Hair Loss From Alopecia Areata in Children: Care Instructions

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Hair follicles with and without hair


Alopecia areata (say "al-uh-PEE-shuh ar-ee-ah-tuh") is a type of hair loss that affects the hair on the scalp or other areas of the body. The condition can go away for some time and then come back. It's most common in young people, but it can happen at any age.

Your child's hair may fall out in clumps and grow back over time. The way hair is lost and grows back is different for everyone. For many people, the hair grows back within a year.

You may decide to wait and see if your child's hair grows again before trying medicines. Treatment may include medicine you put on the scalp or skin. However, medicines don't always work.

Your child may have a range of feelings about their hair loss. Support your child's self-esteem. Talk with your child about their hair loss and answer their questions. Explain what alopecia areata is. This can help your child know how to answer questions from other children and adults.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If you decide to treat your child's hair loss, use medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your child's doctor if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • Try hair products and styles that make hair look thicker. Or your child could wear a hat. Shaving their scalp is also an option.
  • Talk to your child's doctor if your child is upset about their hair loss. Your child can get counseling to help.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child feels anxious or depressed.
  • You have questions about treatment.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.