What's in This Guide?
- 1 What You Should Know About Hair Loss in Babies
- 1.1 When Should I Get Worried about My Baby’s Hair Loss?
- 1.2 Is Hair Loss Common in All Babies?
- 1.3 Why Do Babies Experience Hair Loss?
- 1.4 Are there Medical Conditions that Leads to Hair Loss in Babies?
- 1.5 What Medical Treatments are Available for Hair Loss in Babies?
- 1.6 Ways to Prevent Hair Loss in Babies
Everything New Parents Needs to know about Baby Hair Loss
Newborn babies change rapidly during the first few months after birth, but some of these changes might not be so exciting, and one of such worrisome changes is baby hair loss. Is hair loss average in newborn babies? Why is my baby losing her hair? Should I get worried about my baby’s hair loss? These and many similar questions are the primary concerns of parents whose babies are losing their hair.
However, this hair loss occurs regularly amongst newborn babies, and it is not abnormal for babies to start losing their hair. Are you noticing your baby’s hair fall off? You might be confused, as you can’t seem to fathom what causes the hair loss and the solution to this problem. Well, this article would provide you with proper answers to all your questions.
What You Should Know About Hair Loss in Babies
As babies grow, you might notice that their hair starts looking thinner. You might find some strands of hair on their pillows, bathwater, and hairbrush. Although you may not notice a bald patch, it is worrisome for babies to lose their hair. The most common form of this condition is referred to as Neonatal Occipital Alopecia (NOA).
Hair loss in babies seems normal, mainly during the first six months after birth, and occurs just before they start growing their mature hair. However, it is essential to note that the pattern and time at which hair loss occurs in babies varies and are often based on different factors. Some factors that affect hair losses in babies include hereditary, nutrition, sex, and ethnicity.
Generally, babies start losing their hair from around their 8th week till 12th week. Hopefully, this temporal condition goes away, and they start growing their mature hair. However, it might take up to about two years for their mature hair to grow thicker.
Please note that the new mature hair might look different from the initial birth hair of your baby. The texture and color might turn out to be different, with sparse birth hair growing to be thicker and blond birth hair becoming brown. So, don’t get worried if your baby’s curly hair grows back to be straight.
When Should I Get Worried about My Baby’s Hair Loss?
Hair loss in babies reportedly counts for 3% of the pediatric office visits in the United States. Although NOA tends to be expected, you must note any abnormal hair loss in your baby. When does the hair loss tend to be strange? If your baby keeps losing hair at the age of six months or your baby shows no sign of growing their mature hair once they clock one year old, then you might consider visiting your pediatrician.
Some other abnormal hair loss signs that you should report to your doctor includes:
- Flaky, red, and inflamed scalp
- Severe hair loss that occurs suddenly
- Baby having some troubles feeding
- Loss of weight in babies
- Hair growing in fistfuls
Is Hair Loss Common in All Babies?
There are no exact statistics on the number of babies affected by NOA. However, some studies show that about 9% to 12% of infants tend to lose their hairs, with some cases being mild, that is not even noticeable. Also, NOA is commonly found amongst Caucasian babies, delivered through vaginal births, and birthed by mothers below the age of thirty-four.
Why Do Babies Experience Hair Loss?
There are several speculations as to why babies lose their hair. One such speculation is the attribution of hair loss in babies due to constant friction as the baby’s hair rubs against the pillow. However, the pillows are not to blame for your baby’s hair loss as they occur due to physiologic hair activities.
From the 12th week of fetal life, babies start growing their hair follicles and growing their hair from the back part towards the front part of their scalp. All their hair follicles get formed by the 20th week, and from the 22nd week, the hair starts undergoing synchronous shedding. This hair shedding is termed telogen, and it occurs in a manner that follows the hair formation pattern.
Just before the baby’s delivery (12 weeks earlier), the baby scalp undergoes telogen again, and by the time the baby is born, the front hair is off. Then, the regrowing process actively occurs, and your baby’s hair starts getting thicker. However, some babies do not shed their back hair during the whole process and start doing some weeks after they are born.
Therefore, whenever you see some strands of hair on your baby’s pillow during the first few weeks after birth, you mustn’t freight since this is part of the baby’s hair cycle. Hence, it doesn’t matter if your baby lies on their back while sleeping, as this is not responsible for the hair shedding but aids the process.
Another study attributes baby hair loss to some hormonal changes when there is a drop in the progesterone level after birth. This change can cause telogen effluvium not just in babies but also in the mother. Also, a sudden increase in cortisol during the process of childbirth can trigger telogen effluvium.
With the increase in the cortisol hormone, essential resources in the body are channeled into crucial functions for survival, and hair growth, which seems non-essential, is left out. This condition can appear in babies due to stress or other traumatic situations like childbirth or illnesses following the first few weeks after birth.
Are there Medical Conditions that Leads to Hair Loss in Babies?
Although hair loss in babies seems familiar, if you notice that your baby’s hair is not growing as they clock a year old, then you might want to seek medical help.
