Hair Loss in Babies: What’s Normal and What’s Not
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Every baby is unique, and every child develops differently. However, parents often worry if their children are developing properly. Under normal circumstances, a developing child can still face several problems that could be as severe as infections or as tricky to understand as hair loss.
Hair loss is usually dismissed as a ‘simple’ problem. However, a child’s hair loss, if not natural, can impact the child in numerous ways- especially psychologically. It is essential to understand if the loss of your child’s hair is normal or if there is something else that may need your attention.
Video: Hair Loss in Babies – What’s Normal and What’s Not?
Is Hair Loss in Babies Normal?
In the first six months after birth, a child will lose what is known as birth hair. This is the hair that a baby is born with, and this hair is meant to fall off. Small amounts of hair fall post this period is also considered normal. Just like adults, hair loss to a small extent is to be expected in children.
If the hair fall is excessive and not related to the baby’s birth hair, it might be a cause of concern. This may require medical assistance, but before going to consult your doctor, it is best to evaluate the possible causes of hair loss in your baby.
What Are the Major Causes?
Some of the major causes of hair loss in children are:
- Alopecia areata: One of the reasons for hair fall could be alopecia areata. This condition causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles all over the body. It can cause smooth bald patches throughout the scalp and is known to impact the speed of hair growth.
- The function of the thyroid hormone: Thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism can lead to excessive hair loss.
- Underactivity of the pituitary gland: If your baby’s pituitary gland is under-active, he may have a condition called hypopituitarism which can cause extreme hair loss.
- Trichotillomania: It is a condition observed in slightly older babies where they compulsively pull their hair out. This could be a reason for hair fall.
- Physical damage: Tying your baby’s hair too tightly or other forms of physical damage to their hair could lead to irreversible hair loss.
- Infection: A variant of the ringworm infection called tinea capitis is highly contagious and can cause hair loss, flaky, and itchy scalp and redness on the scalp.
- Hair problems: Lice infestations and the presence of dandruff can cause hair to fall.
Most parents think newborn baby hair fall could be a sign of something more serious. If limited to small amounts, hair loss is expected at any age. Talk to your doctor to get an insight into your baby’s hair loss.
When is It a Serious Problem?
Excessive hair loss could be due to numerous issues. It could indicate nutritional problems, infections like cradle cap, or other medical issues. It is advised that you observe your child closely and talk to your doctor if the hair loss is continuous and excessive.
What Can You Do If Your Infant’s Hair Is Falling Out?
There are numerous ways to combat hair fall, some of which are:
- Using medicated baby shampoos to fight infections.
- Consult a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment
It is a common practice in some cultures around the world to shave off the baby’s birth hair. It is believed that shaving off your baby’s birth hair will help avoid any bald patches. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove the validity of this practice.
What if Your Baby is Completely Bald?
This is extremely common. Many babies are born bald. You can rest easy even if your baby doesn’t grow hair till his first birthday. Each baby has a different cycle of development. Don’t panic about your baby having a bald spot, because unless there are any other symptoms, it is normal. Talk to your doctor if you fear other symptoms exist or if you need further clarifications.
Tips to Prevent Infant Hair Loss
Here are some tips to help you avoid infant hair loss:
- Don’t tie braids that are too tight.
- If your baby has Trichotillomania, consult a child specialist.
- Use a mild shampoo and don’t shampoo your baby’s hair every day as it can dry the scalp.
- Avoid anti-dandruff shampoo unless there is a dandruff problem.
- Avoid combing your baby’s hair more than once every other day.
- Don’t overuse oils.
- Don’t medicate your child unless a doctor prescribes the medication.
- Don’t dry their hair with heat.
- Only use medicated shampoos if a doctor prescribes it and use it only for the time they recommend.
- Put a hat or cap on them if it’s too hot outside.
- Use a soft-bristled hairbrush to comb your baby’s hair.
For more tips and help contact a dermatologist.
When Should You Visit a Doctor?
Under most circumstances, if in the first six months, the only symptom is hair fall, there is no need to see a doctor. However, if your child’s hair continues to fall after the age of 6 months, visit your baby’s paediatrician or a dermatologist. If the hair fall is present with other symptoms like redness, itchiness, ring-like scars, boils, or pain, you must seek medical attention immediately.
It is essential to understand that hair fall could lead to numerous psychological problems in older children. If required, a child psychologist can be consulted to help the child deal with the issue. In infants, hair fall is common, and the best way to put your mind at ease would be speaking to a doctor. Remember that hair fall can be preventable only if the correct action is taken. Reading about hair fall and other conditions can also bring you some peace of mind.