As the summer draws to a close there are, no doubt, many children out there who are anxious about going back to school. However, for those who may be experiencing hair loss, the anxiety is much more acute. Although the condition is relatively uncommon in children, unexplained hair loss does account for an estimated 3% of all pediatric office visits in the United States. Moreover, it can often be difficult to diagnose because it can potentially arise from a variety of different conditions. Fortunately, in most cases, once the underlying cause of a child’s hair loss is understood the problem can be remedied relatively easily. Here are some of the more common causes of children’s hair loss.
Damaging Hair Care Practices
The cause of children’s hair loss that we see most frequently at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research and at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta is traction alopecia, a condition brought about by excessive use of tightly binding hair styles. Elaborate braids, pony tails, and even “man-buns” can place a great deal of strain on the hair follicles. In adults, this stress can cause scarring and inflammation that eventually prevents new hair from growing. Since children’s hair follicles are still developing, and tend to be smaller and more delicate, even a relatively small amount of tension can be enough to cause damage. The hair loss that results from traction alopecia is usually along the frontal hairline or temples, but is usually only temporary. Stopping the use of the damaging hair styles should allow the follicles to resume the natural hair growth cycle. However, in rare cases where the traction hair loss remains unresolved, hair transplantation surgery may be an option provided the patient is a suitable candidate and the parents are agreeable.
Superficial Fungal Infection
Children’s hair loss may also be the result of an underlying medical condition like tinea capitis, also called ringworm of the scalp, a contagious superficial fungal infection of the skin. Common symptoms of tinea capitis include severe itching along with extensive flaking and hair loss in round or oval patches. While it can occur at any age, it most often affects small children and remains one of the most common causes of hair loss in children worldwide. Left untreated, tinea capitis can potentially cause scarring of the scalp that may result in permanent hair loss, but if the condition is caught early it can be effectively treated with anti-fungal medications in our main dermatology center after a proper diagnosis.
A rare disorder where the body’s own immune system attacks the rapidly growing cells at the base of the hair follicles, alopecia areata occurs only in approximately two percent of Americans. However, it often first manifests during childhood, causing hair to shed in one or more small, round, smooth patches on the scalp. Although the underlying causes of alopecia areata are still not entirely understood, it can potentially be treated with a combination of injections, topical medications, light treatments, and even oral medications. Often, only temporary treatment is required, since as many as 75% of cases resolve spontaneously within a year.
Scarring from Accidental Trauma
Every child gets occasional bumps and bruises, but when an accident or surgical procedure causes damage to the scalp it can leave scars behind. Since scar tissue does not contain hair follicles, these injuries can potentially lead to bald spots on the scalp. At The Griffin Center, Dr. Edmond Griffin and Dr. Ashley Curtis have a great deal of experience performing hair transplantation surgery on adult patients as well as younger ones and minimizing the appearance of scars on the head and scalp. This experience gives them unique insight into the issue and they can offer a variety of advanced options for treatment like red light laser therapy of platelet rich plasma.
While these represent some of the more common causes for child hair loss, there are unfortunately many others, and every patient has their own unique health considerations. Only after arriving at a thorough and comprehensive hair loss diagnosis can our hair loss experts design a customized hair restoration plan that will yield optimal results. If you are interested in learning more about hair restoration options, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get the latest news or contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration so that we can schedule an appointment for a full consultation or diagnostic appointment.