Several medical conditions could lead to hair loss in babies, which includes:
This condition is an autoimmune disorder that attacks healthy hair, leading to some amount of hair loss. This condition can cause visible patches that are often oval or round in shape and smooth in babies. It is also associated with some inflammations that affect the hair follicles.
However, in most kids, their hair starts regrowing within one year, but it spreads across the scalp, leaving the head bald in some cases. Please note that children below the age of six months rarely get affected by this condition, even though it can affect different persons not minding their age. Research also shows that about 50% of kids are likely to experience hair losses in the future
Ringworm is another medical condition that can lead to hair loss in babies. This fungal infection often starts as a scaly patch on babies’ skin that gets itchy and leads to hair loss on the affected areas. It is very contagious, and the risk of babies contracting this infection increases with poor hygiene. Thus, it is common in some households that share combs, hats, pillows, and clothes.
Cradle cap appears like a yellow, thick, oily, or crusty patch on babies’ scalp. This type of eczema (seborrheic dermatitis) is not painful and doesn’t itch. It is also not contagious and tends to clear out by itself, except in extreme cases. About 10% of babies within three weeks to twelve months often experience a cradle cap.
This condition can also occur by the effect of some hormones transferred from mothers to their babies during childbirth. Babies experiencing cradle cap tend to secrete more oil from their glands.
What Medical Treatments are Available for Hair Loss in Babies?
In NOA cases, you can wait for your baby’s hair to grow back if they are about six months of age. However, when you notice some abnormal hair loss conditions, you might want to visit your baby’s pediatrician or a dermatologist to help diagnose the significant cause of the hair loss.
During the visit to your doctor, you might be required to answer some questions to help provide a proper diagnosis and a plan for treating your baby. However, this treatment plan varies based on the severity of the condition and the age of the baby.
Treating Alopecia Areata
There is no cure for this condition but means to help manage it, such as the application of steroid creams. Also, the dermatologist may prescribe some products that stimulate hair growth like anthralin and minoxidil, along with steroids. Please note that this treatment is dependent on the age of the child.
This treatment can run for up to six or eight weeks, employing oral antifungal like griseofulvin. A dermatologist may also advise that parents wash their baby’s scalp using good antifungal shampoos containing either ketoconazole or selenium. You can leave in the shampoo for about five minutes before you wash it off. These medicated shampoos help prevent the spread of the fungus.
Since ringworm is very contagious, it would be helpful if you treat other affected children. Also, ensure you keep good hygiene and try not to share pillows, clothes, and combs, as they can cause a re-infection. All infected animals should be treated, as well.
Treating Cradle Cap
The treatment for cradle cap is optional, as it tends to clear out on its own. Using a baby shampoo or an anti-dandruff shampoo would be fine; wash the baby’s scalp daily. Also, parents who don’t feel comfortable with frequent washing the baby’s scalp can apply an antifungal cream. Some doctors recommend 1% hydrocortisone cream.
Ways to Prevent Hair Loss in Babies
It would be quite helpful for parents to have various means that would help prevent baby hair loss. Thus, saving them the stress of constant visits to the doctor’s office and the stress from the treatment activities. Whether you are trying to prevent your baby from losing her hair in the initial place or doing so after a hair regrow, there are some effective methods that you might want to consider,
Here are some ways you can prevent your baby from facing hair loss:
Try to Limit the Daily Washing of Your Baby’s Hair
With the presence of lesser oils on your baby’s scalp, they tend to have very little dirt on their hair and, as such, do not require a frequent hair wash. Constant hair washing for your baby can make the hair drier, leading to breakages.
Thus, you might want to limit your baby’s hair washing to about two or three times a week if your baby does not have any scalp infections. Also, try using a suitable baby shampoo that is mild or make use of warm water.
Stop Picking at Your Baby’s Scalp
It is common for some persons to pop rashes on a baby’s skin and their scalp. But care should be taken when it comes to cradle cap, as it is not proper to pick at the cradle cap on babies’ heads.
Instead, you can make use of better ways like applying coconut or mineral oil for about thirty minutes before you bathe your baby. This act can help eliminate those crusts as the oil moistens and softens them, making it very easy to remove. Please, make sure you wash off all oils applied at bath time to avoid worsening the condition.
Stop Styling the Baby’s Hair
Styling of baby’s hair is standard practice, and they often make babies look cute. However, this act can increase the rate of hair loss in babies, as their hair seems thin and very sensitive.
When you style your baby’s hair, it reduces the flow of oxygenated blood and decreases the nutrients for nourishing your baby’s hair and scalp. Also, hairstyles that involve braids can trigger traction alopecia, which causes hair loss.
Hair loss is common amongst babies and seems familiar for most of them, as they go through their hair cycle during the first few weeks after birth. However, if you notice some abnormal conditions like crusting, redness, or inflammation on your baby’s scalp, it would be beneficial to visit the doctor for appropriate treatments. You can check out our article for various ways that can help you prevent baby hair loss.