Hair loss disorders affect children as much as they affect adults. There is information that in faact there are three per cent of children affected by it in the US alone. Whether your child has thinning hair or distinct bald spots, the loss of hair can be frightening. The good news is that, with a proper diagnosis, most cases of hair loss can be treated successfully.
There are many medical causes of hair loss in children and they should be easily determined by a pediatrician or a pediatric dermatologist. These causes are related to children that are 26 months old or older than that.
1. Trichotillomania may be the reason why your child has hair loss. It is a condition caused by the child pulling, plucking, twisting, or rubbing his or her hair. The hair loss occurs in patches and it's characterized by broken hairs of varying length. These patches are typically seen on the side of the child's dominant hand.
2. Tinea capitis is the term used for ringworm of the scalp. It is a fungal infection often seen in children. There are number of ways it can appear, 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.
In the case that there is a reason for the doctor to think that tinea capitis is a reason for child hair loss a microscopic examination can confirm the diagnosis. Treatment usually involves an oral antifungal, used for eight weeks. Also, antifungal shampoo such as selenium sulfide or ketoconazole to decrease shedding of the fungus should be used. Ringworm is contagious, so your child should be careful not to share any objects that touch the head such as hats, pillow cases, hair clippers, or brushes.
3. Alopecia areata is a condition that is not contagious. It is 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.
There are treatments that 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. Some children experience the development of the disease to alopecia totalis, which is loss of all of the hair on the scalp. Some of these will develop alopecia universalis - a total loss of body hair.
Treatment consists primarily of strong corticosteroid ointments or creams applied to the bald areas for younger children. Teenagers 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.
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