Common Causes of Childhood Hair Loss

Hair Loss in Infants and Children

There are several types of hair loss which can affect infants and children. Hair loss within the first six months of life is rarely a cause for concern. Most babies will shed some or all of their original hair sometime within this period. This is a natural process. The hairs that were shed will eventually be replaced by new growing hair.

Other causes of childhood hair loss are explained below.

Friction Hair Loss

Infant’s hair, being fine and delicate can easily get rubbed off by friction. It is common for babies to rub off a patch of hair on the back of their head by rubbing it against the mattress in their crib. The hair loss will grow back once the rubbing ends—usually at six months, when the baby can sit up. Hair bands and tight caps can also rub off a newborns fragile hair, if worn too often.

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap causes a crusty, scaly rash on the scalp. It is commonly seen in healthy infants from 2 two to six months old. Cradle cap is not contagious. It often clears up on its own. In severe cases cradle cap can cause severe itching and hair loss. Massaging the scalp with gentle nourishing oil can help to loosen and dissolve the scales.

Tinea Capitis

Tinea capitis, also known as ringworm is a common cause of hair loss in children. It is most prevalent in children three to nine years old. Contrary to its name, ringworm does not come from a worm. It is actually caused by a type of fungus called dermatophyte. The fungus invades the hair shaft causing it to break off very close to the scalp. Ringworm starts out as a small pimple, eventually causing scaly patches of baldness with an outline shaped like a ring. Ringworm is also referred to as “black dot alopecia” due to the appearance of the broken hair shafts within the circular patch.

Ringworm is easily transmittable and highly contagious. It is often treated naturally with tea tree oil which is a safe and effective anti-fungal agent. Without treatment it may spread, causing considerable hair loss.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss in patches with well defined margins. The onset of alopecia areata is most common in children between four and seven years old but it can appear at any age. Alopecia areata can progress to alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis affecting total scalp and body hair.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia often affects children who consistently wear their hair tightly pulled. Cheerleaders and dance team members are often required to wear these kinds of hairstyles for performances and competitions. Sustained tension on the scalp causes the hair to loosen from its follicular roots. Hair loss will be most prevalent in the temple and circumference areas where was traction was sustained.


Trichotillomania is derived from Greek, meaning "manic desire to pluck out one's own hair." This impulse control disorder often starts in childhood. A person with this disorder will feel an overwhelming urge to pull out his or her hair. The urge to pull causes overwhelming tension and anxiety that can only be relieved by pulling out the hair.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium, also known as diffuse hair loss is caused by a physical or emotional deficiency or imbalance. Because the hair growth cycle is very sensitive, even a minor disturbance can cause telogen effluvium. Excessive hair loss which falls fairly evenly from all over the scalp is an indication of telogen effluvium. This type of hair loss is usually temporary and reversible once the problem is identified and addressed. Possible causes of telogen effluvium include illness, infection, trauma, stress, medication, malnutrition, etc. More causes of telogen effluvium can be found in the teen article.

Bacterial or Fungal Infections

Certain bacteria, fungus and other microorganism can infect the scalp causing inflammation and hair loss. Hair loss from scalp infections may be temporary or permanent depending on the degree of damage.

Eating Disorders

Hair loss can be a symptom of any eating disorder such as anorexia nervous or bulimia.


Hair loss often occurs during times of hormonal changes. Some hair loss may occur during puberty.


There have been reports of hair loss as an adverse side effect of vaccinations, mostly associated with the hepatitis B vaccine and mostly affecting females.

Medical Conditions

Hair loss can be a symptom of many medical conditions such as anemia, diabetes and many others.

There are other more rare forms of childhood hair loss that are often congentital in nature.

Most cases of childhood hair loss can be improved or reversed. Essential oil formulas are a natural and effective remedy. Because great care must be used when blending children’s formulas, custom blended formulas are recommended for children with hair loss and other scalp conditions. Books containing aromatherapy information, blending techniques and hair loss information can be purchased through VZ Botanicals.

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Rare Forms of Childhood Hair Loss
Aromatherapy for Childhood Alopecia