Most of us expect to experience some degree of hair loss as we get older – much as we might wish otherwise – but if a child’s hair starts falling out in large quantities, it is usually a sign that something is up.

childhood hair lossThat something could be a medical condition, but hair loss in childhood can also be an indicator of emotional strain. Here are some of the most likely causes of hair loss in children.


If a child is having a hard time emotionally, whether that be problems at school or a difficult home life, they can begin to pull out their own hair as a form of self-abuse. If your child is experiencing hair loss, it might be worth checking whether the thinning areas are mainly on the side of the child’s dominant hand (which would indicate she may be pulling the hair out herself), and thinking about whether there are any major stressors in their life at the moment – parental divorce, the birth of a sibling or death of a grandparent are all possible triggers, as is bullying.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is believed to be an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system starts to attack itself. In this case, it is the hair follicles that come under fire. Alopecia areata is usually recognisable because the hair loss happens suddenly, leaving round or oval patches of baldness, which are often very smooth.

There is no cure for alopecia areata, but it can be managed with various treatments – if you suspect your child is suffering from this condition, you should make an appointment to speak to your GP or a hair loss expert.

Tinea capitis

This is a form of ringworm that attacks the hair and causes lesions on the scalp. It is the most common cause of childhood hair loss, as it is a highly contagious fungal infection.

Telogen effluvium

Telogen is the scientific name for the resting phase of the hair’s growth cycle. Telogen effluvium is a medical condition that causes far more of the hairs than usual to be in this phase at the same time – usually only around 10-15% of a child’s hair is in the resting phase at any one time, but if a child is suffering from telogen effluvium then it is possible for all the hairs to be resting at once, leading to a period of total baldness.



By Ian Watson


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