Help, DD's hair is breaking off

acdesignskyDecember 12, 2005

A couple of weeks ago, I found a couple of chunks of hair about 8" long in our bathroom. It looked like the hair had been cut with scissors. I questioned both our girls and they denied knowing anything about it.

Tonight when DD was shampooing, 3 large clumps of hair fell onto the floor. I checked her scalp and found several patches on the top of her head where the hair was broken at or near the scalp. Again, it broke off in an even straight line, like it was cut with scissors not just broken or torn out.

DD was near hysterics. Any ideas as to what would cause this? She has wavy hair past her shoulders and wears a loose poneytail at the back of her head occassionally. The area with the breakage is not where her ponytail is. It's on the top of her head right in the middle. We don't use hairdriers, curling irons, etc. She's only 8 so no color, perms, etc either. My first instinct is to call her Ped. Am I overeacting?

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I'd call her pediatrician. I know that animals are not the same as kids (and I do have two kids), but my cat had clumps of hair falling out many years back, and I don't remember the medical name, but they gave him a few shots of cortisone a few weeks apart each and the problem went away. I'd definitely go see the dr.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 9:41PM
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Is this the same DD that had the other strange medical condition? Was it night sweats? Have you looked (googled) for a connection?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 9:53PM
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My immediate thought was the same as Sharon's - - is this the same DD? If so, I would call the pediatrician and start doing some research on my own. Not trying to scare, but that's just me - - I don't trust the doctors to figure things out all the time.

Keep us posted!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 9:59PM
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No, this is DD#1. Part of my hesitation to call is what we went through with her sister. I completely panicked and drove her Ped crazy, for what appears to be nothing more than nothing. We've had DD#2 back in the Ped office 3X since her initial visit and had her bloodwork done 2X. She even went to the Children's Hospital for some tests. She's checking out totally fine, even though she still occassionally has the night sweats. Ped is at a loss.
Anyway, I'm going to call her Ped. DD#1 is convinced that all of her hair is going to fall out. I was able to calm her down, but we'd both feel better with her going in.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 10:10PM
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Angc, if your pediatrician can't put his finger on it, you might get a referral to a dermatologist.

Also, lest he thinks you're 'overreacting' or exaggerating, keep the hair she loses and show him!

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 10:16PM
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I'm going to paste something here...I hope it's not deleted. Could this common childhod infection be the culprit?

From the internet:
An average human scalp contains about 100,000 hairs. Even when most of these hairs remain healthy, it is little consolation to the child with hair loss. Sergio, I expect that your 8-year-old's hair loss concerns him even more than it concerns you.

Hair loss in children is much more common than most people suspect. Catherine Wiley, M.D., of the Connecticut Children's Medical Center, estimates that hair loss is responsible for 3% of all pediatric office visits. The list of all the possible causes for hair loss is exceedingly long. Thankfully, the great majority of children who lose their hair do so from one of four causes -- all of which usually resolve with the appropriate treatment:

1. A fungal infection similar to athlete's foot is the most common cause of hair loss in children. Tinea capitis is the technical name for this scalp infection (tinea pedis is the name if the infection is on the foot). Tinea capitis is rare after puberty. Children with tinea capitis usually have patchy hair loss with some broken-off hairs visible just above the surface of the scalp. The patches of hair loss are usually round or oval, but sometimes irregular. Sometimes the hairs are broken right at the surface, and look like little black dots on the scalp. Sometimes gray flakes or scales are seen. Treatment usually requires an oral anti-fungal medication that can be prescribed by your doctor. The medication must be taken for 4 to 8 weeks, but is very effective at curing the infection and restoring the hair.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 11:54PM
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It does sound to me like it could be tinea capitis. Your pediatrician or NP should be able to diagnose and treat it.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 1:51AM
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pamela1- Thank you so much. It soes sound like tinea capitas. She does have some flaking as well. I'm getting her in to her Ped. before the end of the week. Brushing her hair this morning, I was amazed at how much she's lost.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 9:03AM
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Poor little sweetie. She deserves an extra Christmas gift. Let us know how she does and what you find out. Just a thought--you might want to take your other child in as well, in the event it's something they could pass to each other and she may have to take some medicine, too, to fully eradicate it.

Please let us know how it all turns out!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 2:35PM
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Isn't this ring worm? By the way, are cortisone shots something that you can only have so many of before they become somewhat risky?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 3:39PM
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Isn't this ring worm?

Yes, tinea capitis is essentially a ringworm infection of the scalp.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 5:51PM
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I'm a licensed Master Cosmetologist of over 26 years and have seen numerous cases of hair loss for varioius reasons. Barring true medical reasons or side affects from chemo, here's what hit me.

The first thing that came to mind was that she had possibly had a perm that had the band rub on the hair cuticle and it was so weak it broke off.

Second thought, she used a metal barret or bobby pin in wet hair that rusted and left metal deposits (a line of rust) that had reacted with another chemical, like chlorine, causing the hair to snap and break straight across.

Third thought, too tight of a hair clasp.

Fourth thought, maybe she's started pulling her hair in the same spot. Don't think this doesn't happen. I've had clients that twirled their hair in their crown or other spot on their head and literally pulled their hair out bald.

Fifth thought, stress. Stress will cause hair to fall out in clumps from a few hairs to the size of a quarter. I've seen this happen in men and their beards, women, and children.

Sixth was ring worm, as discussed above. If her scalp is crusty, you really need to move the crust. Acetone (finger nail polish remover) is a help. Depending on how much crust there is, you could use a cotton ear swab or a soft tooth brush. Once the crust is removed, I would shampoo with Selsen Blue, then apply NP 27. You can also buy products with Tolnaftate 1% or Lamisil.

