Alopecia Areata in Children
Alopecia areata is a common condition that occurs in males and females of all ages, buy young persons are affected most often. The alopecia areata experience varies with age and can be especially difficult, for the patient as well as the parent, when it presents itself during childhood. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation has many programs created to ease the burden of the entire family when a child is diagnosed with alopecia areata.
Children under the age of five
Children under the age of five react very little to their alopecia areata, having very little impact if any. The preschool child is so busy exploring their world, acquiring skills and gaining independence, that his appearance is insignificant to himself and his peers. His hairloss may be an interesting anomaly, and nothing more; most likely his peers will not take much notice to this difference.
Children ages six through twelve
Between the ages of six and twelve, children have gained experience and interacted with enough people to grasp the idea that views of the world differ, and that it is important to pay attention to what others think and feel. While this ability to see things as others do helps children become more empathetic and considerate, it also tends to make children more self-conscious. Children at this stage of development are much more concerned about how others view them, how they may differ from others, and whether others might be making fun of them. Since children at this age have become so aware of individual differences, they unfortunately are more likely to poke fun at those who don’t’ fit their definition of ‘normal’.
Even if a child has had alopecia areata since infancy, he now faces new problems of adjustment. Peers are becoming a more significant part of his life and the desire to ‘fit in’ is becoming stronger. Even a child with a very healthy self-concept may feel threatened. However if a child feels good about herself and has at least one skill she enjoys and is passionate about, the odds are increased that she will deal successfully with these difficulties.