While most people think of hair loss, especially alopecia areata, as a disorder that strikes as you get older. Unfortunately, children are not immune to hair loss. In fact, hair loss can be significantly more difficult to deal with for younger children. From teasing at school to health concerns, children bring a whole new set of challenges to dealing with alopecia. How do you help your child deal?
Find The Root Cause – Just like for adults, hair loss in children happens for many different reasons. The most common are ringworm, trichotillomania, and alopecia areata. One of the main reasons for determining the root cause is that the first two causes are treatable, and even alopecia areata in children can be managed. Trichotillomania especially should be monitored, as it can be a symptom of trauma or emotional problems that need to be overcome.
Get Treatment – Unlike adult alopecia, most hair loss in children is treatable, at least temporarily. Ringworm can be knocked out with anti-fungal medication and Trichotillomania (hair loss caused by pulling, twisting, or rubbing hair) can be cured with counseling and behavioral therapy. Alopecia areata is not curable, per se, but can often be managed in children using corticosteroids. In fact, only about 5% of children with alopecia areata go on to develop complete baldness, and many actually manage to regrow lost hair (though the condition does usually progress as children age into adults).
Make It Normal – One of the biggest challenges for dealing with any obvious disorder with children is the threat of picking and teasing. Being seen as “weird” is one of the most traumatic experiences a child can have. Probably the most important aspect of helping your child deal with hair loss is having you make it seem “normal”. Consider shaving your head, or talking to parents of your child’s classmates to see if they would shave their children’s’ heads in support. Make sure to sit your child down and explain to them why their hair is falling out (in an age appropriate way) and that it isn’t anything they did wrong.
Let Them Pick Out A Wig – Hair loss in children can do a lot of damage by stripping away the child’s sense of control. Help them get some of it back by letting them pick out their own wig (or even wigs!) This simple step can go a long way towards helping your children deal with hair loss, and can be a huge confidence booster for them.