A Korean family who claim their young son’s sudden hair loss was caused by herbal medicine have taken to social media to share their story and, perhaps, warn others of the potential dangers of herbal medicines.
Hair started falling out
According to the Korea Herald, the two-year-old – whose surname is Chang – lost all of the hair on his head and body after taking the herbal medicine for one week. Although the name of the substance is not given, his parents, state the newspaper, say that the medicine was taken to try and get the youngster to sleep.
His mother says that hairloss began after three days of taking the medicine. She is quoted as saying: “The baby’s hair started to fall out extremely easily after that. His hair fell out just from a breeze of wind or from merely walking around.”
The family took the boy to no less than three hospitals after the boy allegedly became “completely bald”, only to be told that chances of a full recovery were about 10 per cent.
It is certainly a bizarre case of hair loss, and one which the makers of the herbal remedy are refusing to take the blame for. They state that the child had other health issues before he started taking their concoction and that other medications might account for his sudden hair fall.
Says Belgravia’s senior hair loss specialist Leonora Doclis: “The photos indicate Alopecia Totalis – or Alopecia Universalis if his body hair fell out as well. If doctors said there is only a 10 per cent chance of a cure, it may mean that the follicles have dropped out – or that something has caused them to scar over. If it is true that the herbal medicine is to blame for stopping his hair growth completely, I have never heard of such a thing with the exception of cancer medicines. We can only hope that his follicles are simply dormant and his hair will regrow.”
Autoimmune hair loss conditions
The Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis that Leonora refers to are very rare forms of the more common (but still hardly commonplace) autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata. This typically manifests itself as sudden, patchy hair loss, and while a bespoke alopecia areata treatment course can help with regrowth in adults, this option is not normally available to children.
What is certainly true is that a “shock” to the body can lead to the type of hair loss seen in cases of Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis. These latter two conditions lead to the loss of all hair on the head – including eyebrows and eyelashes – with Alopecia Universalis causing the whole body to become hair-free, too.
Strange as it sounds, the shock to the system can sometimes be caused by medication. Experts believe that there are a number of “triggers” that bring about the onset of Alopecia Areata and its related conditions, all of them causing the body to attack otherwise healthy cells in the scalp in the mistaken belief that they are enemy cells. Other triggers include stress – both long-term emotional or physical stress and sudden extreme shock – physical trauma and a viral infection.
When children lose their hair it can be extremely distressing, though at just two years old the Korean baby will likely be spared the inquisitive looks of other children for some time. With luck, he may also see the regrowth of his hair; if not, then in the long-term there may be some hope in the shape of promising new treatments that are currently being trialed for people with even the most severe forms of Alopecia Areata.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.