6 Causes Of Baby Hair Loss, Treatment & 4 Tips To Prevent It

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Hair loss in babies is not commonly seen. Thus, it might be worrisome for some parents when they notice their little one’s hair falling at such an early age. However, studies suggest that infant hair loss is common, and infant hair will be replaced by adult hair as they grow. This phenomenon is known as alopecia.

Read on to know about the causes, signs, treatment, and prevention of hair loss in babies. This article also mentions some symptoms to look out for, along with hair loss, which may require medical attention.

In This Article

Is It Normal For Babies To Have Hair Fall?

Hair loss in the first six months of life is normal for babies. Almost all newborns lose some or all of their hair before the mature hair follicles erupt (1). A newborn’s hormone levels drop right after birth, leading to loss of hair that the baby was born with. Scalp disorders can lead to hair loss in babies, making it important to maintain good scalp hygiene and treat any underlying conditions. Additionally, malnutrition can contribute to hair shedding and other hair-related issues in babies, making it essential to ensure they receive proper nutrition and a balanced diet. However, babies could also lose hair while rubbing their scalp against the mattress or as a result of a head caressing habit. Hair loss in babies could also happen as the baby starts to move.

In young babies, hair fall is common. But hair loss after the age of six months or a significant loss during the first six months could be an indicator of a dilemma.

Although, in rare cases, inherited autoimmune diseases such as alopecia since birth can be the main reasons for hair fall. This can occur by itself or in association with certain abnormalities of the nails and teeth. Later in childhood, hair loss could be due to medications, a scalp injury, a medical or nutritional problem, etc. Based on a collaborative study conducted by multiple institutions, pediatric alopecia areata impacts approximately 13.6 cases per 100,000 children. In such cases, a pediatric consultation is a wise option.

protip_icon Did you know?
Hair loss in newborns peaks when they are about three months old (2).

6 Possible Causes Of Hair Loss In Babies And Infants

The following are some of the most common causes of hair loss among infants (2):

  1. Constant friction: Babies spend a lot of time on their back and tummy till they can sit up. It is but normal for the head to come in contact with external surfaces. Repeated contact may lead to friction, which, if severe enough, could cause hair loss. Such hair loss is called friction alopecia or pressure alopecia. In such cases, hair loss usually ceases once the baby begins to sit and spends more time sitting than lying down.
  1. Scalp infections: Infections may be bacterial or fungal such as ringworm (tinea capitis), may cause hair loss among infants. Ringworm can cause circular patches of baldness on the baby’s scalp.
  1. Allergies: An allergic reaction of any form may lead to hair loss. A baby can be allergic to the massage oil that you apply to the scalp. Allergic conditions and eczema can also cause hair loss. A type of eczema that is commonly found on a baby’s head is seborrheic dermatitis, also called cradle cap (3).

Georgia Rose, a mother, describes the cradle cap’s impact on her baby’s hair. She says, “When she (her daughter) was three months old, she began to develop tiny bumps and scaly patches on her face, which felt dry and rough to touch. The doctor confirmed it as a cradle cap. It was around the same time that her hair started to fall out from the crown of her head. And, within a few days, all of her hair from the top fell out (i).”

  1. Repeated tugging of hair: If your baby tends to play with their hair or if there is a sibling who tugs the hair, then it could cause loss of hair. Psychological conditions such as trichotillomania, where the affected person likes pulling out hair, could be one of the reasons for it.
  1. Tight hairstyles: Braiding or tying the hair tightly is often a cause of hair loss in older infants and toddlers. Avoid binding the hair so tightly that it could damage the hair follicles and result in breakage and shedding of hair.
  1. Illness and stress: Underlying illness or a fever could make the hair follicle weak and lead to hair loss (4). Common causes of hair loss in children include telogen effluvium, tinea capitis, bacterial infections, traction alopecia, trichotillomania, and alopecia areata.

protip_icon Quick fact
Alopecia triangularis congenitalis is a congenital abnormality that causes a triangular patch of baldness on the scalp’s front (9).

