Hair Loss in Children and Teens
We specialize in hair replacement for children and teens. There are many reasons why children and young people suffer from hair loss. While hair loss in younger populations is far less common than hair loss in grown men and women, nevertheless it causes a significant challenge to children, teens and their families. We understand. We are here to help.
Hair Loss in Children
Hair loss can be caused by injury, burns, scarring and other permanent trauma to the scalp. It can also be caused by medications and medical treatments.
For children with cancer, the loss of hair can be a traumatic event. For teenagers, the loss of hair may be utterly devastating. Although not all rounds of chemotherapy causes the loss or thinning of hair, some instances of radiation can cause permanent hair loss. The hair simply may not grow back in the radiated area. Hair Replacement by Eddie Prichard is an area leader in finding compassionate solutions for young people who experience this challenge.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, “Hair loss in children is a more prevalent occurrence than most people imagine. Currently children’s hair loss is responsible for approximately 3% of all pediatric office visits in this country.
WebMD cites other common causes for hair loss in children:
For the majority of children 26 months or older suffering hair loss, one of the following conditions is the cause. Your child’s pediatrician or a pediatric dermatologist should be able to diagnose these conditions and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Tinea capitis. Tinea capitis, commonly known as ringworm of the scalp, is a fungal infection often seen in children. It can show up in a number of ways, but often as scaly patches of hair loss on the head. The patches are usually round or oval. The hairs may be broken off at the surface of the skin and look like black dots on the scalp.
If your child’s doctor suspects tinea capitis, a microscopic examination can confirm the diagnosis. Treatment usually involves an oral antifungal, such as griseofulvin taken by mouth for eight weeks. Your child should also use an antifungal shampoo such as selenium sulfide or ketoconazole to decrease shedding of the fungus.
Because ringworm is contagious, your child should be careful not to share any objects that touch the head such as hats, pillow cases, hair clippers, or brushes.
Alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is a non-contagious condition of hair loss thought to be caused by the body’s immune system attacking the hair follicles. It is characterized by the sudden appearance of round or oval patches of hair loss. The patches are slick or smooth, without scaling or broken hairs. About 25% of children also have pitting and ridging of the nails.
While there is no cure for alopecia areata, treatment can control the disease in some children. Many have their hair back within a year, although regrowth is unpredictable and many will lose hair again. For about 5% of children the disease progresses to alopecia totalis — loss of all of the hair on the scalp. Some of these will develop alopecia universalis — a total loss of body hair.
For younger children, treatment consists primarily of strong corticosteroid ointments or creams applied to the bald areas. Teenagers, who may be sufficiently motivated to have their hair return, may tolerate steroid injections into the scalp. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is often used in additional to topical steroid treatment. Anthralin applied to the skin for a short time and then washed off may also be used. Hair growth may come back in 8-12 weeks.
Hair Loss in Teens
There are several causes of hair loss in teenagers. It is estimated that between 1-2% of Americans (including teens) suffer with Alopecia Areata. Androgenetic Alopecia — male pattern baldness — affects as many of 2/3rds of all American males, usually 50 or older, but also can affect boys and teens. Likewise, female pattern hair loss may affect older teenaged girls well into their twenties, often presenting as a widening part that makes the scalp more visible.
Traction Alopecia is a cause of thinning and shedding hair, affecting teens who consistently stressing the hair and scalp, whether this be through tight braiding, corn rows, dreadlocks, ponytails, etc.
Trichotillomania is the unconscious pulling or plucking at hair and is not uncommon among teenaged boys and girls. Frequency and intensity may uproot the hair, and over time can damage the follicles.
Prescription medications that treat thyroid disorder and acne have been known to cause hair loss in teens. Even some birth control (contraceptive medicines) may cause hair loss in teens. Poor diet may be a contributing factor in hair loss.
Please see our Services page for more information on options that help children and teens regain a sense of “normalcy.”