Being a kid is hard enough under normal circumstances, but when hair loss or baldness is an issue, children can suffer psychologically and it will affect how they deal with their family, their friends, and even their teachers.
They know they look different and feel different, and they don’t have a roadmap that tells them how to deal with it. It is important to equip them with knowledge about their situation as well as to empower them with the skills to handle it successfully. As always, it is up to the parent to make things all better.
While each situation is different, there are certain things a parent should address when they have a child has hair loss or baldness. The age of the child is a factor, and it’s important to note that hair loss is more difficult for adolescents and teens than it is for very young children.
Teens already have a lot on their plate without having to deal with yet another thing, especially something that alters the way they look.
There are several common causes of child baldness or hair loss, some treatable, some not; some permanent and some temporary; some have a known cause, and for some, science still has no answer.
Alopecia areata is one of the most common causes of hair loss, both in children and adults. It manifests as bald spots on the head leaving patches of smooth skin. It is not contagious and not medically disabling other than the trauma it brings.
The cause of alopecia is not known and there is no cure, though there is treatment available which will often reduce it to a manageable degree. Most children respond to treatment and will regain hair within one year.
For some, the disease progresses to alopecia totalis, a total loss of hair on the head, and alopecia universalis, complete loss of hair all over the body.
CANCER TREATMENT SIDE EFFECTS
Childhood cancer brings a myriad of issues, and all can be emotionally draining for the entire family. Dealing with the sickness and treatments aside, the possibility of hair loss or baldness for your child is something that should be addressed positively from the beginning.
Various medications and radiation are known to cause hair loss, but once the treatment is finished, the hair usually grows back within several months.
There are many other factors that can cause baldness, including Trichotillomania (the pulling and breaking of hair causing it to fall out), Telogen effluvium (caused by emotional disorders, crash diets, drugs, anemia, childbirth and more), Tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp), and a variety of other causes including nutritional issues and even endocrine problems.
No matter what the cause, dealing with it emotionally is just as important as treating it medically. Speaking truthfully to your child about their condition is the best place to start. They need support and they need options:
- Contact the school and speak to the teacher. It is possible that the teacher can provide a class lesson on the subject. Be aware if academics begin to suffer.
- Other kids who still have hair need to know how to deal with your child’s hair loss too. Contact other parents.
- Present positive examples including other bald kids doing normal things with other kids, and famous bald people, both male and female.
- Note that the trauma will be different for girls than for boys. MGA, maker of Moxie & Bratz dolls has bald male and female dolls in current release. Mattel has also announced future plans for a bald friend of Barbie, complete with wigs, hats and scarves to allow little girls to continue to play dress up.
- Don’t make your child go out and play if they don’t want to. Part of teaching them to accept the situation involves empowering them to be in control. Allow them to make simple choices.
Head coverings are important not only for vanity purposes but for health reasons as well. Most of our body heat is lost through the head and hair protects that. Baldness can make children cold.
It is very likely a wig will be in your child’s future. In preparation, take photos of your child with hair showing their hair style and save a locket for color matching. Wigs are covered by most insurance as “hair prosthetics.” If insurance is not available, there are groups who provide wigs just for this purpose.
Above all, remind your child that they don’t have to wear a wig in order to be beautiful. Just as in other things in life, there is no perfect formula for dealing with child baldness or hair loss.
It will be a learning situation for everyone.
But if you approach it positively, the outcome will be better not only for your child, but for your for your family as well.