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Expert Advice Addresses Hair Loss in Children
While we tend to think of older adults when it comes to hair loss, children are often plagued with the condition as well, despite their young age.
Child hair loss sufferers can gradually develop bald spots or even lose their hair entirely. Parents may panic when they realize their child is losing his or her hair, but it’s important to remain calm.
“It may be difficult for them, but I ask parents not to consult ‘Dr. Google’ on this one,” Elk Grove based dermatologist Dr. Robert Polisky told the Chicago Tribune. “They will be very alarmed looking at some of the more extreme cases they see.”
Hair loss can occur for a number of reasons, from genetics to vitamin deficiency to stress, so it’s important to consult with a dermatologist to determine the cause of hair loss.
Causes of hair loss in children
An autoimmune disorder and the most common form of alopecia, alopecia areata occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles and round patches of hair completely fall out. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, hair grows back completely in 95 out of 100 cases. Traumatic alopecia is caused by constant pulling of the hair from tight braids, barrettes or ponytails.
While hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy treatment for cancer, the hair typically grows back within a few weeks or months of stopping treatment.
Folliculitis occurs when hair follicles become inflamed, sometimes with a deep bacterial infection. The condition can be treated with antibiotics or medicated shampoo.
Polisky comments that while disorders of the type are uncommon, they present as breakable and twisted hairs, often called pili torti.
Thyroid disease, including hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, can cause hair loss.
Telogen effluvium ovvurs when the hair sheds months after a traumatic health event, like very high fever, hospitalization or shock. The condition can cause the hair to go into one phase and shed in a wave, since it is not essential to survival. The hair grows back after a few months.
Also known as “ringworm of the scalp,” tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the hair that takes many forms that lead to hair loss. Polisky says that tinea capitis can look like a large infected oozy area, called a kerion, or it can be flaky and irregular.
Usually shortened to “tric,” this hair loss condition is caused by repeated urges to pull or twist the hair until it breaks off. Symptoms tend to begin before age 17, usually as a result of obsessive compulsive disorder. Trichotillomania can be triggered or made worse by anxiety, depression or a stressful event. Polisky warns that parents are unaware that their child is pulling his or her hair out.
Effect on children
“The emotional impact of hair loss on children varies greatly,” Dr. Lily Uihlein, pediatric dermatologist at Loyola Center for Health in LaGrange Park and Burr Ridge, told the Chicago Tribune. “For some children, hair loss can lead to fear, anxiety, low self-esteem and depression; other children may not [be] bothered by their hair loss.”
Although some kids may not care about the hair loss itself, the way peers treat them can be different. Your child’s doctor might recommend seeing a counselor to deal with his or her feelings, but it’s important to stay positive.
“Some children, particularly younger ones, may not be aware of the hair loss or its cosmetic implications,” Uihlein told the Tribune. “However, children are usually able to sense when their parents are concerned and may become more self-conscious and anxious about their hair loss.”
Want to learn more about hair loss and how to treat it? Please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!