Hair Loss Causes and Treatments in Children

If your child is experiencing hair loss, it can be quite alarming. Learn more about the most common causes of hair loss in kids and their treatments with our quick round-up below.

local pediatrician in littleton

Scalp Ringworm

Ringworm is a fairly common fungal infection often seen in kids. It may present as scaly patches of hair loss or as a red ring-shaped rash on the scalp. Hair loss can be caused by damage to the scalp, frequent scratching, and even hair-pulling as kids try to relieve the itch.

Treatment typically includes an oral antifungal medication and an antifungal shampoo containing selenium sulfide or ketoconazole. Since ringworm is contagious, special care should be taken to avoid spreading it to other family members.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that results in the immune system attacking hair follicles. Children may experience bald spots, total baldness, or thinning hair. Alopecia areata can go through cycles of remission and flare-ups.

While there is no cure, treatment can help manage the disease, and regrowth is possible. Corticosteroid creams can help encourage regrowth, as can steroid shots in older children. Rogaine can be used as well.


Trichotillomania is the act of compulsive hair pulling or twirling and is most often caused by anxiety or OCD. It can flare up during times of intense stress or life change such as a divorce or a big move. Hair loss can be patchy, one-sided, and characterized by split-ends and hair of varying lengths.

Treating the underlying emotional cause of the behavior is the best way to prevent hair loss and encourage regrowth. Therapy or medication can help to treat the underlying anxiety or OCD.

Traction Alopecia

Traction Alopecia is hair loss that is caused by recurrent, frequent trauma to the hair and scalp, such as wearing tight hairstyles like braids for long periods of time. The pressure placed on the scalp can cause large bald or thinning spots of hair loss. Treatment consists of wearing hair down in a looser hairstyle and treating the scalp with care. If the scalp becomes infected, antibiotics may be needed.

Telogen Effluvium

Similar to trichotillomania, this cause of hair loss can occur during times of stress or trauma. With telogen effluvium, the hair gets stuck in the “telogen” phase of hair growth, which is the rest period before a hair falls out and is replaced by new hair. Typically, about 10–20% of a person’s hair is in the telogen phase at any given time, but with telogen effluvium, that percentage can grow. Other triggers can include injuries, infection, general anesthesia, medication side effects, or nutritional deficiencies.

There aren’t really any effective treatments for telogen effluvium other than waiting it out or treating the underlying cause. Most of the time, by the time the hair has fallen out at the end of the telogen phase, the triggering event or cause has already passed.

Other Medical Causes

Less common causes of hair loss in children include nutritional deficiencies and endocrine problems such as hypothyroidism. Talk to your child’s doctor if you suspect that one of these medical issues may be the cause of their hair loss.

If you are concerned about your child’s hair loss, give us a call today to help figure out the cause with one of our friendly pediatricians!