Toddler Hair Fall: Dr Naveen Kini Tells Us Why It Could Be A Sign Of Infection

Toddler Hair Fall: Dr Naveen Kini Tells Us Why It Could Be A Sign Of Infection

10 May 2022 | 6 min Read

Sayani Basu

Author | 216 Articles

Hair fall in kids is common even though its causes might be different. Often, children lose hair because of a scalp disorder. Although some of the causes aren’t life-threatening, losing hair can take a toll on a child’s emotional well-being.

Hairfall in kids is a common complaint in dermatology clinics. According to research, hairfall in toddlers is estimated to account for 3 percent of visits to the dermatology clinics.

Some are mild and easily treatable, but others might require stringent treatment plans. Listed below are  the causes, symptoms and treatment options for hairfall. 

Causes Of Hairfall In Toddlers

Some of the common causes of hairfall in toddlers are:

  1. Hair pulling or twirling: Pulling of hair or stroking can be a habit for infants and toddlers like thumb sucking, sucking on a pacifier, or rubbing a blanket.

It usually stops when kids turn two or three years old. However, some continue pulling their hair until they are three to five years old.

Hair pulling is a type of anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hence, it is important to treat the underlying cause.

Treatment: A child might benefit from therapy, emotional and social support, or medication.

  1. Trichotillomania: Trichotillomania is a more serious condition. Trichotillomania is a condition when a child compulsively pulls out his/ her hair, and feels pleasure, or relief when pulling the hair out.

Treatment: Since these children have noticeable hair loss, they need treatment from a child psychiatrist who specialises in trichotillomania.

  1. Tinea capitis: Tinea capitis is a scalp infection that spreads when kids share personal items such as combs and hats. It’s also known as ringworm of the scalp and is caused by a fungus.

Kids with tinea capitis tend to develop patches of hair loss with black dots where the hair has broken off.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • The skin might turn red, scaly, and bumpy
  • Patches of broken hair

Treatment: A dermatologist can diagnose such a condition after examining your child’s scalp. Usually, doctors prescribe Griseofulvin and Terbinafine Hydrochloride for the treatment of such a combination.

These antifungal medications are taken for up to six weeks coupled with high-fat foods to prevent the development of fungal infections.

  1. Alopecia Areata: Alopecia Areata, a condition which causes hair loss in certain regions of the scalp or all areas of the body, is common in kids and adults. Its origins trace back to family history.

It has patterns in toddlers that are different from that seen in adults. It is non-scarring. This means that the hair follicle is not destroyed and that the hair would regrow. While hair is lost most commonly on the scalp, hair anywhere on the body might also be affected.

Treatment: Radiation therapies such as photo-chemotherapy are effective modes of treatment for such a condition. Steroid injections and corticosteroid creams can also be prescribed.

Besides, rubbing certain medications for hair growth stimulation such as Minoxidil (Rogaine) can be used for treating this infection.

  1. Telogen effluvium: Telogen is the part of the normal hair growth cycle when the hair stops growing. The old hair falls out to allow new ones to grow in.

Studies show only 10 to 15 percent of hair follicles are in this phase at any one time.

Among kids with telogen effluvium, many more hair follicles go into the telogen phase than normal. Instead of losing 100 strands of hair a day like usual, kids tend to lose around 300 strands a day.

Telogen effluvium usually happens after an extreme event like:

  • High fever and surgery
  • Intense emotional trauma
  • Severe injury

Treatment: Its treatment depends on what is triggering the hair fall. Once the stressful period is over, hair follicle growth returns within a period of six months to a full year.

Massaging the scalp with coconut or olive oil can be a great idea as it is mild on the scalp. | Image Source: pexels

  1. Nutritional deficiency: Proper nutrition is essential for a healthy body and a healthy scalp too. When children don’t get enough vitamins, minerals, and protein, their hair can fall out.

Hair loss can also be a sign of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. It can be a side effect of a low-protein vegetarian or vegan diet.

A lack of the following nutrients contribute to hair loss:

  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Amino acids and protein
  • Niacin
  • Biotin (one of the B complex of vitamins)

Too much Vitamin A can also lead to hair loss.

  1. Hypothyroidism: The thyroid is a gland in the neck that releases hormones that help control your body’s metabolism.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid doesn’t make enough of the hormones it needs to function properly. Such a condition can also cause hair loss in children.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Weight gain
  • Dry hair or hair loss all over the scalp
  • Constipation
  • Tiredness

Mums in the BabyChakra community have also raised this question.

Dr. Naveen Kini says, “hairfall to a certain extent is normal in children. It is just that the hair is passing from growth, i.e., anagen phase to resting phase. New hair growth will restart after two to three months. Visit your paediatrician to make sure the child does not have any vitamin deficiency, or fungal infection. Give the child plenty of fruits and vegetables, and see that the child gets adequate sleep”.

Home Remedies for Hair Loss in Toddlers

Here are some tried and tested home remedies for hair loss in toddlers:

  1. You can massage the scalp with coconut or olive oil that is mild on the scalp.
  1. Onion juice can also be a useful home remedy to prevent hair fall.
  1. Aloe vera extract from the plant can be diluted and then applied to the little one’s scalp to reduce itchiness.
  1. You can also apply beetroot juice with a small amount of henna on your child’s scalp.
Aloe vera extract from the plant can be diluted and then applied to the little one’s scalp to reduce itchiness. | Image Source: pexels

According to experts, hair loss on top of the head, during the first six months in babies, is usually replaced by new hair in the next six to twelve months. In fact, paediatricians and dermatologists strongly recommend against any medication to prevent hair loss in infants as it is a natural process.

However, if you have the slightest suspicion about a fungal infection or alopecia in kids, you should consult a doctor.

DISCLAIMER: We have taken steps to check the accuracy of information & practices shared above; however, it is not a replacement for a doctor’s opinion. Please check with either your doctor, or an expert, before trying any suggestion, practice, or medication mentioned here.

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