Hair Loss in Babies: What’s Normal and What’s Not

Hair Loss in Babies: What's Normal and What's Not

Every baby is different; this is a well-known fact. It is also known that every child develops differently. This, however, also brings us to the dilemma of whether our children are developing properly. Under normal circumstances, a developing child can still face a number of 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. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. A child’s hair loss, if not natural,  can impact the child in numerous ways- especially psychologically. It is important to understand if the loss of your child’s hair is normal or if there is something else that may need your attention.

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 was 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.

The time to become cautious, however, is when the hair fall is not related to their birth hair and is considered excessive. This may require medical assistance. Before going for a medical advice, it is best to evaluate the possible causes of this.

What are the Major Causes

Some of the major causes of hair loss in children are:

  •  Alopecia areata:  One cause for hair fall could be alopecia areata in babies. This condition causes the immune system to attach hair follicles all over the body. This could cause smooth bald patches throughout the scalp and is known to impact the speed of hair growth.                                                                                                                            Alopecia areata
  • Function of the thyroid hormone: Thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism are known to lead to excessive hair loss.
  • Underactivity of the pituitary gland: If your baby’s pituitary gland is under-active they may have a condition called hypopituitarism which is a known cause of 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 irreparable hair loss.
  • Infection: A variant of the ringworm infection which is highly contagious called tinea capitis can cause hair loss, flaky and itchy scalps and redness on the scalp.
  • Hair problems: Lice infestations and presence of dandruff can cause hair 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 for further information and clarity.

When is it a Sign of 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
  • Completing any course of antibiotics your doctor prescribes
  • If your baby sleeps on one side, try making the other side comfortable so they don’t develop a bald spot.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Using shampoos to fight infections

It is a common practice in some cultures around the world to shave off birth-hair. This is down to the belief that shaving off your baby’s birth hair will help avoid any bald patches. There is no scientific evidence to back this up.

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 her first birthday. Each baby has a different cycle of development. Don’t panic about your baby having a bald spot, as, 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
  • Don’t use shampoo all the time, this can dry the scalp
  • Avoid anti-dandruff shampoo unless there is dandruff problem
  • Avoid combing your baby’s hair more than once every other day
  • Don’t overuse oils
  • Wash their hair only once a week
  • Don’t medicate your child unless a doctor prescribes the medication
  • Don’t dry their hair with heat
  • Only use medicated shampoos as instructed by a doctor and only for the time they recommend
  • Put a hat or cap on them if it’s too hot outside                                                                                                                                                                                                          Baby with Dermatologist for hair loss checkup

For more tips and help contact a dermatologist or your paediatrician.

When Should You Visit a Doctor?

Under most circumstances, if the only symptom is hair fall within the first six months 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 nearest consultant. If the hair fall is present with other symptoms like redness, itchiness, ring-like scars, boils or pain then do visit your nearest children’s healthcare specialist.

It is important to understand that hair fall could lead to numerous psychological or image problems in older children. If required, a child psychologist may 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 when concerned. 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. Hair fall does not indicate any fatal condition.

Also Read: Head Lice in a Baby or Child: How to Get Rid of Them?