Hair loss in children counts for approximately 3% of pediatric office visits. Most hair loss in children can be treated successfully but there are several causes and available treatments.
There are medical causes and non medical ones. The majority of kids over 26 months old are the ones who have issues with hair loss. The following are the causes and some of the treatments:
- Tinea Capitis: Commonly known as Ring Worm of the scalp. This is a fungal infection and it is contagious. The treatment usually involves an oral anti-fungal like Griseofulvan and it is given by mouth for about 8 weeks. Use of an anti-fungal shampoo like Selenium Sulfide or Keloconozole is also suggested. Because this condition is contagious, it is wise to take the proper precautions (do not share hair brushes or combs, etc).
- Alopecia Areata: A non-contagious condition caused by the immune system attacking hair follicles. There is no clear cause but many children have their hair back within a year. Sadly, 5% of the children with this disease progress to Alopecia Totalis which involves loss of all hair from the scalp and some of the children develop Alopecia Universalis which means the loss of all the hair on their body. The treatment involves the use of corticosteroid ointments and creams which can be injected into the scalp. Minoxidil (Rogaine) can also be used in addition or Anthralin applied to the skin for a short period of time then washed off may be used.
- Trichotillomania: This condition is caused by the pulling, rubbing or twisting of the hair and can be triggered by stress and anxiety. The treatment usually involves seeing a counselor to get to determine the problem and cause of the stress.
- Telogen Effluviam: This is a condition caused by sudden and extreme stress. It can also be caused by some prescription drugs and it interrupts the normal cycle of the hair growth because the follicles stop growing and enter a resting phase. There have been no conclusive clinical trials or treatments established.
- Nutritional Deficiency: Lack of certain vitamins such as Vitamin B Complex and Zinc.
- Endocrine Problems: Usually as a result of an underactive Thyroid not producing enough hormones. It can be determined via a blood test and treatment depends on age, overall health and medical history of the child.
- Non-Medical: Newborn hair loss via rubbing happens between 3-6 months of age and hair abuse is also a cause which can be caused by vigorous brushing and tight pony tails. Most of the time the hair will grow back.
Hair loss with newborns is common and should not be of concern but if a parent sees any of the above conditions in an older child they should consult with their pediatrician or a dermatologist.