It is normal for children to lose some hair everyday but abnormal or excessive hair loss or alopecia can be an alarming symptom for parents to deal with. Fortunately, many common causes of hair loss in children are temporary and can be treated successfully.
Below are some of the most common causes of hair loss in children and their treatments.
Alopecia areata is non-contagious and is thought to be indicative of an autoimmune disorder. Similar to ringworm, alopecia areata may cause hair loss in round or oval patches on a child’s scalp but will not have any redness or scale. While children with alopecia areata generally have their hair back within a year, a small number of children with alopecia areata may develop alopecia totalis (total loss of hair on the scalp) or alopecia universalis (total loss of hair on the body).
Treatments for alopecia areata include steroid injections and topical medications. More serious cases of alopecia totalis and universalis can also be treated with steroids and topical medications but may include additional treatments such as ultraviolet light therapy (PUCA), oral steroids, or oral cyclosporine.
Unlike alopecia areata, traction alopecia is not caused by an autoimmune disorder. Traction alopecia is usually caused when braids or ponytails are tied too tight, causing hair loss at the hair line. Children with traction alopecia may also have inflamed follicles at the area of irritation.
Treatment for traction alopecia can be as simple as changing your child’s hair routine. Try to keep hair down or tied as loosely as possible until hair grows back. You can also use steroid creams or anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling.
Ringworm is a common cause of hair loss in children and one of the easiest to recognize. In addition to hair loss, children with scalp ringworm may have red oval or circular lesions and a scaly, itchy border. Occasionally, scalp ringworm signs will be less subtle, with no scaling or itching and broken hairs instead of total hair loss.
Ringworm can be diagnosed by your pediatrician and is usually treated with an anti-fungal medication and anti-fungal shampoo.
Unfortunately, ringworm is contagious so your child should avoid sharing objects such as hats, hair brushes, or pillows.
Note: Some bacterial infections cause hairless that appears similar to ringworm. Staph aureaus is the most common bacteria.
Telogen effluvium is an interruption of the normal cycle of hair growth caused by sudden or severe emotional or physical stress. Common physical triggers for telogen effluvium are high fever, illness, surgery, or injury while emotional triggers may be more broad and misunderstood.
Children with telogen effluvium may lose hair in clumps over the course of a few weeks or months but this hair loss will eventually stop and the hair will begin to grow again without any treatment.
Emotional stress can also trigger a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder called Trichotillomania. Children with trichotillmania may pull, pluck, twist, or rub hair on the scalp until hair comes out of the follicle.
If you notice your child is exhibiting these behaviors, you should bring them to see a counselor who specializes in Trichotillomania. If you notice your child is suffering from any type of hair loss there are real hair restoration solutions available for children. To find a Transitions Hair Loss Center near you click here.
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