CHILDREN AND HAIR LOSS: WHAT CAUSES IT?
Any parent only wants the absolute best for their children, so anything that affects their health is a cause of major concern for you. One of the conditions that cause parents to worry is hair loss in young children. While hair loss pattern at a young age is mostly normal, there are some cases when they lose hair excessively, which makes many parents consider that something is not quite right. In this case, the only way to determine if it is normal or not is by consulting a specialist.
What is normal hair loss and what is not?
In some cases, young children have bald patches appear on their scalp due to excessive hair loss. Some babies are bald post-delivery. This is a rather normal pattern since this encourages their permanent hair to grow. A bald patch may also be visible at the side or back of the child’s scalp due to occasional rubbing, particularly if they lay on a baby seat or mattress for a long period. You can anticipate your baby to grow his or her normal, permanent hair once they know how to sit up and spend more time doing so.
On the other hand abnormal hair loss in children is normally caused by ringworm. You will know that your child’s case isn’t normal if you notice that their hair is shedding dramatically without any apparent reason. They may also grumble about an itchy scalp, and you notice that they’re fussy. You may also see scaling and redness on the bald patch. Additionally, a sign that your child’s hair loss is abnormal is when they have short, bent and lusterless hair strands that are only a few millimeters long. If you notice these signs, then consulting your doctor is the next step.
What Causes Hair Loss in Children?
1. Ringworm or Tinea Capitis
Ringworm is the most common reason why children suffer from excessive hair loss. This is an infectious fungal infection characterized by patchy bald spots that also come with flaky red scales and black dots on the area where the hair strands break down. This fungal infection does not only affect the scalp’s skin, but also the eyelashes and eyebrows. It also has the tendency to attack the hair follicles and shaft.
The condition takes place when a fungus invades hair shaft, causing each strand to break. The patchy bald spot caused by ringworm is usually round in shape. Scaling and mild itching may also occur. Your child may get it when they come in contact with another child who has the condition. They may get infected with ringworm if they share combs, pillows, bath towels, hats, brushes and barrettes with someone who has it. In rare cases, minor bruises affecting the scalp may also let the microscopic fungus, which triggers the infection, enter the area.
Young children between the ages 3 and 10 are more prone to getting the condition. It was also discovered that boys are more prone to having it than girls. While ringworm is not that harmful to children, failing to treat it may cause them to lose huge amounts of hair. There are even those who suffer from swelling in the scalp.
2. Alopecia Areata
This is a non-contagious condition that triggers hair loss when the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Your child most likely has this condition if you notice oval or round patches of hair loss on their scalp. These patches are also often smooth or slick and don’t come with broken or scaling hairs. In more severe cases, hair loss caused by alopecia areata is also accompanied by ridging and pitting of the nails. The good news is that this condition is not life-threatening. In fact, those who have it are actually healthy. It’s not also contagious. It is usually a result of certain foods, psychological stress, hyperactive disorders, and nervousness.
More than 80 percent of those who have Alopecia Areata were also able to grow new hair within a 12-month period. The problem is that the newly grown hairs are temporarily white. The good news is that you can expect each strand to bring back its natural color eventually. There is also a high success rate if you decide to let your child undergo treatment for the condition.
Hair loss brought on by this specific condition is a result of too much rubbing, twisting, plucking, and pulling of the hair. Symptoms of this condition include patchy hair loss, usually found on the side of the patient’s dominant hand, and broken hair strands of various length. One of the major factors that cause the condition is a stressor in the life of a child. Some examples of such stressors are divorce, birth of a sibling, and loss of a loved one.
Avoid scolding your child whenever you notice that they’re pulling their hair. Instead of scolding him or nagging them, try counselling them. This is useful in helping them deal with the stressor that caused them to develop the unwanted habit of rubbing, twisting, plucking, and pulling their hair.
4. Traction Alopecia
Characterized by physical damage affecting the hair, this condition causes the hair to fall out, particularly in girls. It is important to note that the hair is fragile. There are those who do not respond well to chemical and physical substances designed to improve the beauty of each strand. This means that constant teasing, excessive washing, combing and fluffing, hot combing, curling, bleaching, straightening, and blow drying can cause a lot of damage to fragile hair. This triggers the strand to fall out, more specifically in the areas surrounding the hairline, as well as the sides and front.
While this is a rare condition for adults, since the hair tends to improve in quality and strength over the years, it is a common problem for young children whose hair strands are less dense, fairer and thinner. Certain hairstyles also put a lot of tension and pressure to your child’s hair including tight ponytails, permanent waving, barrettes, and braiding. The best way to treat traction alopecia in children is to gently handle the hair. Using natural hairstyles that don’t put each strand into a lot of pressure can also help.
The lost hair tends to grow back eventually. The problem is that the rate of regrowth is often slow. You can’t also expect damaged follicles to heal quickly. You will need to wait for at least three months before your child’s hair will go back to its healthy growing phase.
5. Telogen Effluvium
This condition causes the hairs that are already in their permanent growth phase to go into the resting phase after a child suffers from flu, chronic emotional stress, and high fever. Hair strands often start shedding after 2-4 months of suffering from the condition. This shedding usually lasts for six weeks. Hair loss does not appear in patches; it shows thinning hair all throughout the scalp. You can consult your doctor right after you notice that your child has signs of telogen effluvium. It usually takes around 3-6 months before the hair will re-enter the growth phase. This means that the restoration process is a bit slow.
Your child may lose excessive amounts of hair due to lack of nutrition. Since it is necessary for a growing and developing body to get a good supply of nutrients, lack of them may cause children to deal with certain abnormalities such as excessive hair loss. Your child may be lacking in biotin, which is one of the B-vitamins essential in converting carbohydrates into glucose that fuels the body. They may also need more zinc, which is necessary in various aspects relevant to cellular metabolism. Zinc is also essential in your child’s body because it stimulates normal growth and development, especially during childhood and adolescence.
7. Other Potential Hair Loss Causes in Young Children
Aside from the conditions mentioned above, there are also other factors that contribute to hair loss in young children. Some of these are endocrine or thyroid problems, hair abuse, too much rubbing and bacterial infections. Structural abnormalities affecting the hair shaft can also cause dry, and brittle hair that breaks off easily