Hair Loss in Children

By Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel

Not only adults but also children can experience hair loss every day. However, unusual hair loss in children can be caused by specific health conditions. It is, in fact, estimated that hair loss in children takes up 3 percent of visits to pediatric office.

Causes of Hair Loss in Children

There are a number of reasons why your child’s hair shed so much or in a way you may notice really abnormal. Here below are conditions that most often cause hair loss in children.

Tinea capitis

Also known as ringworm of the scalp, tinea capitis is a contagious fungal infection which is commonly seen in children. Tinea capitis can present in many forms, but usually as scaly patches of hair loss, which can be round or oval, on the head. The hair can be broken off at the surface of the skin. Tinea capitis can influence the scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows. Most cases of tinea capitis can be diagnosed based on how the scalp looks. Doctors may prescribe antifungal medications, such as griseofulvin, and special shampoo to treat tinea capitis.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is a condition of hair loss, which is not contagious, and believed to be the consequence of the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking the hair follicles. It is distinguished by the round or oval patches of hair loss suddenly appearing on the head. The patches can be smooth or slick, and is not followed by scaling or broken hair. Alopecia areata cannot be cured, but there exist treatments that can put the disease in some children under control. In most cases, hair grows back in a year, even though you cannot predict the regrowth and many children may lose hair again. Around 5 percent of children, the disease develops into alopecia totalis, which causes hair loss on the scalp. Some of these can even progress to alopecia universalis, which can cause hair loss of the entire body.

For younger kids, treatment includes creams applied to the bald areas and strong corticosteroid ointments. Teenagers may tolerate steroid injections into the scalp. You can also combine using minoxidil with steroid treatment.

Hair shaft trauma

Hair loss in children can also result from hair shaft trauma, the physical stress to the hair. Hair shaft trauma occurs when the hair is constantly pulled  (tight ponytails, for instance), because of the excessive friction (hair rubbing against a pillow), or due to chemical burns to the hair shaft. It can also show up in children who have trichotillomania, a mental condition that causes people to obsessively pull out their hair. If your child’s doctor suspects hair shaft trauma, he or she will find out what is the cause of it. Once you have determined the cause of hair shaft trauma and put a stop to it, hair can grow back again. But if hair shaft trauma exists long enough to cause scarring, and hair may not re-grow.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: August 30, 2017 | Last Modified: December 3, 2019

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