Helping Kids with Hair Loss
There are many reasons why children might experience hair loss, but the most common of these are hair loss as a result of chemotherapy for cancer treatment, and hair loss as a result of early onset alopecia. Alopecia is a condition that causes your immune system to attack your healthy hair follicles, resulting in either patchy or complete hair loss. This usually happens over a relatively short period of time.
Experiencing hair loss during childhood can be a difficult and emotionally complicated process, both for the child at the centre of the trauma and for their families. It can feel incredibly cruel that your beautiful baby has been robbed of their hair, and often their health and their confidence at the same time. However, it’s important to remember that hair loss is not the end of the world and there are things you can do to minimize the impact of this for your child.
If your child is experiencing hair loss then here are some tips to help them:
Talk And Build Confidence
Researchers have found that there is a strong link between our sense of confidence and identity and our hair. This is particularly true for young girls, who use their hair to form a picture of who they are. Losing these can be very difficult to cope with, leading to increased occurrences of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
As a parent, it is important that these concerns are acknowledged and understood, rather than brushed under the carpet. Provide a safe space where your child can talk about their feelings around their hair loss, and acknowledge that all of their feelings are valid. Work hard together to boost their self-confidence (whether that involves buying a new dress or finding a wig that fits) and find role models who your child admires for what they can do, rather than how they look. Appearance should not be seen as anyone’s most important attribute, and this is particularly true for children who don’t feel they look the same as their peers.
Wear A Wig
When suffering from hair loss, many children will choose to hide this by wearing a wig. Modern wig technology means that wigs now look incredibly realistic and fit like a second skin. None would ever need to know your child is wearing a wig unless they choose to tell them, which may help to boost their confidence and be useful in the battle against the negative mental health impact that often accompanies hair loss in children.
Wearing a wig or head covering will help with so much more than just aesthetic concerns. It can also be beneficial for your child’s physical health. During the summer wearing a head covering will protect the delicate skin on your scalp from the sun’s harmful UV rays. We also lose a considerable amount of body head throughout head, meaning that no matter what the time of year, wearing a wig could help to protect you from feeling the cold. This is particularly important if your child is undergoing cancer treatment, as sensitivity to the cold is one of the side effects of this.
Engage With Your Child
Unfortunately, bullying is very a very common experience for children who are struggling with hair loss. Children can be cruel about those that are different or struggling with experiences they don’t understand, and rather than talk to the child who is different they lash out at them instead. As a parent, it is important to be aware of any opportunities for bullying and to make sure you know exactly what is going on in their lives, so that you can provide support when they need it.
Parenting a child experiencing hair loss can be tricky, because many of your former roles and rules will go out the window. If your child doesn’t want to go outside to play for example, then find something that you can play and enjoy together inside, rather than force them out into the world as you might have pre-hair loss. You need to listen to, and validate, your child’s feelings. And work together to find solutions to any of the problems they face. You are not only your child’s main advocate, you are part of their team, and they will need you now more than ever.