children and hair lossCoping with hair loss is difficult enough for an adult to deal with, but for a child it can be really scary and confusing. There are a number of things that could be causing the hair loss and it’s important to identify the cause before attempting to treat the problem. Here you’ll find out more about the major causes of hair loss in children and ways to help them cope.

What are the main causes of child hair loss?

Hair loss is typically associated with cancer, but it’s actually a very common symptom of a few different conditions. These include:

  • Alopecia Areata
  • Tinea Capitis
  • Trichotillomania

If you notice your child has smooth, round or oval patches of hair loss, it could be a symptom of Alopecia Areata. This condition develops when the immune system starts to attack the follicles of the hair. Ridging or pitting of the nails is another symptom commonly experienced with this condition. There currently isn’t a cure for this type of hair loss, but there are treatments available that can help encourage the hair to grow back.

If the hair loss leaves behind scaly patches, it is more likely to be Tinea Capitis. This is otherwise known as Ringworm and it’s a contagious condition that could be shared via pillows, brushes and hats.

Finally, Trichotillomania is caused by hair pulling, twisting or plucking. There will be a lot of broken hairs around the hair loss and feature heavily on your child’s dominant hand side. This is more of a psychological condition.

How to help your child cope with hair loss?

Getting the right diagnosis and medical treatment for your child’s hair loss will solve the physical problems. But what about the emotional ones? Hair is often linked to identity and in a society which places so much emphasis on looking a certain way, the loss of hair can be emotionally devastating for a child.

The main thing is to focus on building their self-esteem. You should also contact the school to let them know about the issue. That way, your child’s teachers will understand any changes in behaviour and they may also teach a class on hair loss and its causes, helping to educate the other children.

It is also recommended you join a support group. These provide support for both the child and parents. They also often arrange get-togethers, where your child can meet and socialise with others.

Overall hair loss can be traumatic for children so it’s important to talk to them about the condition and try to build up their self-esteem. In extreme cases a child psychologist can help your child to adjust to the changes and address any emotional problems they are going through as a result of the hair loss.

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By Ian Watson

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