The causes of hair loss could be many. So, it is important to note the signs of hair loss among infants to manage it more efficiently.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hair Loss In Babies?

baby bald patch due to hair loss

Image: Shutterstock

Here are the signs of severe hair loss in babies (2) (5):

  • Too many hair strands in the comb: Perhaps the first indicator of hair loss would be excess hair in the teeth of your baby’s comb. If there are more than the usual number of hair strands, talk to the baby’s pediatrician.
  • Hair all over the crib and toys: Excessive hair loss in babies can leave a trail of hair on things that the baby uses, from their crib to stuffed toys.
  • Hair shed when you run fingers through them: You end up with tufts of hair between your fingers each time you run your fingers through the baby’s hair. This is most likely to happen in extreme cases of hair fall, such as chemotherapy if the child is suffering from any type of cancer.
  • Bald patches on the scalp: You notice small or large circular zones of baldness or thin hair on the baby’s scalp. It is most common in conditions like ringworm, where the fungus invades only a part of the scalp, causing hair loss just in that area.
  • Red, crusty, or inflamed scalp: The scalp appears red or crusty with flakes of yellowish skin shedding while you comb. The skin of the scalp also is particularly inflamed. These symptoms can indicate dermatitis or eczema.

Do You Have To Take The Baby To A Doctor For Hair Loss?

crusty baby scalp requires medical attention

Image: Shutterstock

Hair loss in babies is not a medical emergency. If the baby is otherwise healthy, there is no need to take the baby to a doctor. However, if the baby has the following symptoms along with hair loss, then it is better for the doctor to take a look (2).

  • Itchiness of the scalp
  • Redness and inflammation
  • A cracked and crusty scalp that bleeds
  • Baby tends to pull hair very often
  • Rapid hair thinning due to hair loss
  • Blisters or pimples appear at the point of hair loss
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

The doctor may suggest a course of treatment depending on the symptoms shown by baby.

How Is Hair Loss In Babies Treated?

shampoo for curing baby hair loss

Image: Shutterstock

The treatment of hair loss will depend on the diagnosis of the underlying problem. Through examination of the scalp, the doctor will diagnose the reason for the hair fall. Treatment options for hair loss in babies include:

  1. Medicated baby-safe shampoos: If the doctor suspects an infection of the scalp, they may prescribe a medicated shampoo to clear the baby’s scalp of any pathogens that could have caused hair loss.
  1. Creams, lotions, and oils: Conditions like eczema of the scalp could be treated using creams that subdue inflammation. The doctor may also suggest lotions or baby oils that prevent the scalp from cracking, thus reducing hair loss.
  1. Anti-fungal ointments and medicines: Ringworm infections are treated with anti-fungal topical ointments. In severe cases of infection, your baby may be prescribed oral medications for faster relief.
  1. Use a soft bristle brush on your baby’s hair.

protip_icon Quick tip
Avoid using oils or ointments in the hair if there are pimples on the scalp, as they may worsen the condition. Blocked hair follicles often cause scalp pimples (2).

In some cases, you can prevent hair fall by taking a few simple precautions.

How To Prevent Hair Loss In Babies?

good hygiene prevents hair loss in babies

Image: Shutterstock

There is little you can do to prevent natural hair loss in babies aged less than six months. However, you can minimize the risk and slow down hair loss with proper hair care and a few precautions.

  • Shampoo your baby’s hair periodically: Get a mild, baby-safe shampoo and wash the baby’s hair at least once in two days. You could also consult the pediatrician schedule that works the best for your baby.
  • Avoid friction and tying baby’s hair too tight: Minimize scalp friction as much as you can and avoid tying the baby’s hair too tight. It reduces any strain on the hair follicles and thus reduces hair loss.
  • Maintain good hygiene: Fungal infections often spread due to contact with soiled and dirty clothes such as towels and caps. Always wash the baby’s towels and clothes with warm water and baby-safe disinfectant detergent. Washing hands, after playing outdoors, also helps prevent fungal spores from infecting the skin.
  • Be watchful of allergies: Allergic reactions often cause inflammation of the skin, including the scalp. Watch out for the signs of allergy, including symptoms such as skin hives and difficulty in breathing.

