Another common form of hair loss, postpartum alopecia is caused by hormonal
changes during the course of a pregnancy. The changes cause an alteration in the
growth pattern of the hair follicles. There is usually very little sign of these changes
during the pregnancy itself, but rather a sudden and very excessive loss of hair from
three to nine months after the birth of the child. While this is often very traumatic for
the new mother suffering from the hair loss, the hair's growth cycle typically returns to
normal within a year after the end of the pregnancy.
There is a form of alopecia related to postpartum alopecia called telogen
effluvium [TELL-oh-jen eh-FLU-vee-um], which refers to a condition in which the growth
cycles of the hair follicles have shifted in such a way that abnormal numbers of follicles
move into the telogen (or resting) phase of the growth cycle. The diffuse hair loss
caused by telogen effluvium results in the loss of as many as 400 hairs a day - around
ten times the normal rate of hair loss. The resultant hair loss is often difficult to spot
until about 25 percent of the hair has been lost. Telogen effluvium can be aggravated by stress.
Other Forms of Alopecia:
While androgenic alopecia, alopecia areata, and postpartum alopecia are the
most common causes of hair loss, there are others. These conditions include:
Hypo- and Hyperthyroidism
Vitamin A excess
Severe chronic illnesses
The conditions listed above tend to result in diffuse hair loss (an even loss of
hair from all over the head) and are usually not identifiable as the cause of the hair
loss. For this reason, any time you suspect that you are suffering from any abnormal
hair loss, you should consult your physician for proper and thorough testing of possible
causes and a clear diagnosis of the cause.
Through a wide range of medical testing - including blood-chemistry tests and skin
biopsies - your physician can determine what is causing your condition and offer
treatment options and prognoses based on the findings. You should never attempt to
diagnose the cause of abnormal hair loss on your own unless you are a qualified
medical professional. In some cases, abnormal hair loss can be symptomatic of
conditions that can have serious repercussions if not treated. In other words, remember
that your goal is to cure the problem, not simply treat the symptom.