There’s no denying this has been a tough year for families with young children. The pressures of working from home, whilst simultaneously trying to homeschool and entertain multiple children, has impacted on our mental and physical health.
But while we’ve talked before about the impact Covid and lockdown-related stress is having on adult’s hair, we haven’t discussed is the effect it is having on children.
One little girl, nine-year-old Tabitha from Totnes in Devon, holds lockdown and the lengthy school closures early this year to blame for her recent hair loss.
The specific type of hair loss Tabitha suffers from is known as alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune condition which causes patchy hair loss across the scalp and sometimes on the body too.
Tabitha first noticed a patch of her hair was missing earlier this year, just a few weeks after the start of lockdown. By the end of June 70% of her hair was gone and she decided to take drastic action.
Along with her mother, Becca, Tabitha decided to shave her head and, in doing so, raise money for the charity Alopecia UK. Between them, they raised nearly £500 to fund research into alopecia areata. But Becca also donated her hair to The Little Princess Trust, a charity that makes wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy.
Stress and hair loss
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system decides to go into attack on normal, healthy cells. In this case the hair follicles. But we still don’t know for sure what causes it.
Many alopecia sufferers report that the condition has affected them at times of particular stress in their lives. Other hair loss conditions, like telogen effluvium, can be triggered by stress. So Tabitha’s hypothesis, that her hair loss was caused by the stress of lockdown and not seeing her friends, might be right.
It is worth reminding yourself, though, not to get into a vicious cycle where stress and hair loss are concerned. As Amy Johnson from Alopecia UK explained to the Mirror:
“It is important to remember that while stress may be a trigger, and we just don’t know, hair loss can be a difficult thing to go through and it’s OK to feel stressed about it.”
Children and hair loss
Hair loss is difficult at any stage of life, especially in extreme forms like alopecia areata. And it can be particularly hard for children. In Tabitha’s case her mum decided to support her by shaving her head as well, providing a sense of solidarity.
If you’re worried your child might be losing their hair, for whatever reason, there are people you can talk to. Either, to help try to resolve the hair loss, or to provide emotional and psychological support for both you and your child.
For more information, please call us on 07884 808552.