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Hair Loss: How to Care for Your Child

Hair loss can happen for different reasons, some of which need treatment. Once the cause is found and changes are made, the hair usually grows back over time.

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Hair loss can happen in patches, all over the scalp, or on other parts of the body.

A number of things can lead to hair loss. Wearing very tight braids or ponytails, or styling the hair with chemicals or heat can result in hair breaking or falling out. Sometimes hair loss is caused by certain medicines, a hormone problem, hair pulling, or a ringworm infection.

Kids may lose hair when they're sick or aren't eating right, or after a high fever or stressful event. Hair loss also can happen when the body's immune system sees the hair follicles (the area of skin where hair grows from) as a threat and attacks them.

Some kids have inherited conditions that lead to hair loss. Male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness are thinning of the hair that usually happen in adults but can start in the teen years.

The health care provider looked at your child's scalp and asked questions about your child's hair care routine, hair loss, and general health. The health care provider may have ordered blood tests. Your health care provider may refer your child to a special doctor who focuses on the skin and hair and who may look at a piece of hair or scalp under a microscope.

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  • Follow any instructions that the health care provider gave you about caring for your child's hair and scalp.

  • Use any recommended creams or lotions as directed.

  • Before your child goes outdoors, apply suncreen to any areas of the scalp that could get burned.

  • Some kids like to cover their areas of hair loss with a wig, hair wrap, or hat.

  • Eyebrow makeup is an option for kids who have lost eyebrow hair.

  • The health care provider may need to examine your child's hair at a follow-up appointment, so don't let your child shave the head unless the health care provider says it's OK.

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  • Make any follow-up appointments as directed.

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Your child:

  • Appears depressed.

  • Develops a rash or skin irritation.

  • Develops signs of a skin infection, such as redness, swelling, warmth, tenderness, fever, or discharge.

  • Develops any other new symptoms.

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Some kids who have negative feelings about hair loss might find it helpful to talk with a psychologist or social worker.

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