Alopecia Areata in Children

Alopecia areata occurs in males and females of all ages, but onset often occurs in childhood. 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. NAAF has many programs and resources 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 their appearance is insignificant to themselves and theur peers. The child's hair loss may be an interesting anomaly, and nothing more; peers will most likely 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, they now face new problems of adjustment. Peers are becoming a more significant part of their 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 themself and has at least one skill they enjoy and are passionate about, the odds are increased that they will deal successfully with these difficulties.

Alopecia Areata in School

It is important to educate your child’s administration, teachers and fellow students about alopecia areata. Though the autoimmune disease is common, many people still do not know about alopecia areata. It is important to stress, particularly in a classroom setting, that your child is not sick, that alopecia areata is not contagious, and that alopecia areata will not limit a child from doing all of the activities that other children do.

The National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) developed a Parents Support Pack to help parents, teachers and administrators educate students about alopecia areata. Click here to learn more!