Though losing hair is usually not a threat to health, it may make a person more vulnerable to psychological consequences, especially when it occurs in kids. Yes, children are also prone to hair loss and it can badly affect a young child's vulnerable self-esteem by causing a lot of psychological and emotional stress; not just to the patient, but also to the concerned parents and siblings. Here, we will talk about what causes hair loss in children and how can they cope up with it. Let's start with understanding the hair cycle in children-
Hair cycle in Children
To thoroughly understand hair loss in children, a basic knowledge of normal hair growth is key. The hair cycle usually takes place in four parts: the growth anagen phase, a brief regression catagen phase, the resting telogen phase and finally the shedding exogen phase. Usually, 85–95% of hair are in the anagen phase, which continues approximately for 3 years. Under 1% of hair are in catagen, the transitional phase, which lasts from a few days to weeks. The telogen phase accounts for 5–15% of hair and lasts about 3 months. It ends when the new anagen hair come out from the follicle.
Causes of Hair Loss in Children
There are numerous reasons behind abnormal or excessive hair fall in kids. The following conditions are considered to be the most common causes of hair loss in children:
• Tinea Capitis
The major cause of hair loss in children is an infection known as tinea capitis. This is a contagious fungal infection in which a type of ringworm that attacks the hair and causes scaly, ring-like lesions to appear. The infection usually spreads among school-aged children. Tinea capitis can attack hair of the scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows. The area of hair loss often turns scaly or flaky, and encompass hair that appears to be broken off at the surface. Most cases of this infection are diagnosed by examining the appearance of the scalp. An ultraviolet light may be put into use to confirm the diagnosis.
Tinea capitis is treated with anti-fungal medications and a special shampoo for a few weeks. This condition is generally not contagious while undergoing treatment.
• Telogen Effluvium
Telogen effluvium is a condition in which the hair life cycle is interspersed. Usually, about 10%-15% of the hair on the child's head are in the telogen phase. But in this condition, most or all hair is pushed into the telogen phase. This is followed by partial or full baldness in a few weeks or months. Telogen effluvium can transpire for numerous reasons, including the stress of general anesthesia, extreme fever, injury, vitamin A overdose, side effects of a medication, or emotional stress. Telogen Effluvium is usually diagnosed after a proper examination and medical history.
This condition usually goes away on its own, and kids' hair usually grows back fully within a year.
• Alopecia Areata
In Alopecia areata, patches of kids' hair instantly start falling out in an oval or round pattern. This hair loss is prominent within a matter of a few days, and the bald patterns are smooth and not intense. This condition usually occurs when a child's immune system accidentally attacks his own hair follicles. This condition is pretty rare and affects about 1 in 1,000 children at any given time. There is no particular test for alopecia areata as such and can be diagnosed after an examination of the scalp, and once other conditions are ruled out.
Alopecia areata cannot be cured, however, dermatologists can prescribe certain medications to help increase hair growth.
• Hair Shaft Trauma
Hair shaft trauma or Physical stress to the hair is a common cause of hair loss in children.
Hair shaft trauma can take place due to the constant pulling of the hair. It may include excessive friction- chemical burning to the hair shaft or rubbing of hair against a pillow or tight ponytails.
Once the doctor suspects hair shaft trauma, he will examine and figure out what is causing the issue. Once the cause is identified and treated, hair will start growing again.
• Bacterial Infections
Bacteria exposure can cause a lot of complications like skin tissue infections, and hair loss is one of the many complications. The bacteria leading to this issue is a Staph aureus. Children can become infected with this through an open cut or the respiratory tract. Bacterial infections that cause hair loss can be characterized by scaling.
Coping with Hair Loss in children
If your child is experiencing severe hair loss, then understand that he/she may be going through a lot of psychological and emotional stress. As children have to face kids of their age every day, they might undergo a loss of self-esteem and might also become prone to bullies due to their loss of hair or baldness. Thus, make sure to get an immediate treatment. Do not take the psychological and emotional aspects lightly, acknowledge their emotions, and help them cope with the stress. Remember, with timely treatment and some moral support, your child will be able to live a confident life again.