Hair loss in infants is absolutely normal and should not be considered as a sign of worry, particularly during the first few months. However, hair loss can be due to some medical condition in a few cases. Once your newborn turns six and you can still see signs of hair fall, it is time to consult a physician.
While some infants are born completely bald, some of them have lots of hair by birth. That’s because the growth of hair varies from baby to baby.
A baby undergoes a lot of changes in the first few months and you may notice that they have started losing a few strands of hair. As a new or first-time parent, it is normal for you to get worried.
However, there is nothing to worry about. It is absolutely normal for infants to experience hair loss. Typically, infants will lose enough hair during the first 5 to 6 months.
However, in certain cases, hair fall in infants could be attributed to an underlying problem.
Most Common Reasons Why Babies Can Lose Hair
1. Fungal Infections
Fungal infection is one of the most widespread reasons behind hair fall in babies. Fungal infection, also known as ringworm or tinea capitis can lead to hair loss in newborns.
Look around for bald patchy spots that tend to look crusty or flaky and red. At times, the hair tends to break off at their root and the sparse bald spots can get covered with a few black dots.
In general, the treatment of fungal infection in babies takes around 1 to 2 months and includes a good anti-fungal soap or shampoo along with mild oral medications(1).
2. Physical Damages
Just like babies, their hairs are too gentle and tender. Parents, at times, do not comprehend that they are actually tying their newborn’s hair way too tightly. When their hairs are tied too tightly, it can lead to traumatic symptoms in the infant, which can lead to hair fall.
In case you start to see signs of hair loss in your newborn, avoid tying the hairs for a while or stop making braids.
3. Alopecia Areata
In case the infant is over six months of age and there are signs of hair fall in multiple patches, you must consult your physician for ruling out the odds of alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is a type of autoimmune health condition wherein the baby’s immune system assaults its hair follicle, which may lead to hair loss.
In such cases, the patches tend to be smooth and there are no signs of hair loss. Though not quite common, at least 1 in 5 infants can catch it in case someone in the family is suffering from alopecia areata. In certain cases, the lost hairs will easily grow back; however, it could be extremely slow and can even take up to several years.
There is no set cure for this condition so far. However, you can discuss this with a certified dermatologist for alternative methods for stimulating the growth of your baby’s hairs.
4. Telogen Effluvium
Typically, hair growth has a specific cycle. It begins with a growth stage, then passes through a transitional stage, and ultimately halts at a resting stage.
As such, the last stage of the hair lifecycle is called telogen, wherein our hair follicles stay dormant. During telogen effluvium, the new hairs are pushed towards the last stage immediately, thence leading to a bulk hair loss.
It is generally prompted by something. In the case of infants, it could be triggered by high fever, emotional stress, or surgery.
While there is no set treatment for this condition other than getting rid of the trigger or hoping for it to go away completely, own its own. Fortunately, Telogen Effluvium is just a momentary hair condition. Therefore, your newborn’s hair should start growing back soon. Consult a dermatologist to discuss your options.
5. Lying Down In A Specific Position
There’s a possibility that your infant’s hair loss is in a specific portion of the head. Perhaps on one side of the head or at the back of the skull. Watch carefully to figure out how the infant sleeps, sits, or rests.
When your newborn fancies cradling themselves by resting or sleeping on their side or on their back always, their ultra-fragile hair shafts may get damaged.
Continuous rubbing and pressing on the bed sheet or the floor can result in hair fall. If you identify that the hair loss in your baby is due to the resting or sleeping position, make sure you gently turn his or her side a few time at night or while the baby sleeps during daytime.
6. Certain Medical Condition
Though not common, certain medical conditions can also lead to hair loss in your baby. The deficiency of certain vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients such as iron deficiency or thyroid imbalance can lead to hair fall in babies.
If you notice unexplained hair loss in your infant, it is recommended that you consult a dermatologist to figure out the underlying reason behind your baby losing hair.
7. Endocrine problems
In a few cases, the reason behind hair fall can be hypothyroidism, a health condition wherein the thyroid becomes underactive and starts producing an inadequate quantity of thyroid hormones that are necessary for regulating the metabolism of your baby.
In such cases, a diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be conducted through a blood test while treatment primarily involves medicines prescribed by the endocrinologists for replacing deficient hormones.
8. Illness and stress
Babies have a weak immune system and are susceptible to infections and viruses, therefore they often fall ill.
In several cases, stress caused by common ailments such as fever or simple cold can make the hair follicle of your baby weak, thereby leading to hair fall. Consult a pediatrician to discuss your options.
What Should You Do?
In case your infant’s hairs start to get thin, be careful and watch for other signs such as flaky scalp or redness. In the majority of cases, you need not worry too much. Hair loss in infants below five months is a common sight
However, if your newborn is losing hair even after six months, you need to consult a registered medical practitioner just for ruling out the possibility of some serious underlying cause.
In addition, there are several other things you can consider doing so as to avoid hair loss in your baby, such as:
- Go for tummy time: Ensure your infant spends some time on the tummy each day. It helps the baby’s hair to freely breathe with no external stress. In addition, it helps boost their overall physical development too.
- Limit tying or combing your baby’s hair to just once daily: Keep in mind, your baby has extremely fragile hair and it must be handled with utmost care and caution. Combing or tying their hair several times daily could be too strict for their new and highly-sensitive scalp.
- Avoid washing their hair every day: While washing your baby’s hair, make sure you are patient and gentle. Also, it is recommended that you use dermatologically-tested and gentle baby shampoo. Also, ensure using a soft and gentle baby brush for combing their hair. Avoid all the styling part for a couple of years.
- Remember to change your newborn’s napping posture: Make sure you turn your newborn’s position several times while they sleep to make sure they aren’t putting undue stress on their skull in one specific position.
Do You Need To Take Your Baby To A Physician?
Hair fall in babies is generally not regarded as a medical emergency. However, you may consider consulting a physician if your newborn has no other health concern except an unexplained hair loss.
If your newborn shows the symptoms given below along with hair fall, then ensure to consult a physician or pediatrician.
- Itchiness in scalp
- Inflammation and redness
- Newborn tends to pull hair quite frequently
- Fast hair thinning because of hair loss
- Crusty and cracked scalp with or without bleeding
- Pimples or blisters at the spot of hair loss
- Loss of appetite
As discussed above, hair fall in infants is normal and you should not worry much about it, particularly if your baby is just a few months old. However, if your newborn is over 6 months of age and is still losing hair, it is time for you to consult a dermatologist or a pediatrician to rule out the odds of some serious underlying complication.
Also, in the majority of the cases, the hair loss in your newborn might be attributed to one of the factors explained in this post. Simply identify the right symptom and follow the instructions discussed in the post to provide your baby with the right hair fall treatment.