Childhood alopecia is a very real issue that is misunderstood by many. Statistics indicate that around three percent of all pediatric visits are related to child hair loss. The most common cause of pediatric hair loss is tinea capitis, which you may have heard described as ringworm of the scalp. This particular type of fungus primarily attacks hair shafts and follicles. If your child has patches of red, inflamed scalp and short pieces of dry hair, it’s likely that he or she may be suffering from tinea capitis. Other types of childhood hair loss include alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, and trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling), as well as hair loss due to trauma. After your doctor properly diagnoses your child, the emotional effects of hair loss may set in. As a parent, you may only see a part of your child’s reactions, since a large portion of their lives are spent at school. Read below to learn about some of the emotional effects of bullying due to hair loss and how families can help support the little ones they love.
Bullying. The National Institute of Health and Human Development report that 16% of children are bullied at school. This percentage only increases when a child has a chronic illness. “We were not overly surprised to learn that children with disabilities are more vulnerable to bullying, because of a lower self-esteem, sometimes differences in appearance or because they have special needs,” said researcher Mariane Sentenac, of University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France. Children with hair loss are prime targets for bullying, which is important for parents to know so that they can decide how they can best help their child during this time.
How to Help. There are many different ways that bullying can impact your child. Children also have a wide variety of ways in which they may respond to bullying. Some children may come home crying whereas others may pretend like nothing is wrong. Regardless of whether your child is asking for your help or not, start a conversation with him or her. Talk about the preferred ways you’d like your child to handle bullies. You may also want to talk to your child about ways in which they can mask their hair loss. Maybe that means bringing your child to the mall and buying a special handkerchief or hat for them to wear to school. If hair loss is a chronic issue or hair re-growth is slow, talk to a trained hair loss professional. Wigs or hair prostheses for children are extremely natural and realistic, are very durable, and help your child maintain their privacy with respect to their hair loss, and thereby eliminate or minimize bullying due to hair loss.
Between the stress of school, navigating the growing-up process, and fitting in with friends, hair loss is the last thing a child wants to deal with. Thankfully for most children and families, pediatric hair loss will resolve itself. However, for many children, hair loss may be a chronic problem. It is also a challenging time for parents, who are doing everything they can to help their child, but are having emotional reactions themselves.
If you’ve had conversations with your child and still feel “stuck,” please consider contacting us. We have helped children with hair loss and theirparents for many years, and we can help you explore the various hair loss and hair replacement options and determine which one will work best for you and your child. All consultations are complimentary, and there is never any pressure to make a purchasing decision. The bottom line is simple: Transitions Hair Loss Centers are here to help.
Sentenac M, et al. Victims of bullying among students with a disability or chronic illness and their peers: a cross-national study between Ireland and France. J Adol Health online, 2010.