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Causes of Hair Loss in Babies and Children

Child with alopeciaWhile hair loss in babies and children may be perceived as a cause for concern, hair loss in children can be mostly natural – in young children, as many as 50-100 hair strands can fall out per day. Patchy hair loss of this nature, which results from natural growth and causes, usually ensures that the child’s hair is likely to return again fairly quickly.

However, despite the natural causes of hair loss in babies and children, some forms of hairloss can belie a medical or more prolonged condition.

Hair growth in childhood

Hair in babies can vary extensively. While one baby may be born with a full head of hair, another may seem almost bald at birth. Both of these extremes are perfectly normal, including all variations in between. A baby’s hair often falls out after three months, after which a second crop of hair replaces the first. Sometimes, this process may be gradual; for other babies, the gap between the growth of the two crops may be more pronounced, perhaps causing parents to worry. As long as the scalp looks healthy, then it’s most likely that nothing is amiss.

The child will eventually grow a full head of hair – like an adult’s head, each child’s head will hold around 100,000 hairs. Every individual hair grows for three years at a rate of roughly half a millimetre a day, before dropping out and being replaced by a new strand.

A child’s hair can often look sparse up until around the age of three, for the hair to then thicken up in the next few years. Most children who seem to have relatively little hair in their first years do develop a normal head of hair.

Hair loss conditions in infants

Despite cases of natural hair loss in infants, some instances of hair loss in childhood can hint at a more pressing problem with hair growth:

  • Tinea Capitis, also known as scalp ringworm, is the most common cause of hair loss in children according to the American Hair Loss Association. The condition is caused by a fungus that attacks the hair shaft and breaks the hairs, causing patchy hair loss. The complaint can be contracted from other children.
  • Alopecia Areata is characterised by a circular, bald patch on the scalp. The condition is not harmful, but the complaint can possibly lead to full hairloss on the scalp. There is no approved hair loss treatment for Alopecia Areata in children, however 80% of infant sufferers will grow their hair back within a year.
  • Trichotillomania results from the child twisting its hair, resulting in pressure on the follicles that creates uneven bald patches. The condition may be perhaps related to the child incurring stress. Hair should grow back once the pressure is removed, provided the hair follicles are not scarred.

Other possible complaints include Traction Alopecia, Telogen Effluvium and Loose Anagen Syndrome.

If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from one of these hair loss conditions, the Belgravia Centre recommends you make an appointment with your GP so they can diagnose the condition and find any possible underlying conditions that might be causing the problem.

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