Hair Loss in Children

Stephanie McIntyre

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While it's not a very common disorder, hair loss does occur in children for various reasons. Often for children, the hair loss will cease without medical attention and the hair will re-grow. But it is still wise in most cases to have a doctor examine the child.

There are a variety of medical conditions that can cause childhood hair loss or alopecia. Here are some of the causes:

Tinea Capsistis - is a fungal infection of the scalp, hair follicles, eyebrows and lashes. The more common name for this condition is ringworm of the scalp. The fungus invades the hair shafts and the hair breaks of at the scalp line, leaving a stubbly look, and a round hairless spot. The skin may also be slightly scaly and there may be mild itching as well. While ringworm is not dangerous, it can occasionally produce swelling in the scalp that's called a kerion that's pus-filled and painful. For this reason, and that it can be highly contagious, and that the hair loss can be considerable, ringworm should always be treated. If it's not, it can sometimes lead to permanent baldness.

Traction alopecia - is hair loss caused by over-stressing of the hair with tight, pulling hairstyles or by overuse of some styling methods. Such hair treatments as straightening, curling, relaxing, dyeing, combing, brushing and blow drying can lead to traction alopecia. Because children tend to have less robust hair than adults, these styling methods can damage their finer, less dense hair, which can lead to hair loss. It makes sense for children (and really for anybody) that hair is handled as gently as possible. Over-anything done to it can potentially cause problems. If hair loss does result from traction alopecia, stop doing whatever is causing it and allow the hair to recover. It may take a few months, but this is preferable to the alternative, which is continued use of the problem causing method and perhaps permanent loss.

Alopecia areata - is another form of hair loss that affects children. It appears as suddenly bald patches on the scalp. There can be just a few of these patches or in some cases the loss of hair on the entire head (alopecia totalis), as hair falls out from the root. This is not a life-threatening disorder though, and the majority of children who develop it grow hair back within a year. The cause is not well understood, but affects mostly those from 5 to 12 years of age. When hair grows back it may come in colored white, but eventually returns to its original color.

Children's trichotillomania - is the compulsive twirling or pulling of the hair, resulting in patches of hair loss. It can be diagnosed by watching your child closely if he or she starts to develop irregular patches of baldness. Trichotillomania may include the pulling of eyebrows and lashes. The hair loss is usually in the form of broken hair of different lengths patchy. This type of loss usually resolves itself.

Telogen effluvium - is another common cause of hair loss in children and results from a number of causes. Hair that is in its growth cycle changes to the resting cycle, after which it will shed. The causes are high fever, emotional stress, flu, medical treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery, too much vitamin A and dieting. The hair may take a few months to begin the growth cycle again, so it may be slow to return.

Hair loss in children will cause alarm in most parents. But most of the conditions are not truly dangerous or life threatening. Nonetheless, in most cases, it makes sense to err on the side of caution and to visit your child's doctor.

Stephanie McIntyre has been a Platinum eBay Powerseller, an eBay Trading Assistant as well as an Educational Assistant trained by eBay. Her company, eSales Unlimited Inc. specializes in training small business owners in using eBay as an additional revenue stream. She maintains a site with information on selling on eBay.


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