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Why Is My Baby Losing Hair?

Updated on September 5, 2011

Baby Losing Hair

There are many reasons why babies can begin to lose their hair, the vast majority of which are neither exotic nor harmful and can be treated rapidly and efficiently. Admittedly, if you're sure that a baby isn't simply pulling his hair out (a common habit amongst infants) then you would do well do visit a pediatrician who can correctly diagnose the problem.

This article seeks to present concerned parents a concise list of reasons why your baby is losing hair, along with symptoms and probable diagnosis, but should not substitute professional health-care advice. Chances are it isn't anything particularly worrisome, but there are some conditions that will require prompt attention.

I'll start with common occurrences and work my way down to rarer conditions.

Allopecia areata is easily distinguishable due to its patchy (and occasionally total) hair loss.
Allopecia areata is easily distinguishable due to its patchy (and occasionally total) hair loss.

Types of Allopecia areata

  • One bald spot - Alopecia areata monolocularis
  • Multiple bald spots - Alopecia areata multilocularis
  • Total hair loss - Alopecia areata totalis

Common Reasons

  • Telogen Effluvium - This disorder is characterized by moderate to severe hair loss in children due to the interruption of the normal hair cycle. Telogen Effluvium can be difficult to diagnose because no standard tests apply, and due to the fact that there are many factors which can lead to the disorder appearing. If your child has undergone surgery, is showing signs of emotional stress, is anemic or has had high fevers (this is by no means an exhaustive symptomatic list), there is a chance that you've found a possible culprit.
  • Alopecia Areata (pictured right) - Hair loss can literally appear overnight in sporadic and specific areas of the scalp. The underlying skin will appear to be normal and show no signs of inflammation or irritation. The disorder is not scientifically well understood and therefore there are no wonder-drugs, but the good news is that within a year the disorder should correct itself.
  • Traction Alopecia - This gradual form of hair-loss is not a disorder per se, but a consequence of hair traction (pulling the hair). If you're asking yourself, "why is my baby losing hair?" the answer may simply be a question of fashion! Pigtails, braids, ponytails and dreadlocks can often cause episodes of traction Alopecia, but bear in mind that an infant will spend much of the time rubbing his hair on the ground or crib, which may also lead to hair loss.

Tinea Capitis
Tinea Capitis
  • Tinea Tonsurans - Is a wide-spread disease, particularly in the third world, that is caused by a parasitic ringworm that lives beneath the scalp (there are eight species of Dermatophytes that have been documented to cause Tinea Tonsurans). The disease manifests itself can lead to patches of baldness characterized by redness, itching and scaling. Due to the fact that it is both highly contagious and infectious, it is likely that someone (or pets) who has had contact with the baby is also infected, but may not show any obvious symptoms. Thankfully anti-fungal treatments can efficiently cure the disease.

A typical Trichotillomania scenario due to hair-pulling.
A typical Trichotillomania scenario due to hair-pulling.

Other Problems That Can Cause Hair Loss

  • Cancer - Certain cancers can provoke hair loss, but it is more likely due to the accompanying radiation therapy.
  • Trauma and stress - Both emotional trauma and stress can definitely cause hair loss.
  • Trichotillomania - Is the compulsion to pluck and twirl hair, a behavior that can be difficult to purge and causes hair loss. If you notice an almost obsessive tendency towards hair-pulling that has no apparent cause, you may have your man (figuratively speaking of course).
  • Anemia and Iron Deficiency
  • Lack of vitamin A
  • Androgenic Alopecia - Hereditary hair loss.
  • A dysfunctional thyroid.

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    • thooghun profile image
      Author

      James D. Preston 6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thats a wonderful story Robin! Thanks for sharing your comment.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      A little girl in my daughter's camp this summer had alopecia. The parents brought a book to the camp to read to all of the kids called Princess Alopecia. Once the other children understood what was happening, they didn't have to ask questions of the little girl. I thought it was a great way to educate the kids in her camp class. The parents also sent a letter home to the other parents explaining her condition. I thought they handled the situation perfectly.

    • New 2011 Mom profile image

      New 2011 Mom 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      wow now this is something I never knew about. Thanks for the education LOL

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

      Great info! Some of these I am familiar with but thankfully, have not experienced it first hand with my children. Up and up!

    • thooghun profile image
      Author

      James D. Preston 6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thank you Dexter, I recall reading that during my research although I I did not include it since babies should be free of that particular variant. You never know though! ;)

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      Great hub Thoogun! I have had Alopecia twice and both times were in my goatee (it was stress related). Within 6 months it did clear up on its own.

      Thanks for providing great information!

    • thooghun profile image
      Author

      James D. Preston 6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thank you very much Jeremy! ;)

    • jeremytorres profile image

      jeremytorres 6 years ago

      Great information,thooghun.