Brushing your child’s hair is one of life’s great joys, and everyone expects a young person’s hair to grow longer and thicker with the passing of time. When children unexpectedly lose their hair, it’s normal to worry that something is terribly wrong.
If your child is experiencing hair loss, there are quite a few conditions that could be the cause. Some of these conditions are permanent or genetic, but most can be treated, leading to full restoration of those silky curls and strands, or will go away on their own.
Common reasons for loss
If your child has suffered an emotional or physical trauma, he or she might have telogen effluvium, meaning their hair has simply stopped growing. Since new hair isn’t coming in to replace strands lost in the natural shedding process, baldness might develop in patches or all over the head. This condition will diminish as the child begins to heal and recover from the trauma.
Another common reason is tinea capitis, also known as ringworm of the scalp. Caused by a contagious fungus, it can be passed around by sharing hats or helmets. It’s even possible to catch ringworm from a couch or other upholstered area, such as the play center at a shopping mall. This itchy condition is likely to cause a patch of baldness that’s red and inflamed. Doctors will prescribe medication, such as special shampoo, usually a month-long treatment, and topical ointments that soothe the irritated skin. If your child is affected, everyone in your house should be tested too.
Another reason for childhood hair loss is alopecia areata, a condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Sometimes only a few follicles are affected, so the baldness isn’t noticeable or shows up as a very small patch. Other cases are more dramatic, causing total hair loss on the scalp, eyebrows, and lashes. While there is no cure, the condition will wax and wane throughout life, and there are treatments to stimulate growth. Cortisone creams can decrease inflammation in the follicles and cause the hair to grow again. Your doctor might also try Rogaine, which might be effective in restoring hair over a year’s time.
Other common reasons for childhood hair loss include a variety of treatable bacterial infections. There’s also a condition known as trichotillomania, in which kids pull out their hair as a habit or because of emotional stress. Restoring hair growth, in this case, might require counseling and behavior modification. A similar condition is traction alopecia, where hair falls out because of tight braids, dreadlocks, or another style that pulls tightly on the scalp.
Less common reasons for loss
When common causes are ruled out, doctors look to less common reasons for hair loss in children. Your child might have a thyroid disorder, for example, and require medication that will correct the issue and restore hair growth. Malnutrition can also cause hair loss, but it is unlikely if your child is eating well and has enough calories each day. Lupus, diabetes, anemia, and a genetic tendency toward weak hair are other possibilities, each with its own form of treatment.
If your child is losing hair, don’t panic. Since most reasons are common, treatable, or go away on their own, it’s likely that hair growth will eventually return. Work with your doctor and contact a Transitions Hair Loss studio near you by clicking here.
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