My six-and-a-half-year-old daughter has been losing a lot of hair. Should I be concerned?
There are a few questions I would want answered before I begin to tackle this question. Firstly, is your daughter generally well and how long has this been going on? Is the hair loss in one particular area leaving a bald spot or is it patchy? Has your child recently been ill? Sometimes that can tip the balance of the hair cycle. These questions are part of a history your doctor will want to take in investigating possible causes of hair loss.
I spoke with one of my consulting dermatologists, Dr. Fred Weksberg of the Centre for Cosmetic Dermatology in Toronto, who agrees that it is important to try and establish a diagnosis. Some causes can be self-limiting, meaning that they recover on their own. An example of this would be a condition called Telogen Effluvium. This can happen after a period of stress such as a high fever. An acute viral illness or a bacterial illness can result in hair loss.
Hair loss can also be a sign of a nutritional deficiency such as iron deficiency anemia. Zinc deficiency and biotin deficiency can also contribute to hair loss. Overall, nutritional deficiencies are fairly rare as a cause of hair loss. Other medical conditions that can lead to hair loss include an under-active thyroid. Your doctor could decide if blood work is needed to rule out these medical conditions.
On occasion, alopecia, the medical word for hair loss, can be a sign of something more serious. Other possible causes include tinea capitis, traction alopecia, alopecia areata and trichotillomania:
Given your concern, I would recommend you see your health care provider to determine if a referral to a dermatologist is needed.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, June/July 2014.