When your baby is born, your infant could have a wisp of hair or a full head of luscious locks. After a few months, you might notice that your little one is experiencing a bit of hair loss. There is no need to worry; hair loss can happen at any age, including in infancy. Let's look at hair loss in babies and why you should not worry about it.
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Hair Loss in Infants
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies will lose some hair in the few months of their lives. You might be concerned, but that is entirely normal. Hair loss is called alopecia. That term is used for adults, but these conditions can develop in young ones. Anything from the baby's sleeping position or hormones can lead to hair loss. However, there is good news. Infant hair loss is rarely associated with a medical problem.
Related: When Will My Baby's Hair Grow?
What Symptoms Are Normal?
Infant hair loss will happen in the first six months of life, peaking at three months. You might not even notice anything missing on your little one's head. Hair loss and regrowth can happen at the same time. In some cases, the hair will fall out fast, and your baby might be sporting the bald look for a few weeks. These scenarios are all normal, and there is no need to be concerned.
You will also want to look for other signs of hair loss in your infant, such as:
- Loose strands in your hand after stroking the baby's head
- Hair in a towel or bath after shampooing the infant's hair
- Hair in the crib, stroller, or any place where they rest their head
Baby Hair Loss Causes
There are many reasons for infant hair loss, but they are harmless. These causes include:
When your baby is born, they will have all of their hair follicles. After birth, those follicles might still be in the resting phase (telogen) while other babies are in a growing phase (anagen). Many factors can accelerate the telogen phase, leading to shedding hair.
Hormones play a significant role in telogen effluvium. With help from the umbilical cord, your baby has access to high levels of hormones. After the birth, the hormone levels will decrease, triggering some hair loss in your little one.
If you notice hair loss on the back of the scalp, it might be attributed to rubbing. Your baby can lose hair due to rubbing on hard surfaces, such as playpens, crib mattresses, and strollers. This type of hair loss is called neonatal occipital alopecia or friction alopecia. Those thinned-out areas will fill in once the baby can roll on their stomachs.
Some researchers have suggested that infant hair loss starts well before birth. Neonatal occipital alopecia can affect babies who:
- Have mothers younger than 34 years of age at the time of the baby's birth
- are delivered vaginally
- are delivered full term
However, the long-standing belief is that when an infant spends time against a hard surface, they can experience friction alopecia.
Related: What To Know About Baby Growth Spurts
A baby's hair will often be oily, crusty, or scaly. That condition is called cradle cap. The medical world does not know what causes it, but it is thought to be a change in hormone levels, which causes the scalp to create more oil. While a cradle cap does not cause hair loss, you might take out some strands when trying to remove those scales.
Ringworm is called tinea capitis and is not caused by worms but a type of fungi. You might notice a red, scaly, ring-like rash on your baby's scalp. While ringworm is not common in children under the age of 2, it can be highly contagious.
You may see patchy bald spots on the baby's head with this skin condition. This cause of hair loss is caused by a defect in the immune system where it can destroy healthy hair cells. Yet, this condition is rare in children under six months.
Treatment for Baby Hair Loss
It might seem like a big issue, but hair loss is entirely normal in babies. Most hair loss will regrow by the baby's first birthday. You cannot do anything to stimulate the regrowth process. Still, if you notice alopecia areata and ringworm symptoms, you should seek medical advice to prevent any further hair loss.
Placing your baby on their stomach (for a short period) can help to reduce friction. Keep in mind that you will want to put them on their backs until their first birthday. After that, they can roll over from the back to the stomach by themselves.
Related: When Does Baby's Hair Grow
Baby Hair Care Tips
Whether your little one's experiencing mild or heavy hair loss, here is the best way to care for that hair.
- Use a mild shampoo specially made for babies, which is less irritating to a newborn's scalp.
- Never scrub your baby's head.
- Don't overdo the shampooing. Two or three times a week is sufficient for most babies.
- Always use a soft-bristled brush to remove the cradle cap. Never scrub your baby's scalp, or it can result in hair loss.
Hair Loss is Usually Nothing to Worry About
Remember that hair loss in babies is normal and temporary. But if your baby does not grow back the hair by the first birthday, or there are bare patches or scales, it could be time to talk to your doctor. In many cases, hair loss should not cause you to worry, and it is just part of the development process. Your baby will have plenty of hair for those first birthday photos.
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