When you think of hair loss, you imagine an older male or female. Unfortunately, hair loss isn’t something that only adults or the elderly experience. Even children can lose their hair in tufts.
The situation is rather alarming, especially for a child who doesn’t understand what is happening to them and why. More worrying is the fact that although we normally lose hair as we age, hair loss is not normal among children.
There are many reasons why hair loss in children occurs. Some of them are very common. However, there are some causes of hair loss that are more worrisome.
No matter how old you are, losing your hair is distressing. For a child who’s learning to grow in their skin while learning the way the body functions, premature hair loss can be stressful.
Hair loss in grownups can make them feel self-conscious. They fear that someone might point it out in front of others and embarrass them about it. The same thing can happen with children; it can easily overwhelm them.
That is why if you notice hair loss in children, you should act immediately. In this guide, you can learn about the different causes of hair loss in children so that you have an idea of what’s happening with your child.
Is Hair Loss in Children Common?
In some cases, yes, it is normal. At birth, many babies don’t have hair on their heads. If they do, it is usually thin and sparsely dispersed on the scalp.
If the baby is born with hair, s/he will probably start losing this hair after some time. However, it eventually grows back thicker and denser than before.
Many newborn babies don’t have hair on the back or sides of their heads. That happens because they are usually lying down and constantly rubbing their heads on the sheeting, which results in hair loss. This is easier at their age because their hair is already very weak. So, it isn’t true that children who’re growing up don’t lose their hair at all.
It is normal to lose a few strands of hair every day. However, hair shedding that is more than usual is a cause for concern. If your child has suffered from a scalp injury, for instance, then you can expect them to lose hair in the area and the surrounding region.
Illness and medications can also make them lose their hair. However, this type of hair loss is temporary and would only last for a few months. After this, your child should start re-growing their hair.
What Can Cause Hair Loss In A Child?
Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why hair in children occurs.
A fungal infection of the scalp, tinea capitis, is a type of ringworm. It results in the formation of bald patches on the scalp. It can also cause itchiness and redness in the area. It is one reason behind hair loss in children.
If your child has tinea capitis, they will notice round or oval-shaped bald patches on their scalp. It can very easily spread among school children since it is contagious. Sharing hats, brushes, hair accessories with other children can pass the infection onto them.
Tinea capitis doesn’t only affect the skin of the scalp but also hair in other regions such as eyelashes and eyebrows. You might notice that the hair around the bald patch is dull and bent.
Moreover, in tinea capitis, hair can break off at the surface of the scalp, so the root remains intact. This can result in the appearance of small black dots in the bald area.
It is important that if you notice similar shedding on your child’s scalp, you immediately take them to the doctor. They might diagnose it by the appearance, use a UV light or do a microscopic examination.
The usual treatment of tinea capitis involves the intake of oral antifungal medicine along with the use of antifungal shampoo. The treatment can last for 2 months.
If you’re wondering why my son’s hair is falling out or why my daughter is losing her hair, alopecia areata might be the reason.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. In it, the child’s immune system starts attacking their own body, in this case, the hair follicles. This results in the formation of round or oval-shaped bald patches on the scalp of the child; these patches have a smooth appearance.
In alopecia areata, there is no scaling, redness, or itchiness. Moreover, the hair is not broken off the surface, so there are no black dots in the bald area.
Children can grow their hair back if they have alopecia areata, but it is not known when alopecia areata can make them lose their hair again. Topical corticosteroids are used for treating alopecia areata.
If hair loss in children affects the entire scalp due to alopecia areata, it is a condition known as alopecia totalis. A child may also lose all the hair on their body, a condition known as alopecia universalis.
There is no permanent treatment available for alopecia areata. Doctors can prescribe different treatments that help promote hair growth. The dermatologist will check the scalp of your child and rule out other possible causes to determine if the hair loss is due to alopecia areata. The condition is rare but quite problematic for those suffering from it.
It is a condition in which a child has a compulsive urge to pluck, pull or twist their hair. The child may pull hair from different parts of their body, including the scalp, such as eyebrows, eyelashes and facial hair.
It results in the formation of irregular patches that have hair growing of varying lengths. On the scalp, you’ll usually notice the hair on the front or side of the scalp along the hairline.
There are many causes of trichotillomania. A child may feel like pulling their hair out when they’re anxious or stressed. The child needs to be counselled so that the reason why they’re pulling their hair out is understood and resolved.
It is also possible that a child has an irresistible urge to pull their hair out “just because”, or they may feel bored. Some pluck their hair without even realizing that they’re doing so.
With children, it is also possible that they end up eating their hair, which will remain undigested in their stomachs. If you notice your child exhibiting similar behaviour, you should get them treated. Therapy may be needed for the treatment of this kind of hair loss in children.
Children indeed like to experiment with their hair just as much as adults. The thrill of trying a new hairstyle, pulling it off and showing it to the rest of the world means much to a child. However, in doing so, they might end up damaging their hair.
Tight, high ponytails, braids, and cornrows can pull too tightly on the hair. It can even pluck the hair right out of the root. The child might also end up with an aching scalp if the hairstyle is too tight.
Traction alopecia results in hair loss in children because of the strong pull on the hair due to tight hairstyles. So, keep an eye out for those.
This is the kind of hair loss that can happen as a result of a stressful event, which includes sickness, injury, surgery, or medications. In this, the normal growth cycle of the hair is interrupted.
The hair enters the resting phase, which results in excessive hair loss after 2-4 months. The condition can even cause complete baldness. However, you can grow your back after the stressful event is over. Although complete hair regrowth might take a year.
Trauma Hair Loss
This type of hair loss in children occurs as a result of burns or scars that result in the death of the hair roots. Once the roots of the hair die, they won’t lead to the growth of new hair. This kind of hair loss in children is permanent.
How To Treat Hair Loss in Children?
If your 4-year-old’s hair loss is worrying you, you should not wait. It can end up worsening the condition. Immediately take your child to a doctor. The doctor will make a diagnosis to determine the root cause of hair loss.
A child may be losing his/her hair due to a problem in the endocrine system. Nutritional deficiencies can also result in hair loss. If the latter’s the case, the doctor might suggest giving supplements and vitamins to the child. Treatments are suggested based on the cause of hair loss.
Is It Possible for a Child to Have Hair Transplants?
A hair transplant is a cosmetic procedure. A person is not legally considered an adult before the age of 18. So, if the child is younger than 18, we need to have consent from the child’s parents or legal guardians to perform a hair transplant. Otherwise, the surgery cannot take place.
If your child is excessively losing their hair, you should get in touch with a professional doctor for a diagnosis. Depending on the cause of hair loss, the doctor will provide a treatment plan. Remember, hair loss is not something that only happens to adults. Hair loss in children can also occur.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.