Children Living With Alopecia

A diagnosis of childhood alopecia can truly shock parents. . Your first thought may be, “hair loss is for the elderly, not for my child!”  However,  alopecia in children  is a lot more common than you’d think. Alopecia areata affects millions of children of all ages; in fact, 1 out of every 1000 children worldwide has it. Possible causes range from  ringworms, hair pulling, or more serious issues like autoimmune disease, malnutrition, deficiencies, Vitamin A toxicity, or thyroid disorders. 

Treatments for Alopecia for Children

Alopecia is an autoimmune disease, which means there are no cures for it, but a few treatments are available to reduce your child’s hair loss. However, if you go to a pediatrician, they will probably give you strong steroid ointments to put on your child’s spotting scalp. Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable about giving children any steroids of any kind. That said, I highly suggest looking for natural alternatives, including steroid-free ointments. Natural alternatives could include using natural and organic oils that are targeted towards stimulating hair follicles, hair vitamins and meeting with a trichologist, which is a hair loss specialist that focuses on the study of diseases and problems related to the scalp and hair loss.

Emotional Support for Children with Alopecia

Emotional support is crucial for children with alopecia. The disease can wreak havoc on your child’s mental health because it usually develops at the age when your child starts trying to “fit in” with others.  Bullying is still alive and well in current schools, and boy, the internet makes it a whole lot worse. Think back to your middle school or high school years: could you imagine going through school being bullied because of how your hair looked? Your child’s alopecia can be incredibly frustrating, especially when there are no cures, but there are many ways you as a parent can offer support: 

  1. Tell them they are beautiful/handsome: Words go a long way, especially coming from parents. A simple “I love you, you’re so pretty/handsome” can really make their day, so give your little ones a lot of lovin’ because they’ll need it! 
  2. If you want to invest in wigs for your child, have fun with them! Try different colors, different styles, and different lengths! Let them flaunt that wig! Children and teens use their hair to express themselves, so give them the confidence they need. Demonstrate to your child that being able to quickly switch up hairstyles is a perk, not a hassle. 
  3. Some hair loss is permanent, but if your child’s hair loss is temporary, let them know that! Reassure them that their hair will grow back. However, if this is a permanent hair loss, try to discuss it in ways that will minimize their self-consciousness. For example: “Your hair may not grow back, but that means you’ll get a new hat/scarf/hairstyle!”  What kid doesn’t love new things?

Your child’s alopecia diagnosis can shock you, and as a parent living with alopecia, I know it’s tough to deal with. Your child will need your support more than ever to build their confidence and self-worth, but you can help them thrive through alopecia! 

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