Hair loss in babies is harmless and does not usually indicate a health condition. It is normal for your baby to experience hair loss in the initial six months. However, in some cases, excessive hair falling accompanied by redness, fever, and appetite loss could indicate a more serious underlying condition such as a scalp infection. Otherwise, hair loss seldom has a severe consequence on the baby’s health, and you may have to wait a little longer for your baby to have strong, thick, and permanent hair, which is less prone to falling. Nevertheless, hormones and your baby’s genetic inheritance will surely impact their hair growth patterns.

Infographic: What Causes Hair Loss In Babies?

While hair loss is a common problem in adults, if a baby has this condition, it can cause concern. Shedding initial hair is a common phenomenon in newborns, but persistent hair loss in babies can be due to an underlying reason. The infographic below presents potential causes of hair loss in children.

common reasons for hair loss in babies (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Did your baby lose hair early on? How did you handle it? Share your story in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When does a baby’s hair grow back after hair loss?

Hair loss in babies younger than six months is normal due to friction against the mattress or head rubbing, and the hair is expected to grow back once they can move around and sit up (6).

2. How can I stimulate my baby’s hair to grow?

You may try the following ways to stimulate and promote your baby’s hair growth (7) (8):

  • A gentle scalp massage with coconut oil
  • A regular aloe vera gel massage before shampoo
  • Include lipid and vitamin A rich food for babies older than six months

3. How much hair loss is normal in babies?

In infants, it’s typical for nearly all newborns to go through a certain amount of hair loss. This is a natural process as their infant hair naturally sheds prior to the growth of adult hair. Hence, any hair loss during the initial six months of life is normal and should not cause concern (6).

4. Are there any home remedies to help promote hair growth in babies?

To promote hair growth in infants, you can do a gentle scalp massage, offer appropriate nutrition, keep the scalp clean, avoid tight hairstyles or accessories, and handle hair with care. It’s advisable to consult a pediatrician for personalized advice and to address any particular concerns.

Key Pointers

  • Hair loss in babies during the first six months is a common observation.
  • Possible causes of hair loss include allergies, scalp infections, tight hairstyles, or medical ailments.
  • Signs such as persistent itchy, red scalp, fever, or rapid hair thinning in babies require medical attention.
  • Treatment for this condition includes medication, baby shampoos, and ointments.
  • Minimizing scalp friction, washing the baby’s hair periodically, and keeping an eye out for allergies can help prevent hair loss.
hair loss in babies_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team

Get your questions and confusions cleared about falling baby hair during the first few months by an expert in this video.

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Hair Loss (Alopecia); American Academy of Pediatrics
2. Hair Loss; Seattle Children’s Hospital
3. Cradle Cap; National Health Service, UK
4. Reviewed by A S Levy, R Sather; Chemotherapy-Related Hair Loss (Alopecia) in Children; University of Rochester Medical Center
5. Hair loss; Raising Children, Australia
6. Hair loss (alopecia); Healthy Children; Academy of Pediatrics
7. K. P. Sampath Kumar et al. (2010); Aloe vera : A Potential Herb and its Medicinal Importance; Journal of chemical and pharmaceutical research
8. Nutritional needs of infants; Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles
9. Alopecia Areata; National Organization of Rare Disorders

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Dr. Umera Zakiahmed Saiyed is a homoeopathic consultant and runs her own clinic Noor. She pursued her BHMS from Yerela Medical College in Kharghar, Mumbai and worked as an assistant doctor under a gynaecologist in Surat, Gujarat.

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Rohit Garoo is a writer-turned-editor with over 9 years of experience in content writing, editing, and content marketing. He did his bachelors in Science at St. Xavier's College, Hyderabad, and masters in Business Administration at Osmania University.

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Dr. Ritika Shah is a certified lactation counsellor (CLC) from iNational Health Care Academy, Singapore and a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. She did her graduation in Dentistry from KM Shah Dental College.

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Shinta is a biotechnologist who is highly intrigued by science and technology. She holds a master's degree in Biotechnology from Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences and a PG Diploma in cellular and molecular diagnostics from Manipal University.

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