Changes in Skin, Nails and Hair During and After Pregnancy

Skin Nails Hair Pregnancy

Note: The Pregistry website includes expert reports on more than 2000 medications, 300 diseases, and 150 common exposures during pregnancy and lactation. For the topic Dry Skin, go here. For the topic Hair Loss, go here. These expert reports are free of charge and can be saved and shared.


Changes in skin and nails during pregnancy are very common, as well as changes in hair density and nail strength post pregnancy. Specifically, hair loss and nail breakage are common occurrences during pregnancy and post pregnancy. Vitamins B Complex, C, Zinc, and Biotin can help you correct these problems. Eating a balanced diet and making sure your pregnancy vitamins contain biotin, which is a B-complex vitamin that has been shown to improve nail firmness, hardness, and thickness, also help. Whole foods such as soybeans, mushrooms, peas, avocados, bananas, milk, and whole grains may improve your skin, hair, and nails post pregnancy as well.

Pregnancy Hair Loss- how does it happen and why

Approximately 90% of your hair is growing at any one time, while the other 10% enter a resting phase. Every two to three months, the resting hair falls out and allows new hair to grow in its place. “Telogen effluvium” is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. This is not uncommon, as it affects somewhere between 40 to 50% of women; but it is temporary. During pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase, which is part of the normal hair loss cycle. This condition is not serious enough to cause bald spots or permanent hair loss, and it should begin to diminish within 3-4 months after delivery. If you feel that you are experiencing unusual hair loss while you are pregnant, this may be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

The most common period of hair loss occurs approximately three months after delivery. The rise in hormones during pregnancy keeps you from losing your hair. After delivery, the hormones return to normal levels, which allows the hair to fall out and return to the normal cycle. The normal hair loss that was delayed during pregnancy may fall out all at once. Up to 60% of your hair that is in the growth state may enter into the telogen resting state. Hair loss usually peaks 3-4 months after delivery as your hair follicles rejuvenate themselves. As noted above, this hair loss is temporary, returning to normal within six to twelve months.

During pregnancy, there is an increase in the level of estrogen hormones.  Estrogen causes hair to remain in a growing phase and stimulates the growth of your hair. While you are pregnant, you should expect a full, luxurious head of hair.

In order to avoid any more hair loss you can take several precautions :

  1. Avoid tight braids/ hairstyles as they can pull on already delicate hair fibers.
  2. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  3. Use hair products with biotin
  4. Use fine tooth combs
  5. Use the cool setting on blow dryers
  6. Supplement your diet with Vitamins (Vitamins B Complex, C, Zinc, and Biotin)

Pregnancy Nail breakage- what to do

Pregnancy hormones actually make your nails grow faster, which is a dream come true for some women. For others, nails that grow too quickly can be thin, brittle, and easy-to-break. While continuing your prenatal vitamin may seem the smartest thing to do it is important to keep in mind it is not a forever solution. For the first few months after having a baby—when you may not have time to eat a balanced diet and feel exhausted—taking prenatal vitamins is fine, but long term, they have higher than necessary amounts of certain vitamins and minerals that can cause side effects.

Most importantly, don’t forget to drink enough water, get plenty of sleep, manage your stress, and fill your plate with lots of fresh produce, healthy fats, lean proteins, and fiber—all are key to a healthy body inside and out.

In order to avoid more breakage in your nails:

  1. Don’t bite or pick at your nails.
  2. Keep nails clean and dry, as water makes nails soft, and soft nails break.
  3. Opt for short nails for a while. They’re less likely to snag and break.
  4. Slather a good moisturizing cream onto your nails and cuticles at bedtime- using nail strengthening oil is always a plus.
  5. Don rubber gloves when washing dishes and using household cleaners, the chemicals can weaken your nails.
  6. Push back your cuticles gently, rather than cutting them. Nails will stay stronger and you’ll be less likely to get an infection.
  7. File your nails rather than cut.
Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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