Alopecia Areata in Children: Causes & Treatment

5 min read

Our immune system develops every day. It serves as a guardian to fight against viruses and bacteria and ensures that we have good immunity. What if the immune system strikes at the wrong enemy? This is what happens when a child suffers from a condition called Alopecia Areata, which is when the immune system attacks its power erroneously at the hair follicles resulting in hair loss. Let’s discuss Alopecia Areata in children in more detail, along with its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

alopecia areata

What is Alopecia Areata?

As mentioned above, Alopecia Areata is a medical condition in which the immune system attacks the little ones’ hair follicles by mistake, resulting in hair loss in kids. The experts have not yet found the reason for the wrong attack, but the damage is neither profoundly severe nor permanent. Though most hair loss in children is on the scalp, random bald spots in the head or scalp may sometimes affect the hair follicles in the face and other parts of the body.

Alopecia

What are the Different Kinds of Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia in children takes different forms, from mild to severe:

Persistent Patchy Alopecia Areata:

Indicated by continuous hair loss with a patchy scalp for a prolonged period.

Alopecia Totalis:

Affects the entire scalp, and hair loss occurs across the scalp.

Alopecia Universalis:

Hair fall occurs wherever there is hair growth in the body, including pubic hair. It is also known as advanced Alopecia Totalis.

Diffuse Alopecia Areata:

It resembles a normal hair loss phase, where the hair gets thin all over the scalp. It is generally hard to diagnose.

Ophiasis Alopecia:

It is a different kind of Alopecia that affects the lower back and sides of the scalp forming a band pattern. It is a progressive condition and does not respond efficiently to the medications.

How do Children get Alopecia?

Kids can get Alopecia Areata in any of the following ways:

  • Hair Infections
  • Hereditary factors
  • Hair loss disorders
  • Abnormalities in the hair shaft

Let’s look more into the causes of Alopecia Areata in children.

What are the Causes?

Many experts have undergone much research and are not very sure of what causes of Alopecia Areata. However, with the history and trend of the cases among children, the probable Alopecia causes in children may be classified into two types – Medical Causes and Non-medical Causes.

The Medical Causes include the Following:

  • Tinea Capitis commonly known as ringworm of the scalp, it often shows up as patchy scalp and hair loss in the head.
  • Trichotillomania usually occurs when the child pulls, twists, or plucks the hair.
  • Telogen Effluvium occurs when a high fever follows sudden stress or anxiety.
  • Nutritional Deficiency
  • Endocrine problems like thyroid.

bald spot on head

The Non-Medical Causes include the Following:

  • Newborn Hair loss
  • Rubbing the hair
  • Hair Abuse

What are the Signs & Symptoms?

It is imperative to keep our eyes wide open even to the small changes in our kids as parents. When it comes to Alopecia symptoms, don’t forget to look out for the following:

  • Smooth, round and hairless patches on the scalp
  • Skin-colored or peach color patches
  • Sudden hair loss in the entire scalp, sometimes spreading to eyebrows and eyelashes.
  • Small pits in the kid’s nails.

bald spot on scalp

How is it Diagnosed?

A clinically approved dermoscopy diagnoses the Alopecia Areata. It includes the following methods of diagnosis:

  • Testing the hair plucked
  • Examining the skin scrappings
  • Skin Biopsy
  • Blood tests

How is Alopecia Areata Treated?

Hair is one of the easily taken for granted parts of the human body. Many of us take hair fall very quickly and wait for it to grow back. But, it is essential to diagnose the reason for hair fall among kids and treat them early. They may have to undergo the following Alopecia treatments depending upon the type and intensity of the disease. They help to stop Alopecia Areata from spreading.

Topical Minoxidil (Rogaine):

It is a foamy solution used to treat the hair fall issues of male pattern baldness.

alopecia treatment

Steroid Injections:

Taking corticosteroids in the scalp or skin every 4 to 6 weeks.

Topical Steroids:

Anti-inflammatory cream applied directly into the skin or scalp.

Immunotherapy:

Strikes the allergic reaction in the scalp.

Topical Irritants:

A cream is applied directly into the scalp or skin, creating inflammation leaving red and irritated scalp or skin.

Natural Remedies to Cure Alopecia Areata:

  • Applying Onion Juice or Garlic gel on the affected area.
  • Aromatherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Stress Management
  • Slathering some honey on the scalp
  • Applying coconut oil
  • Massaging the hair and scalp with lavender oil

natural remedies for alopecia areata

Can Diet Help Treat Alopecia Areata?

Food is the best medicine when consumed in the right proportion. Following a proper diet is very important to treat Alopecia Areata in children:

  • It is strictly suggested to avoid food that is high in sugar and processed snacks. They might increase inflammation and irritation.
  • Consume fruits and vegetables like broccoli, beets, and blueberries.
  • Consuming nuts and seeds also help reduce inflammation.

What are the Preventive Measures?

We all know “Prevention is better than cure.” But, without knowing the actual cause of the disease, it is undoubtedly challenging to prevent Alopecia Areata in children. There may be several factors associated with it. But the existence of any of the factors discussed in the “Causes” section above does not compulsorily warrant the hair condition. This makes it challenging to prevent. However, you need to ensure that your child is not psychologically stressed about it or being bullied in school.

Is there a Permanent Cure for Alopecia Areata?

The straightforward answer is Yes. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, this is undoubtedly an easily curable disease. There is a high chance of hair regrowth, and so consult your doctor for treatment.

Alopecia Areata is not as scary as the name sounds. Detect early and treat well for a healthy life.

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