Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Hair Loss - From Severe Stress

Definition

  • Major thinning of the hair starting 3 months after a stressful event
  • The medical name for this type of hair loss is telogen effluvium.

Call or Return If

  • Hair does not grow back by 12 months
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • Lots of hair is noticed in a comb or brush.
  • The hair falls out from all parts of the scalp.
  • This leads to major thinning of the hair, but no bald spots.

Cause

  • A severe stressful event
  • Reason: Hair follicles are very sensitive to physical or emotional stress.
  • Examples are a high fever, severe illness or surgery. Also, a psychological crisis or a crash diet can be triggers.
  • In pregnant teens, the stress can be childbirth.
  • Hair loss is not caused by shampoos.

Time Frame for Hair Loss and Return

  • The hair begins to fall out about 3 months (100 days) after a severe stress. (Range: 2 to 4 months).
  • It will keep falling out in large amounts over the next 3 or 4 months.
  • After hair stops shedding, the hair will slowly grow back. This can take 6 to 8 months for all the hair to grow back.
  • The whole cycle takes about 12 months.

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Thinning of the hair after a major stress can happen to anyone.
  • If your child is healthy, all the hair will return.
  • But there's no way to hurry the process.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Hair Care:
  • Treat the hair gently.
  • Wash the hair no more than once per day. Always use a hair conditioner.
  • Comb the hair rather than brushing it.
  • Be careful at combing out any tangled hair.
  • Avoid any tight hair styles such as braids or a pony tail.
  • Don't put tension on the hair.
Special Creams or Shampoos:
  • No special treatment is helpful.
  • The hair growth cycle needs to run its course.
What to Expect:
  • No more than 50% of the hair will be lost.
  • Once it starts to regrow, all the hair will grow back in 6 months.
  • The new hair will look normal.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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