What is commonly known as postpartum hair loss has a complicated scientific denomination: postpartum telogen effluvium (PPTE).
Let’s start from the beginning!
The hair growth cycle
Hair follicles are formed during prenatal stage and no new follicles are produced after birth. The hair growth cycle can be divided into three stages: growth phase (anagen), regression phase (catagen), and resting phase (telogen). Anagen phase lasts usually 2-3 years, catagen 2-3 weeks and telogen phase approximately 3 months.
The normal hair cycle replaces each hair on the scalp every 3-5 years, meaning that scalp follicles undergo 10-30 cycles in a lifetime.
What is postpartum telogen effluvium (PPTE)?
PPTE is a condition in which some hair in the anagen phase progresses rapidly to the telogen phase.
Even if it seems like that, PPTE doesn’t cause real hair loss, but hair shedding, where the overall hair density is reduced and the hair becomes thinner.
PPTE usually begins 2 to 5 months after a woman gives birth.
Pregnancy is a period characterized by great hormonal changes (to know more, read here). The increased estrogen level during pregnancy prevents hair loss, which is the reason of the “pregnancy glow”. After delivery, the estrogen level returns to normal, leading to hair shedding and PPTE.
How long does PPTE last?
Good news, everyone! PPTE is temporary and lasts usually 6 months, but many women see their hair back to normal before their child’s first birthday.
Have you experienced PPTE?
Yeon Byeon et al., “Effectiveness of Hair Care Products Containing Placental Growth Factor for the Treatment of Postpartum Telogen Effluvium”, (2017), https://doi.org/10.14730/aaps.2017.23.2.73
Harrison et al., “Telogen effluvium”, (2002), https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2230.2002.01080.x
Mirallas et al., “The Postpartum Telogen Effluvium Fallacy”, (2015), https://doi.org/10.1159/000445385