Baby Hair Loss – What, When and Why?

It is completely Normal for babies under 6 months to lose their hair. If your child is over 2 years of age and is experiencing hair loss, this could be due to a medical reason, a life event or even tying hair bands too tightly. This post explains the reasons, timescales and if necessary the treatment in more detail.

Hair loss in the first 6 months

It is completely normal for healthy newborns to lose baby hair in the first 6 months of life. The baby hair falls out before the mature hair grows. There is absolutely nothing to worry about. You will probably notice that this hair loss occurs at the back of your child’s head where he is in contact with the mattress when sleeping, if your child has developed a habit of banging or rubbing his head on furniture, hair loss may also be more prominent in those areas. This still is completely normal and nothing to worry about. Hair grows at varying rates so don’t be worried or surprised if you little one has some bald patches. In some very rare cases, babies are born with alopecia, this can be a medical condition on its own or as part of a medical condition also affecting teeth and nails. If you are concerned about your child’s hair loss, speak to a medical professional.

Hair loss after 24 months

If you notice your child losing hair after around 24-26 months, it is likely to be due to one of the following reasons/conditions:

  • Tinea capitis – This is often explained to parents as being ring worm on the scalp. It is a fungal infection and often results in round or oval scaly patches of hair loss. If you suspect your child has tinea capitis, you should contact your GP who will arrange for further testing, this usually involves a microscopic examination. It is treated with an anti fungal medication, you may also be advised to use an anti fungal shampoo. Ringworm is infectious so you need to be sure your child doesn’t share any objects/items that are in contact with her head such as pillows and hats etc.
  • Alopecia areata – This is a non-contagious condition and is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the hair follicles. It often results in round or oval shaped hair loss but unlike tinea capitis, it is smooth rather than scaly. There is currently no known cure for this but treatment can result in hair growth after around 12 months. Unfortunately, this means it is also likely to return at a later date.
  • Trichotillomania – This is usually caused by stressful life events such as a bereavement, divorce, moving home or even birth of a sibling. Your child may be pulling his/her own hair as a result if this stress. Counselling and therapy are recommended for this.
  • Traction alopecia – This is caused by wearing hair bands or ribbons too tightly. Hair will grow again once you stop doing this.
  • Telogen effluvium – This is where the hair follicles stop growing prematurely due to a stressful event or medication/surgery. It takes approximately 26 weeks for this to become visible through hair loss and around 12 months to grow back once the stressful event is over.
  • Nutritional deficiency – this is very uncommon but hairless can be due to a deficiency in essential vitamins/nutrients such as vitamin H or Zinc. If you suspect fair loss due to nutritional deficiency, speak to your GP first before deciding whether to give any supplements.
  • Hypothyroidism – An under active thyroid can result in hair loss. This is due to the thyroid not regulating a sufficient amount of metabolism. Diagnosis is made through blood tests and possibly a scan a medication options discussed which will vary from child to child depending on age, general health, extent of the disease and other factors.
  • Resources: AAP


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