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Hair Loss in Children

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Medical Causes of Hair Loss in Children continued...

For younger children, treatment consists primarily of strong corticosteroid ointments or creams applied to the bald areas. Teenagers, who may be sufficiently motivated to have their hair return, may tolerate steroid injections into the scalp. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is often used in additional to topical steroid treatment. Anthralin applied to the skin for a short time and then washed off may also be used. Hair growth may come back in 8-12 weeks.

Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is hair loss caused by the child pulling, plucking, twisting, or rubbing his or her hair. The hair loss is patchy and characterized by broken hairs of varying length. Patches are typically seen on the side of the child's dominant hand.

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.

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