Hair loss in Children: the possible causes
When children lose their hair and bald patches form, both the child and its parents can suffer greatly from anxiety. However, hair loss is not a disease, but a symptom of a problem. Usually, the illness in question not only affects the scalp, but is a holistic problem with the skin or other organs.In this light, when a child is suffering hair loss, a doctor – ideally a pediatric dermatologist – should carry out a thorough examination to find out the root cause. In this blogpost, we have listed the five most common problems that can lead to hair loss in children. However, this post should not be treated as a medical resource – if your child is losing his or her hair, go to a doctor. Children can suffer from various forms of hair loss. The possible causes are numerous, as mentioned above. They can be diseases, genetic, or psychological stress. The following diseases can – under certain circumstances – lie behind a child’s loss of hair.
Tinea capitis – broken hairs and infected skin
This fungal infection of the scalp often occurs in children who are about to go through puberty. However, younger or older children can also suffer from it. The symptoms of tinea capitis are an itchy and red scalp, and sometimes dandruff may form. The hair shaft on the affected area can become fragile.The scalp hair on the affected areas can break off or fall out completely. The disease, which is highly contagious, is treated with an antimycotic – an anti-fungal, often in the form of a cream. It can take up to three months until the infection is completely cured.
Alopecia areata – circular hair loss
Circular hair loss in children is surprisingly common. The typical symptoms of this disease appear almost overnight. They are circular or slightly oval bald patches on the scalp.The causes of this autoimmune disease have not yet been conclusively researched. What happens is is that the body’s immune system suddenly identifies the hair follicles as foreign bodies and attacks them accordingly. This in turn leads to inflammation, which makes the hair fall out. The following types of circular hair loss can occur in children:
- Alopecia Areata Circumscripta – hair loss occurring in circular patches. In addition, eyelashes and eyebrows fall out.
- Alopecia Universalis – complete baldness
- Alopecia areata totalis – the entire body hair falls out
In many children, the hair grows back within a year without medication. Sometimes steroid injections are used to repress the local immune reaction. Alopecia areata can also be hereditary. Most young children affected by circular hair loss are relatively relaxed about the condition. However, this can change very quickly in teenage years.
Psychological causes – e.g. stress
Children can also lose hair due to psychological disorders. For example, children who are frequently exposed to severe stress are often affected by diffuse hair loss.Sustained stress can lead to the patient entering a phase of telogen effluvium. This means that the hair falls out evenly all over the head.This form of hair loss is reversible. When the stress factor is removed, the hair also grows back.However, stress can also manifest itself in various forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, in which children deliberately damage their hair.
Trichotillomania – hair pulling
In trichotillomania, which belongs to the obsessive-compulsive disorders, those affected pull out their own hair. This often happens unconsciously, without the children giving it much thought. The brief pain of the hair pull, the relief afterwards, is a kind of outlet for those affected.The cause is often stress, such school-related fears or the stress of parents’ divorce. Very often, the pulled-out hair is also swallowed. This in turn can lead to other illnesses such as nausea, vomiting, pain, and digestive problems.
In trichotemnomania, children cut their hair but do not tell anyone. The causes are often similar to those of trichotillomania: stress, loss of a loved one or even the divorce in the family. Trichotillomania or Trichotillomania should be dealt with experienced child psychologist or psychiatrist.
Traction alopecia is a special case. It often occurs in children who often wear a strict ponytail or chignon. The constant mechanical pull on the hair can cause it to fall out under certain circumstances. Other causes of traction alopecia are frequent combing, blow-drying too hot or even certain shampoos that have an aggressive effect on the hair roots.
Another reason for hair loss in children can be a poor diet. Both a deficiency and an excess of certain vitamins and minerals can cause the hair to fall out.
What can be done against hair loss – is a hair transplant possible?
As mentioned at the beginning, in most cases hair loss in children disappears all by itself and hair growth goes back to normal. Sometimes, however, this is not the case, mostly when the hair roots have been irreparably damaged. In this case, a hair transplant for young people could be one of the possible cures considering all important precautions. However, before performing this procedure, Dr. Acar will first clarify the causes and perform a very precise hair analysis to see whether reversible causes can be ruled out.