Alopecia is a disease which causes partial or complete hair loss. Like adults it can also affect children. Children can experience hair loss in patches. Sometimes they might become completely bald. Alopecia can also cause loss of hair throughout the entire body. It is more common amongst children between 5 to 12 years old. Ringworm called tinea capitis is one of the main causes of this disease. Though there are many causes which triggers hair loss in children, alopecia is the most chronic and concerning factor.
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Types of Alopecia in Children:
Alopecia in children is mostly of two types. Firstly, there is the fungus infection caused by the ringworm. Then there is the partial loss of hair on the scalp.
This is a condition where a child suffers hair loss due to ringworm on the scalp. It is a kind of a fungal infection. It can appear in a number of ways. Most common of them is in the form of scaly patches. Broken hair at the surface of the skin is also a sign. Visible black dots on the scalp will be present. Ringworm's are contagious. For that reason do not share your child’s objects like pillow, brushes, hats or hair clippers with others.
The diseases can be treated by means of oral antifungal medication along with antifungal shampoo.
The signs consist of round and oval patches of lost hair on the scalp. The condition is non-contagious. The patches are normally slick and smooth. There would not be any scaling or broken hair visible in this case. About 25% of the children suffering from this disease also experience pitting and ridging of their finger and toe nails.
This normally happens when a child’s immune system attacks the follicles of hair. That is why there is no known cure for this problem. However, many children have shown signs of re-growing the lost hair. There are no proper treatments. But many doctors have suggested ointments and creams.
Causes of Alopecia in Children:
There is more than one cause of alopecia or hair loss in children. There are several factors which contribute to the cause.
Fungal infection is one of the major causes of alopecia in children. The formation of the certain kind of ringworm causes partial or total hair loss. They spread through combs and brushes and pillow cover.
High fever and infection triggers alopecia in kids. Children suffering constantly from viral or bacterial infection can experience hair loss. Hay fever is also another cause of alopecia in kids.
Medication & Chemotherapy
Certain kinds of medication and chemotherapy can be a causing factor of alopecia. Sometimes this kind of baldness is reversible. That is the child regains back the hair, once the medication or the therapy stops.
Diet can be a very critical factor contributing to alopecia in kids. Excess intake of vitamin A, can also be a dangerous sometimes as it might create temporary or permanent baldness for your child.
Emotional stress can be a major factor. Kids undergoing mental pressure can tend to lose more hair and become bald.
Areas of previous surgeries become bald. That is also a cause of alopecia. Children undergoing several surgeries and head injuries tend to have several bald patches on their heads.
If your child has a history of asthma then he/she might suffer from alopecia once they grow-up a bit.
If your child is suffering from eczema there are chances that he/she might end up with alopecia.
Signs and Symptoms of Alopecia:
If your child is less than 6 months old and losing hair, then there is no problem. However, if your child is more than 6 months old, then losing hair can indicate alopecia. These are the typical signs and symptoms of alopecia:
- Clumps of hair coming off whilst combing.
- Oval bald patches appearing on the top of the head.
- Very smooth, exposed bald patch.
- Short, light-colored hair surrounding the bald area.
- Sometimes the bald area is flaky or crusty. (this indicates the presence of ringworms)
- Fingernails might have rows of small dents.
Treatments of Alopecia in Kids:
There are no specific treatments or care. However, sometimes hair comes back after therapy. If the cause of alopecia is fungal infection, then oral-medication might be necessary. The medication needs to be taken for four to eight weeks.
Cure also includes anti-fungal shampoo, two to three times per week, for eight weeks or so. This can decrease the rate of scaling. There are also a wide variety of treatments available for alopecia areata. It suppresses the immune system to combat the disease. However, the side effects of the medication surpass the potential benefits derived from it.
Some of the creams and lotions help to grow hair in the bald patches. But it does not treat the disease. Sometimes bad nutrition causes alopecia. In those cases the doctor prescribes proper diet.
Aromatherapy is considered to be an effective and safe way of treating alopecia in kids. It involves the rubbing of scented oil on the scalp of a child. It is a form of localized therapy. Several oils including lavender and thyme can be used for this purpose. It improves circulation and reduces the amount of stress. On occasions, jojoba or grape seed oil is also massaged into the scalp.
There are certain types of alopecia which can be cured by using antifungal medications. But normally the treatments carry on for a month or so.
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Prevention of all kind of alopecia is not possible. However, some precautions can be taken by teaching your kids, not to share combs and brushes. Combs with wide tooth, with smooth pointed tips will help them prevent the disease. Do not indulge in rough combing and vigorous towel drying. That will make your child lose more hair.
Make them have foods which are rich in vitamin B6 and folic acid. This will provide them the immunity to fight off the bacteria.