We commonly know of hair loss happening in males in their 40s or 50s, or in females who are postpartum or have experienced menopause. We are familiar with the thinning of hair and receding hairline that we commonly see in an already aged face or body, and somehow can accept this as a normal part of ageing. However, hair loss actually can also happen in teenagers! So, what are some of the reasons for teenage hair loss? In this article, we will go through some of the early signs and symptoms of teenage hair loss, as well as some of the causes of teenage hair loss and hair loss treatment in Singapore.
Teenage hair loss can be a debilitating condition. Not so much physically, as it is not something that physically produces pain nor physically limits a person from performing their normal activities of daily living. It is debilitating in the sense that it can affect a teenager’s self-esteem and mood, as this is the main period of their lives where they are figuring out their values, likes and dislikes, as well as interests, hobbies, and long-term goals. Social validation of their peers and superiors can matter a lot to them during this stage as they are still finding their way in this world and need the support of people around them. Having hair loss during this sensitive period is no small thing, and there are some things we need to keep an eye out for when it comes to teenage hair loss.
What Are The Early Signs & Symptoms Of Teenage Hair Loss?
It is actually normal to lose up to 50-100 strands of hair a day. Sometimes it may look like a female loses more hair than a male, but that is usually because a female’s hair is typically longer in length and 100 long hairs on the floor looks a lot more than 100 short hairs! However, there are some early signs and symptoms of teenage hair loss to look out for.
Firstly, hair loss that occurs from medical conditions can look like:
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), thyroid, or diabetic issues can look like diffuse hair loss that involves the entire scalp rather than discrete areas; Hair appears uniformly sparse (general thinning); Hair on the head is thinner while hair on the face is coarser
- Ringworm causing hair loss on the scalp looks like a ‘ring’ of hair loss, along with itchiness
- Alopecia areata looks like one or more small, round bald patches on the scalp that can get bigger
Hair loss due to hormonal changes in males can look like:
- Hair loss beginning above the temples, looking like a receding hairline
- Hair loss at the crown/top of the scalp, like a circle
- Loss of hair spreads to connect the forehead to crown, leaving the rim of hair around the head (sides and rear of the hair remains, resembling a ‘Hippocrates wreath’)
Hair loss due to hormonal changes in females can look like:
- Hair thinning at the top and crown of the scalp
- A widening through the centre hair part (‘Christmas tree pattern’)
- Usually, the front hairline remains unaffected and rarely progresses to total or near total baldness, as it may in men
Also Read: How To Treat Teenage Hair Loss?
What Are The Causes Of Teenage Hair Loss?
1. Hormonal factors
Similar to adults, androgenetic alopecia can happen in teenagers since it has a large genetic contribution, especially in males. It can begin during the teenage years. In fact, 25% of male pattern baldness happens below the age of 21, but it can usually be controlled well if caught at an early stage.
2. Systemic medical issues or medications
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common female health condition causing the female body to produce excessive levels of male sex hormones like testosterone. Although it is normal to find testosterone in the female body, having too much can lead to symptoms like disrupted menstrual cycles, acne, and hair thinning. Teenage girls who begin to take birth control pills may notice hair thinning or loss, due to the hormonal changes that the pill causes. This is often easily remedied by trialling a different contraceptive pill.
Thyroid conditions in teenagers can also cause hair loss. Paradoxically the hair loss may also follow the medication treatment for the thyroid issues. Lupus, an autoimmune condition caused by your immune system targeting your tissues and organs, can also cause symptoms of hair loss alongside joint pain, fatigue, and skin rashes. The prevalence of childhood lupus in Asia was 6.3-19.3 per 100,000 children with the mean age at diagnosis of 8.6-13.5 years.
Alopecia areata is also an autoimmune disorder that affects about 1 in 50 people at any one point in life. A person’s own immune system starts to damage hair follicles. It often begins in childhood, but the hair usually grows back within a year.
3. Psychological medical issues
Trichotillomania, known as unconscious hair plucking or hair pulling, is a psychological disorder where a person feels the overwhelming need to pull out their own hair. This can be the hair on their head, eyebrows, or even eyelashes. It is considered as an addiction, and can form as a habit in childhood due to a child’s way of dealing with stress or anxiety, or a chemical imbalance in the brain similar to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Over time, the hair follicles get progressively damaged, and can lead to baldness in teenagers and young adults, since the hair is normally pulled until it is totally uprooted, leaving patches of thin or no hair. Symptoms typically appear between the ages of 10 to 13.
4. Inadequate nutrition & Stress
Diet plays a big role in teenage hair loss reasons. Not having enough nutrition (malnutrition) can be caused by not eating enough food with balanced nutrition, inadequate calorie intake, or having eating disorders. Experiencing an illness, traumatic event, or prolonged chronic stress (from their environment such as school or family life) can also lead to teenage hair loss. Because the hair we see on our heads has actually taken months to grow, a person might not notice any disruption of the hair growth cycle until months after poor dieting or stressful events. This type of hair loss usually corrects itself.
You Don’t Need to Be Older to Get Started
Whatever the age, hair loss can be distressing and worrisome. Whether you are male or female, older or younger, hair loss does not discriminate. Contact us today to book an appointment with one of our trusted professionals to learn more about teenage hair loss and how we can help your teenager with their hair loss issues!