Trauma to the hair shaft is another common cause of hair loss in children. Often the trauma is caused by traction (consistently worn tight braids, pony-tails, etc.) or by friction (rubbing against a bed or wheelchair for example). Chemical burns can also cause hair trauma.
Another misunderstood cause of trauma hair loss is called trichotillomania, the habit of twirling or plucking the hair. Trichotillomania is thought to be an obsessive-compulsive disorder that can be extremely difficult to treat since the patient usually feels compelled to pluck their hair. The hair loss is patchy and characterized by broken hairs of varying length. Within the patches, hair loss is not complete. Some children with trichotillomania also have trichophagy — the habit of eating the hair they pluck. These patients can develop abdominal masses consisting of balls of undigested hair. As long as the hair trauma was not severe or chronic enough to cause scarring, the hair will re-grow when the trauma is stopped.
Hair trauma can also occur when there is a physical injury to the scalp. Often times, children find themselves in a situation where they are physically injured and it results in stitches to close a wound. Normally, these are often minor and only leave a faint line in and around the hairline. Most times children are not adversely affected by these small scars.
Major surgeries, however, can leave not only a large physical mark on a child but a mental one as well. When they look in the mirror, they do not want to be reminded every time about the hardships they had to endure. Physical reminders can often delay the mental healing process. We offer many treatment options to help erase the physical aspect of those traumas, so internal healing can begin.