Postpartum itchy scalp ... it's a thing.
I've said it before and I'll say it here again... Hormones are wild.
So many body and skin changes can occur while we are pregnant: Your freckles can darken, your skin can look more glowy, can't forget the fuller pregnancy hair (it's a personal favorite), and then there's my least liked ...the melasma-moustache.
Yup, Hormones are wild.
Then comes postpartum, or the 4th trimester as my OB refers to it.
*Trigger warning* An unenjoyable new mom side effect:
If you aren't aware by now, postpartum hair loss is to be expected. A majority of women experience it.
Typically around 3 months postpartum you'll notice your hair is looking... more limp; correction -you'll likely notice you're leaving trails of hair before you find yourself analyzing your hairline in the mirror .
Again.. this is expected and can be minimized by postpartum hair vitamins, a shapelier new cut, being gentle on your strands, volumizing shampoos, and a diet focused on iron, protein, and lots of healthy fruits and veggies.
Can't shake the scalp itch:
You may have noticed that your scalp started to itch during pregnancy or postpartum.
With hormone levels raised our scalps become engorged with liquids and this can cause a tingling, painful sensation in the nerve along with severe itchiness.
The American Pregnancy Association released findings that a pregnant women's blood volume increases by up to 50% during pregnancy.
These swelling blood vessels are connected to nerve endings on our head.
If you experienced a sensitive scalp during pregnancy (or after) this could definitely be why.
Greasy + Itchy Scalp
I've never learned more about the oil on my scalp, than after I delivered and started experiencing postpartum hair loss.
You remember my mantra about hormones right? Well, another gift they give us during pregnancy is an increase in the progesterone hormone.
This increase causes more natural oils to be produced by our skin.
Initially I though ok total win because these also cause our skin to look so much brighter in pregnancy.
Beautiful science backing that notion that my glowy pregnancy skin was not just me sweating constantly from carrying both my babies during the summer months.
So while your face has that brightened affect the best skin care still hasn't replicated (thanks to natural oils in the skin), your scalp on the other hand has sebum.
Sebum is the oil produced on our scalps and the increase in hormones can cause it to increase as well.
This can lead to all sorts of problems like postpartum oily scalp and hair (I've written an entire blog about this because it is one of the most disturbing things that happened to me postpartum).
Those with greasy scalps postpartum are also more prone to sensitivities that include itch, and even some pain, as the hair shaft can become plugged.
Unfortunately, greasy scalps can actually promote an overgrowth of yeast on your scalp. This can lead to further skin inflammation, redness, itchiness, and scaliness.
Get Sebum production under control
When sebum production is a bit out of control postpartum a dermatologist will typically recommend trying a ph neutral shampoo, investing in a scalp massager brush (to remove build-up of old skin cells and products), and possibly the most difficult being the simplest ...get your shower in MOM.
Even fresh from a shower I still felt oily with my second son, but the oil can build up even more pretty quickly, so don't avoid it.
Sebum overproduction commonly seen after delivery, can cause greasy hair, thinning hair and eventual hair loss.
Sebum underproduction, equally disturbing, can lead to dry, brittle hair, eventually resulting in hair loss.
What is commonly seen in postpartum is a lack of B vitamins that can lead to oily, greasy hair and that itchy sensitive feeling. If you are breastfeeding this can decrease even more.
Stress is another factor that depletes the body of B vitamins and one of the first things stress does is lead to sebum over production.
Reducing stress and adding back B vitamins for hair (a postpartum hair vitamin works great for this: we recommend the Baby Blues brand one) is one of the best things you can start doing to regulate sebum and your scalp sensitivities.
Scalp sensitivities due to our ever changing postpartum hormones can be uncomfortable.
If your itchiness has led to scalp pain: you may want to avoid tight hairstyles, headbands, and hair dyes for a bit along- with any relaxer treatments like keratin or even heat styling, which might make the sensitivity more pronounced.
Make sure to get a shower in to alleviate oil build up and keep up your hair vitamins particularly those good B vitamins.