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Telogen effluvium in children

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Telogen effluvium in children is a form of temporary hair loss that occurs following a stressor to the system. This condition affects the normal hair growth cycle, leading to increased hair shedding and thinning.

Causes

Telogen effluvium can be triggered by various stressors, including​​​​:

  • Illness
  • Surgical procedures and general anesthesia
  • Accidents
  • Childbirth
  • Nervous shock or anxiety
  • Significant weight loss or unusual diets
  • Discontinuing the contraceptive pill
  • Overseas travel resulting in jet lag
  • High fever
  • Severe infections
  • Psychological stress
  • Endocrine disorders like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
  • Certain medications (e.g., retinoids, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, NSAIDs)

Symptoms

The symptoms of telogen effluvium are characterized by​​:

  • Increased hair loss, noticeable on hairbrushes, shower drains, or pillows.
  • Thinning hair on the scalp.
  • Dry hairs that fall out easily.
  • The scalp usually appears healthy without any rash, itching, burning, pain, or flaking.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is typically made through a physical examination of the scalp. A common method used by healthcare providers is the “pull test,” where a small clump of hairs is gently pulled to see how many come out. In telogen effluvium, more hairs than normal are likely to be pulled out​​.

Treatment

Most cases of telogen effluvium resolve on their own without treatment within six to eight months, once the triggering factor is addressed. Treatment options, if needed, may include​​​​:

  • Gentle handling of the hair, avoiding vigorous combing or brushing.
  • Ensuring a well-balanced diet with sufficient protein, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Over-the-counter medications like minoxidil (Rogaine®) to promote hair growth.
  • Multivitamins or supplements containing iron or biotin to support hair health.
  • Hair styling techniques to obscure or hide hair loss, such as using wigs or hair weaves.

Prognosis and Management

Telogen effluvium is generally a self-correcting condition. The key to managing it effectively involves identifying and addressing the underlying cause. Maintaining a nutritious diet and gentle hair care can aid in the recovery process. In most cases, once the stressor is resolved, normal hair growth resumes, and hair density gradually returns to its previous state.

For children experiencing telogen effluvium, it’s essential to monitor their hair health and consult a healthcare provider if hair loss is significant or if there are concerns about the underlying cause. Early intervention can help manage the condition effectively and alleviate any associated stress or anxiety.

The Pediatric.me content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician