Hair Loss in Children
Medical Causes of Hair Loss in Children continued...
Trichotillomania may be triggered by a stressor or anxiety in your child's life at home such as the loss of a grandparent, birth of a sibling, or a divorce or a school stressor. If you notice your child pulling hair, scolding will not likely be helpful. However, counseling to help your child deal with the source of stress or anxiety that triggered the habit may help stop it.
There is another condition called traction alopecia that occurs when braids or pony tail holders are put in too tightly resulting in loss of hair at the hair line. It may present with inflammed follicles at the area of irritation
Telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is a condition in which a sudden or severe stress -- such as extremely high fever, surgery under general anesthesia, the death of a loved one, a severe injury, or the use of certain prescription medications -- interrupts the normal cycle of hair growth. The hair follicles stop growing prematurely and enter a resting phase (called the telogen phase). Between six and 16 weeks later, hair sheds excessively, leading to partial or complete baldness.
There are no conclusive tests to diagnose telogen effluvium; there is also no treatment for it. However, once the stressful event is over, full hair growth usually returns within six months to a year.
Nutritional deficiency. Though less common, hair loss can be a symptom of deficiencies in certain nutrients, including:
- Vitamin H, or biotin, one of the B complex of vitamins, which help the body to convert carbohydrates into glucose to fuel the body.
- Zinc, an essential mineral involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.
In some cases, hair loss can be a symptom of too much vitamin A.
With a healthy, varied diet, most children will not experience nutritional deficiencies that lead to hair loss. However, if you suspect a problem, speak to your child's doctor before giving nutritional supplements.
Endocrine problems. In some children the cause of hair loss is hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid is underactive and is producing an insufficient amount of thyroid hormones required for regulating metabolism.
A diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made by a blood test, and possibly a scan of the thyroid gland. Treatment may involve medication to replace deficient hormones but will depend on a number of factors including:
- Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the disease
- Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the disease
- Your opinion or preference
Nonmedical Causes of Hair Loss
While many causes of hair loss require a doctor's attention, others will resolve on their own with time. These include.
- Newbornhair loss. Many newborns lose their hair during the first few months of life, and baby hair is replaced by permanent hair.
- Rubbing. Between 3 and 6 months of age, many babies have a bald spot resulting from friction with the crib mattress or car seat. Once your child starts sitting up, any lost hair should return.
- Hair abuse. Vigorous brushing or pulling the hair into tight pony tails or braids can cause it to fall out. Being more gentle with the hair will allow it to grow back.
There are many reasons for hair loss in children. If you suspect a medical problem or have any concerns about hair loss, it's important to call your child's pediatrician.