An alopecia diagnosis can be distressing for both children and parents alike. Alopecia is an inflammatory disease that causes hair loss and bald patches and can be associated with other autoimmune diseases like vitiligo and thyroiditis. While it is not contagious, its presentation, chronic nature, and challenges in treatment can take an emotional and psychological toll on families.
Children, who are inherently vulnerable and already working to “fit in” amongst their peer group, can struggle with the visibility of their disease. Parents, wishing to protect and shield them from undue hardship, may often contend with feelings of self-blame and helplessness.
In order to support children dealing with this condition, parents can consider a two-pronged approach: medical support and emotional support.
While there is currently no cure for alopecia, parents can take action by:
- Staying up to date about the variety of treatments available — existing treatments work to stop active loss and re-growing hair
- Speaking with their child’s physicians to better assess the effectiveness of the various treatment options, including injections, topical creams, or ointments
- Remaining vigilant about any side effects of medication children might report or that parents may perceive
- Noting any changes in signs and symptoms in their child’s presentation of the condition
Sadness and shame are often feelings associated with a diagnosis of chronic hair loss. Parents can support their children by:
- Talking openly about alopecia as a medical condition, affecting people of all ages, genders, and nationalities
- Encouraging children to express their feelings of sadness or shame and validating the emotions they may be experiencing as both natural and appropriate
- Noting any changes to their child’s mood and addressing issues of depression or anxiety head-on, with therapeutic support if possible
- Recognizing that their own attitude and approach to coping with the challenges of early hair loss will have an effect on their child’s self-regard as well
The challenges that come with caring for children with an alopecia diagnosis are complex and not easily addressed. Prioritizing medical and emotional support equally can alleviate some of the stressors of coping with a chronic disease.
This blog is intended to be informational in nature. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.