Seventh thought: If it's not any of the above, then she could have alopecia areata. This can be a very serious 'disease' or virus. Doctors don't really know. I personally know of people that have had stress and lost every hair on their body. I know a gal that had four girls. One day she woke up and her hair fell out in clumps. By week's end, every hair on her body left her and has never returned. She draws her eyebrows on and wears fake eye lashes. Another teen's mother had died abruptly in a car accident. The doctors think the stress made all of her eyelashes and eyebrows fall out. Later, her hair fell out in wierd patches.

Eighth thought, check her hair brush. I had a client that had cracked her plastic round hair brush causing a long crack that just lifted up a smidge. This 'crack line' was sharp enough to literally saw her hair off as she dried her hair.

Ninth thought, has she been near a fire? I've lost my own hair three time by being too close to heat. 1st: stove. The oven door blasted too hot of air when I opened it and my bangs and top of my hair melted. 2nd, blow dryer in a hotel was shooting sparks and burnt my hair off in wads. 3rd, I was burning a fire-ant hill outside and it exploded causing a huge rush of fire. No bangs again. (This was so stupid of me!)

There are any number of things that it could be. Knowing that loss of hair can also be the sign of numerous other diseases, you must take her to a doctor asap. Take the clumps of hair with you.

Please keep us posted.

Here is a link that might be useful: alopecia areata

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 10:00PM
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Don't worry about driving your pediatritian crazy. Your daughter's health is more important and you pay him to ease your fears. Sometimes it takes several visits or tests to find out what's wrong. If you don't get the answers you want, try another Dr. It must be so scary for her.

My daughter lost great amounts of hair in clumps, but hers was due to traumatic stress. It's amazing what the body does.

Good luck with your appointment, let us know what you find out.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 11:19PM
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I lost almost all my hair 10 years ago due to traumatic stress. It fell in clumps. It took 6 months to grow back again and has been healthy and strong ever since. Put your daughter on a daily multivitamin if you haven't done so already. Call a dermatologist (or ask the pediatrician to refer her to a dermatologist) ASAP and take her in for a scalp examination. And make sure that she has a high protein diet as her body will need a lot of it to regrow the hair. I am sure that it will all grow back again. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 3:02AM
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Angc, I'm thinking that perhaps you are getting freaked out by some of these potential diagnoses. In both stress-related alopecia and alopecia arreata, the hair comes out at the root, it does not break off. Therefore it is very unlikely that either of these is what is affecting your daughter. Do take her to her healthcare provider asap, but please don't lose sleep over something that is most likely a common childhood infection with a fairly straightforward treatment. Think horses before zebras!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 10:54AM
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Well, she's seeing her peditrician in the morning. I've been taking some measures just in case it is a contagious disease. We all share a hairbrush, which is a bad idea anyway, so I tossed it and bought each of us a new brush and comb and labeled them. I stripped her bed, washed the sheets and pillowcasese in hot water and bleach. Also, no sharing beds or pillows for now. Ditto for hats and coats with hoods.
SheriLyn-thansk for taking the time to post all that information. I can say a definite no to 1-3,9 a maybe to 4-6 (she's supersentive and easily stressed. It's an issue we're dealing with right now).
susanfrip- You're right, of course. Don't we always think the worst and pray for the best. It'll be good to get her in to the Ped and see what's happening.
Our Ped is very accomodating. She's a great lady. The fears I have about being a nuisance come wholly from me.
I'll check in again after the appointment. Thanks again, everyone.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 2:43PM
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DD had her appointment this morning. Her Ped is sure she's pulling her hair without realizing it. Her explanation was that when people lose their hair due to disease, the patch is smooth and shiny, not stubbly. She doesn't suspect ringworm (no flakes- other than mid dry scalp or inflammation) or her thyroid (no test, but she doesn't have any other symptoms).
For nearly a year, DD used to chew her hair whenever she was nervous or bored so she does have a tendency for that sort of behavoir. We finally broke the habit, and I'd forgotten about it. I used to pull out my eyelashes when I was stressed. I didn't even realize I was doing it until someone pointed it out in high school.
Anyway, I had an idea that she could wear a basebal cap while watching tv or on the computer (Ped said this is most likely when it happens). DD thinks it sounds fun. She'll be home for a long Christmas break so we can keep an eye on her as well. Her Ped wants her back in in 4-6 weeks unless the loss increases.
Poor thing, she's stressed enough without worrying about being stressed. Good thing she's a Hat Girl!
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 12:35PM
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Poor kid! Having to stress about being stressed! But it sounds like she's got a sense of humor about it and we know she's got a great Mom supporting her. Hopefully that'll be all it takes. ;-)

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 3:16PM
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OK, that's a relief. You handled this very well. Making a cool game out of wearing a hat is just great. I hope it sets her on the path to relax and break the habit. Maybe a little moisture in the form of conditioning treatments would help, and would also make her feel very special and pampered. Maybe for you too!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 7:57PM
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Angc, Sending huge """HUGS>>>. May I also suggest that you talk to your daughter more and try to be in her presence as much as possible during this 'discovery time' trying to find out when she pulls her hair. I would want to know what causes her spirit angst. Maybe you could help diffuse whatever is causing her tension.

Common times are when she's studying, watching a TV, or reading, etc. If this is true, then maybe getting her involved with cross stitching while watching TV would help. She's not too young! Studying with a group situations will help you 'keep watch' so she can become aware.

One client I had would pull her hair as she drove. Bald patches in her crown and behind her ear.

And don't be squeamish about this, it can work: Consider a short hair style for awhile. It will 'remove' long temptations. It's not a cure-all, but it makes the hand movements more conspicuous so even she can become aware of her actions.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2005 at 12:35PM
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