In the United States, an estimated 2 million kids suffer from alopecia or hair loss. While 60% of children will outgrow this, it can be devastating for the children that have to live with the symptoms.
There are five general types of hair loss in children, so let’s take a look at the warning signs of each.
1. Alopecia Areata – While it’s not known or understood why this type of hair loss occurs, children who suffer from alopecia areata generally lose circular patches of hair. There’s no scalp redness or irritation, and around 80% of the time hair will grow back completely within a year.
2. Traction Alopecia – Traction alopecia happens due to unfavorable conditions for the hair and is usually found in females who have more rigorous hair care routines and generally wear their hair in tight ponytails or use teasing, bleaching, straightening, curling or other types of damaging hair care processes on a regular basis. Hair generally returns, but is usually slow to grow back.
3. Trichotillomania – Often times due to stress or other types of tension, trichotillomania is when a child consciously or subconsciously pulls out their hair – usually on the head, but sometimes the eyebrows and eyelashes as well. This kind of activity typically takes place during bouts of concentration, for example when a child is watching television, reading, or studying. Monitoring and modifying these behaviors can help curb the problem, and many times this habit stops spontaneously with no other issues.
4. Tinea Capitis – Tinea Capitis is a contagious fungal infection that affects the hair roots and causes hair to break resulting in roundish patches of hair loss. More frequently seen in boys aged 3 to 10, this type of hair loss can be treated and avoided by not sharing combs, brushes, hats, pillows and other products that touch the scalp.
5. Telogen Effluvium – A stress and illness related hair loss, telogen effluvium is relatively harmless and is caused by the sudden shift in hair follicles from the growth phase to the resting phase. Once the emotional stress or illness is over, these hairs will fall out causing hair loss. This usually doesn’t happen in patches and is widespread over the scalp, but the shedding of hairs can last for 6 weeks and take between three and six months to return back to the growth phase.