Hair Loss in Children and Teenagers: A Parent’s Guide
Discovering that your child has hair loss can trigger a huge mix of emotions. However, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself and instead to channel your energy into providing the love, care and emotional support that your child needs at this difficult time. This guide to hair loss in children and teenagers offers a combination of information, advice and resources to help you feel better equipped for the journey ahead.
Before I begin, there’s something important to bear in mind. Although it may be easier said than done, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Learn from the positive experiences as well as the negative, and remember that none of us get it completely right straightaway. We can only do what we feel is right.
How to Talk to Your Child About Hair Loss
It can help to let your child know that (s)he is not the only one, even if there is nobody else at school in the same situation. There are lots of alopecia support websites that will help confirm this, and which can also serve as useful sources of advice for children with hair loss and their parents. Headzup has separate sections for kids, teens and parents, with resources tailored to different age groups and requirements.
Be honest. There’s a chance that your child’s hair won’t grow back, so you don’t want to set any false expectations only to have to break the bad news later on. I won’t pretend that it’s easy, but there is lots of useful guidance on this online as well as several forums where you can discuss your concerns with other parents who are in the same situation as you.
Changing Faces is a charity for parents of children with facial and bodily disfigurements. Their website has some free guides that will help you talk to your child about his/her feelings as well as your own.
Be perceptive. Listen carefully to your child’s comments about school to detect any particular concerns. If you’re worried about bullying, the BBC has a useful guide that will help you figure out what steps to take next.
Be encouraging. Giving your child an active role in any decisions will make him/her feel more control of the hair loss rather than the other way round. Discuss the available treatments, what is involved (side effects, injections, trips to the doctors etc.), and how effective they’re likely to be, then leave the decisions to him/her.
The same goes for covering up with children’s wigs or turbans. Discuss the options with your child and the pros and cons of each. If (s)he does wish to try a wig or another item of headwear, you may wish to test the waters first by visiting a few shops alone, or shop online for a less threatening alternative.
Be knowledgeable. Learning everything you can about hair loss in children will enable you to provide the best possible information and advice whilst giving you a good insight into how your child might feel. There are lots of websites offering a wealth of useful information, including Alopecia Online, the British Institute of Dermatologists and the Children’s Alopecia Project.
Last but not least, don’t suffer in silence. Discovering that your child has hair loss is emotionally challenging for you too, so make sure you get all the support that you need. Again, Headzup is a good place to seek advice, links and discussion with other parents, but if you feel like you’re not coping, don’t hesitate to seek emotional help through your GP or a private clinic.