Hair Replacement Challenges For Children with Alopecia
Alopecia or excessive hair loss is a common problem among both adults and kids. Whether caused by illnesses, diseases, medical treatments or severe burns, hair loss can be very hard to handle for parents and the affected kid alike. Loss of hair could be in patches or in the whole process, and it may happen gradually though it is easy to note. It may be possible to cure or stop the root cause of the problem, but it always takes time for the hair to grow back.
Hair loss in children may cause serious psychological and emotional issues such as stress and loss of self esteem. Children always want to feel and appear equal to their peers and serious problems like hair loss can cause the emotional distress, which can worsen even the medical condition behind the problem. It is therefore important for the parents to approach the issue with care and help the affected child deal with the situation in the best way possible. If you notice hair loss in your child, the first thing should be to visit a paediatric dermatologist for examination and diagnosis of the cause. It is also advised to only use the best disposable razor when trimming or shaving kids with alopecia symptoms for safety purposes. Modern disposable razors are affordable and easy to use for any parent and will prevent spread of the condition to other persons. Once used, the razor should be disposed as directed by the manufacturers.
What Is Alopecia And What Are The Causes?
Alopecia simply refers to baldness or loss of hair, which may result from several causes and come in different pattern. In some cases small patches of hair fall out and can be noticed on your pillow, when combing the hair or in the bath drain after taking a shower. The amount of hair lost varies from one child to the other; some may lose hair in a few patches, others in big many patches and in few cases lose all the hair.
Alopecia can be genetic (congenital) or acquired. Some causes of alopecia in children are:
- Tinea Capits – A contagious fungal disease that affects the scalp commonly known as ringworm. It causes hair loss in large circular or oval-shaped patches.
- Alopecia areata – A genetic condition of the immune system in which the immune system attacks the hair roots and causes hair loss in small patches or loss of all the hair.
- Trichotillomania – Force-pulling of hair out leading to partial hair loss
- Traction alopecia – Results from regular pulling of the hair which damages the hair root causing alopecia.
- Radiation treatment – Intensive medication for cancer patients.
- Others – Includes trauma, emotional stress or burns on the scalp.
In some cases Alopecia can be temporary or permanent while in others it keeps going and coming back. Whatever the cause, it may take months or years to have the hair grow back which makes it necessary to seek short term or permanent hair replacement solutions.
What Should The Parent Do?
After visiting a professional doctor to rule out any physical cause of the hair loss and diagnosing the root problem;
- Seek Medical Treatment – Some mild alopecia cases are treated by use of creams or injections. Other severe cases may require oral tablets while some alopecia situations do not respond to treatment in which case hair may never grow back. Discuss the best treatment with your doctor and start the treatment immediately.
- Prepare The Child Emotionally – To protect the child’s self esteem and emotions, it is important to prepare them for the situation. Hold an open discussion with the child about the hair loss and make them fully understand what is happening now or what may happen later, especially in case of alopecia caused by medications such as cancer treatment. There are many useful books to help you on how to approach the topic, or you can seek the help of a children psychotherapist. This will help them handle the anxiety and accept the unavoidable circumstances.
- Short Term Alopecia Solutions – There are several short term hair loss solutions but the main challenge has always been their effectiveness and comfort. These solutions include:
- Wigs – A wig can be the cheapest hair replacement option, but coupled by a number of limitations in that; they are not attached to the head, not favourable in hot weather and limits the children playing activities, so they are not the best solution for kids.
- Off-Shelf Hair Systems – There many hair systems available today, which you can buy and fit them on your own. Though they are affordable and better than wigs finding a suitable size that fits your child’s head is always a challenge. Also they look unnatural and must be changed after 3-4 months, which makes the option very expensive in the long run.
- High-End Custom-Fit Hair Systems – These are either partial or full hair systems mostly made of human hair attached to a breathable lace cap. They are fixed using clinical adhesive and are fitted at a hair replacement clinic. The systems are more comfortable and give your child a natural look. They will also allow the child to participate in sports, bathe, swim and jump around without fear that they will fall off the head. This makes your kid feel better and enjoy a normal life while at school or out playing with friends.
- Hair Transplant Surgery – Hair transplantation can be a perfect alopecia solution. When done by a qualified and experienced professional and given the modern innovations and tools, it can produce a remarkable natural look of the child. However, the option still faces many challenges including lack of hair donors, methods of preserving the donated hair, and how to conceal any evidence of the surgery. The option can also be very expensive but for those who can afford it the results are worth the cost.
Seeking the best hair replacement option for your child will prevent them from being ridiculed and teased by others. This will help them maintain high confidence and boost their self esteem. Whether you choose the surgical or non-surgical hair replacement, it is important to consider the comfort, long term cost and the appearance to remedy the situation. You can also seek psychological help and advice to handle the hard situation from your local alopecia advocacy organizations.
Though challenging, when taken with courage and the right approach, the alopecia is manageable and you will give your child the best life it deserves.