Most of us make the faulty assumption that hair loss is a problem which is faced exclusively by adults nearing their middle age. This is not true at all. It is about time that we realize that hair loss is the kind of medical condition that can affect anybody at any phase in their lives. You do not necessarily have to be a 40 year old man carrying a genetic disposition for balding to lose your hair. You also do not have to be a 50 year old woman to go through menopause and hormonal imbalance to notice circular patches on your head. Young adults, adolescents, teenagers and even children can experience hair loss prematurely.
If your little one or a child that you know of is suffering from significant hair loss, then you should unearth the root cause before the hair loss takes a turn for the worse. Hair loss in children can have devastating effects on their self confidence, self esteem and self respect. A balding child can often be the subject of bullying and public humiliation. This is something that no child deserves to go through. The memories of being embarrassed in public about receding hairlines or bald spots is something that will remain engrained in a child’s mind long after he or she has reached adulthood and has come to terms with baldness. This is why it is so important to identify the cause of hair loss in children and adopt a treatment plan accordingly.
Here are the five most common causes of hair loss in children, especially those who are older than 2 years.
1) Tinea Capitis
This is a fungal infection that is commonly referred to as the ringworm of the scalp. Generally, it emerges as scaly patches of hair loss on the scalp. The patches usually have an oval or round shape. Because of this infection, hair shafts can be broken off easily at the surface of the scalp. When the hair shafts are separated from the scalp, they leave behind remnants that resemble black dots. It is worth noting that this scalp infection is contagious. It can be treated with the use of an antifungal shampoo or antifungal oral medication.
2) Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata takes place when the immune system attacks the hair follicles in the scalp or in other regions of the body. As a result of this, the child undergoes partial hair loss. The primary symptom of alopecia areata is the appearance of round patches of hair loss that are accompanied by scaling and broken hairs. Children who suffer from alopecia areata are known to have ridging and pitting of the nails. As of now, a permanent cure for alopecia areata is yet to be discovered. That being said, the disease can be controlled with the aid of proper treatment. In certain worst case scenarios, the alopecia areata can progress to alopecia totalis. When this happens, the child loses all of his or her hair on the scalp. There is even the faint possibility of alopecia areata developing into alopecia universalis. Alopecia universalis is pretty much a “horror case” since the child experiences total loss of body hair.
3) Telogen Effluvium
A lot of research has been done over the years on telogen effluvium which continues to be one of the leading causes of hair loss in both children and adults. Telogen effluvium is a condition where severe or sudden stress disrupts the normal hair growth cycle. There are several “environmental insults” for which telogen effluvium may take place. These are:
●Extremely high fever
●Overdose of medications
● Surgery under General Anaesthesia
Telogen effluvium can lead to partial or complete baldness. Currently, there is no universal treatment for telogen effluvium. The child has to wait for the effects of the “environmental insult” have passed away before expecting restoration of natural hair growth.
4) Nutritional Imbalance
Hair loss can sometimes be an outcome of nutritional deficiencies or nutritional excesses (yes, excessive intake of nutrients can be a bad thing as well). If the child is deficient in Vitamin B, biotin, Vitamin H, Zinc and other minerals, then he or she can go through abnormal hair loss. On the flipside of the coin, consuming excessive quantities of foods that are rich in Vitamin A can lead to hair loss as well.
Defects in the thyroid in the form of hypothyroidism can spell disaster for the health of hair in certain children. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland becomes underactive. As a result of this, there is an inadequate amount of metabolism regulating hormones in the body. This is a problem that needs to be addressed by an expert and experienced paediatrician. Once the child recovers from this endocrine problem, hair loss will stop gradually.