The Science Behind Hair Loss In Babies
I’m making assumptions here:
You’re reading this because your little one has bald spots and would like to know if hair loss in babies is perfectly normal. Also, you could also be curious about what is really happening when hair loss occurs.
I’ve been there.
The people around me were telling me that it is normal for babies to lose hair, but curiosity got the best of me.
So I did what any inquisitive mom would do--research! And what I found out is what I am sharing with you.
A word of caution though:
I am no medical expert. Everything you see here is based on research found in published journals. The qualification I can be proud of is my degree in research.
Moving on, here is what I found out.
Each Person Has a Hair Cycle
Yes, even us adults experience hair loss or alopecia. It’s just not that obvious. Perhaps the only time it is visible is when you’re a man, and you reached the age of balding or you’re a mom who has just given birth.
You see, our hair follicles have a cycle. There’s the phase for hair growth called anagen, a phase for involution called catagen, a phase for dormancy called telogen, and a phase for release called exogen.
In other words, our hair grows (anagen), then it undergoes a process of transformation (catagen), stays in the transformed stage for some time (telogen), then is released (exogen). This normal shedding of hair is also referred to as telogen effluvium.
This process may not happen at the same time in all follicles; hence, the bald spots. It is just more obvious in babies because they have thin hair. So when they are in the exogen process, bald spots are more obvious.
If you would look at it closely, though, you will see fine, soft hair also called as down.
This cycle happens about 10 to 30 times in our entire life; thus, we may have new sets of hair every three to five years.
Also, you may notice that your little angel’s hair is different from what you expect. You will see the real color or texture of her hair after completing the first cycle.
What should you do with the bald spots?
While it is completely normal for the bald spots to occur, you can lessen its occurrence even by just a bit by changing your baby’s sleeping or lying down position.
One of the most common areas of balding is the back part of the head because it is what rubs against the mattress, pillow, or blanket. Letting her sleep on her side should help slow down the balding.
If she’s old enough to try tummy time, you should try it too.
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Other Causes Of Hair Loss In Babies
You cannot always dismiss hair loss as natural. When the hair shedding is excessive or there are other symptoms involved, you have to be more cautious. Some reasons may warrant a trip to the doctor.
1. Fungal infection.
According to BabyCenter, if you see redness in the scalp along with flaky scaling and broken hair, it could be caused by the fungi ringworm.
This does not call for an emergency trip to the doctor. You can take her during office hours. Your doctor may give your baby oral medication to treat the ringworm.
2. Traction alopecia.
As “medical” as this term may sound, it’s not something to be worried about. Traction alopecia is simply caused by physical factors such as tight ponytails. To avoid this, loosen up the hairbands; tight ones can damage the hair follicles which results in hair loss.
This term may sound scary, but you should not be ringing your doctor in the middle of the night for this. This refers to compulsive pulling or twisting of hair, which results in hair loss.
Experts say this could be an indicator of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) although it is more common in older kids. Another way to know it could be OCD is if you see sore picking habits like lip or nail biting.
4. Alopecia areata.
This is an autoimmune disorder that affects more than 4 million people in the United States. Children below 18 months of age rarely get this disease, but it can still happen.
The reason your baby loses hair is that the disease attacks the hair follicles, which causes it to shrink. This does not mean, however, that your baby is unhealthy. But you should consult your doctor about it.
5. Hypothyroidism or hypopituitarism.
Both of these medical conditions may cause hair loss because the thyroid or pituitary glands are underactive. These two are responsible for releasing hormones necessary for growth. You should ask your doctor about this to conduct further tests.
How To Care For Your Baby’s Hair
Although hair loss in babies is natural, we should still ensure we are taking care of their beautiful tresses whether they are permanent or not. Here are some ways how:
1. Use a mild shampoo. Our babies’ scalps are delicate, so using one with harsh ingredients may speed up hair loss. Read my review to find the best shampoo for your baby
2. Be gentle when massaging the scalp. Our babies may have cradle cap, so as you apply the shampoo, you have to massage the scalp gently. If it’s too brisk, the hair follicles may get stressed, which causes hair breakage.
3. Don’t shampoo every day. Our babies’ hair does not get dirty as much as our adult locks do, so there’s no need to shampoo it every day. Washing it with water only every other day is enough.
4. Use a soft-bristle brush. Again, our little ones’ hair and scalp are delicate. So you’d want something that won’t pull her hair or snag on tangles.
5. Avoid tight headbands and ponytails. As mentioned earlier, these two can cause traction alopecia. So if you want to add an extra dash of cuteness to your little one, make sure you’re using hair accessories that don’t speed up hair loss.
Again, hair loss in babies is a natural occurrence. We all go through that phase. It is just that our babies’ hair is too thin, so the balding is much more apparent. Also, it is a stage most babies must go through so the permanent hair color and texture will come out.
Don’t always dismiss hair fall or hair loss as normal. There are those that need a doctor’s attention, particularly if it is kindled by fungi or diseases.