Many cases of Alopecia Areata first develop in children and teenagers. In over 50% of cases, hair loss is evident before the age of 20, with one or more (usually round) bald patches appearing on the scalp.
It is often the case that your child's hairdresser or friends are the first to spot bald patches on their head. Despite developing patchy hair loss, the scalp of someone affected with Alopecia Areata normally appears healthy, although on the patches themselves there may often be mild scaling or redness.
Patches can develop in a number of different ways. Hair may begin to re-grow on one patch even as others continue to develop, or several smaller patches may develop simultaneously, merging to create a larger area of baldness. As the bald patches continue to spread across your child's scalp, total hair loss, known as Alopecia Totalis, may occur. You may also notice that your child's fingernails appear ridged or pitted if they are affected by Alopecia.
Alopecia Areata is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, although it is not entirely clear what causes it. The immune systems of those affected by the condition begin to attack the body's own healthy tissue. Often, the condition can be brought on by extreme stress such as divorce, death, a house move or other changes to family life. Other triggers include medication, viruses or infection. There is also evidence of a genetic link, with around 1 in 4 children with Alopecia Areata having a close relative who has also experienced the condition.
Alopecia can be a recurring condition, particularly if it first surfaces in childhood and in some cases the condition can quickly progress to Alopecia Totalis. If your child is experiencing patchy hair loss or noticeable bald patches, it is vital to make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. (Adults with signs of the condition can make direct contact with a hair loss expert).
Available treatments for those affected by the condition include the application of steroid creams or gels to the scalp, but these may not be recommended for children. Making an appointment to see your GP as soon as you notice the first signs of hair loss can help to rule out any other, more serious causes for your child's hair loss and give you peace of mind.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.