For most of us, we think that it is uncommon for kids to lose their hair at such as an early time in their lives. However, children with hair loss are prevalent and devastating shots of reality. According to the American Hair Loss Association, about 3% of visits to a pediatrician are influenced by the loss of hair.
What causes hair-loss among children? With these causes, what can be done to treat and prevent it from coming back?
Of the common cause is a type of ringworm called tinea capitis. It is a fungal infection that affects not only the scalp, but also the eyebrows and the eyelashes.
Kids with tinea capitis usually exhibit the following:
- Round or oval patches of hair loss
- Broken hairs at the surface
- White or gray bald patches
- Scaly, flaky and inflamed bald patches
Although itchy, contagious and sometimes painful, tinea capitis is easily curable. A culture test must be performed first to confirm the infection before medications by a dermatologist can be administered.
The treatment of tinea capitis can be easily done at home with an oral anti-fungal medicine for two months. Aside from the oral medication, the use of an anti-fungal shampoo is also recommended to inhibit the spread of the fungus.
Minor changes in lifestyle are also recommended by dermatologists to cure tinea capitis. Since it is transmittable, children with tinea capitis are encouraged not to share combs, towels, caps, pillows, blankets, hair ties, and other objects that touch the head with their siblings or classmates.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease where white blood cells protect the body from bacteria by mistakenly attacking hair follicles. Follicles affected by these white blood cells become small and later on slow down or halt the production of hair. Alopecia areata can start from just small patches of loss in the scalp to a total and noticeable hair loss on the entire body.
Although alopecia areata is not contagious, it is an equally problematic cause of the loss of hair as the condition knows no treatment. It is a rare condition and affects 1 in 1,000 children. Also, it is only diagnosed once all other possible causes have been ruled out. This occurs even in healthy children where hair loss in the scalp (alopecia areata) can soon progress to total loss of hair in the body (alopecia universalis).
Dermatologists can prescribe hair re-growth procedures to their young patients, but hair-loss often comes back after one or two years of treatment. Alopecia areata is very unpredictable, thus what may work for one child will not necessarily work on the other. There may be no way to prevent alopecia areata or shampoos and lotions to use to induce hair regrowth, but acupuncture is often a course of treatment recommended by doctors.
As an added measure, patients with alopecia areata are advised to wear sun protection, sunglasses, hats and scarves when stepping outdoors. Since they do not have hair’s protective properties, lifestyle adoptions must be set in place.
Hair shaft trauma
A common cause of loss among children is hair shaft trauma. It happens due to consistent hair pulling. Children who wear tight braids or ponytails are susceptible to this trauma. On the other hand, adults who regularly dye their hair, use hair irons or perming chemicals, use the hair dryer or any form of excessive grooming can suffer from hair shaft trauma too.
A change in lifestyle is prescribed when it comes to the said trauma. Minimize hair grooming and traction to allow follicles to breathe. Discontinue hair drying or straightening and when stepping outdoors, wear a hat to reduce UV exposure. A gentle hair care treatment is the best medical treatment..
An interruption in the hair’s life cycle is called telogen effluvium. Hair follicle growth that lasts for at least 2 years go into a state of regression. If the phase of regression, called the telogen phase, is prolonged, minor hair thinning to complete baldness may occur.
The triggers of telogen effluvium produce a shock or a change in the body that puts more hairs in the telogen phase. These triggers can be surgery, mental stress, diet changes, extreme weight loss, iron deficiency, and an effect of using certain drugs. Among kids, an occurrence of a stressful event in their lives can trigger telogen effluvium. Hair grows back usually after a year.
With hair loss often a result of a lifestyle choice or a psychological event, it is important that parents maintain a proactive approach when it comes to the well-being of their children. The earlier it is detected, the better. After all, the payoff of this situation is emotional – something that medication cannot easily cure.