare. Knowing what to do, however, can be helpful.
If you see a shed hair wrapped around your baby finger, toe, or other body part, you must remove it. Here what you should do:
- Look for a loose end and gently unwind the hair.
- Sometimes you will not see a loose end, so you’ll need something to gently cut the hair, such as a small knife or scissors.
- If you cannot remove the hair because it is wound too tightly or enmeshed in your baby’s skin, you need to get medical help. Call your baby’s doctor or take your baby to the emergency room. Sometimes a doctor has to remove a hair tourniquet.
Hair falls out for many reasons
Many new moms experience excessive hair shedding after pregnancy. Hair shedding usually peaks about four months after giving birth. By their child’s first birthday, most women regain their normal hair growth. If your hair does not regain its normal fullness after one year, you may want to see a dermatologist. Something else may be causing your hair to fall out. People lose hair for many reasons, and an accurate diagnosis is essential for effective treatment.
Do you have hair loss or hair shedding?
If you think you may have hair loss, be sure to read this page, which explains the differences between true hair loss and temporary hair shedding.
Hair styling without damage
Making some simple changes to your hair care can help prevent hair breakage that can eventually cause hair loss.
American Academy of Dermatology, “Hair care products can deliver the goods for thinning and textured hair.” News release issued August 5, 2010.