Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss. It affects roughly 6.8 million people in the United States.In the majority of cases, hair falls out in small patches around the size of a quarter. For most people, the hair loss is nothing more than a few patches, though in some cases it can be more extreme. Sometimes, it can lead to the complete loss of hair on the scalp (alopecia totalis) or, in extreme cases, the entire body (alopecia universalis). The condition can affect anyone regardless of age and gender, though most cases occur before the age of 30. Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com
Lindsay, our community director and a Childlife Specialist, offers several different ways to explain this to children of different ages.
You may have noticed that sometimes grown up men are bald or are missing hair on some places on top of their heads. This can happen to grown up women, too. When it happens in grown ups, it can be because baldness runs in the family or because their hair is thinning with age. Sometimes, not nearly as often, this can happen to kids and young people too for what seems like no reason at all. This is called alopecia.
There are different kinds of alopecia. Sometimes a person will just loose a little bit of hair on their head and other times they might lose all of their hair, even their eyebrows and eyelashes. There are some medicines that can help alopecia, but they don’t all always help, all of the time. It is ok to try the medicines or it is ok not to try the medicines. Sometimes the hair comes back all by itself.
Most of the time alopecia is something that can happen on its own, without the body having any other needs for medicine. But it is a good idea to see a doctor and have a check up when alopecia starts to make sure that the rest of the body is healthy and well.
One way to be a good friend to someone with alopecia, is to be kind to them when you see their hair changing and to let them talk to you about their hair or hair loss when they feel like it.
Most of the time, we think of baldness or hair loss as happening to older people or people who are using chemotherapy (a special medicine) to fight cancer. Alopecia, is hair loss that can happen to anyone at any age. It is not the same as the hair loss that occurs from the medicine used to treat cancer and kids who have alopecia do not have cancer. In fact, most of the time with alopecia there is no other medical need that the person has. Its just that they have lost their hair.
There are three different kinds of alopecia.
- Alopecia areata is what it is called when a person just loses some hair in some spots or patches.
- Alopecia totalis is when a person loses all of the hair on their head.
- Alopecial Universalis is when they lose all of their hair: on their head, their eyebrows and eyelashes, even on their arms and legs and their fingernails too.
Alopecia is no one’s fault. Its just something that happens sometimes in some people’s bodies. Doctors think that alopecia comes from mixed signals in the immune system. The immune system is our body’s germ fighting team. The cells in our immune system work hard to fight and kill any germs (bacteria or viruses) that make it past our defense system inside our body.
But sometimes in some bodies, the immune system germ fighters can get a little confused about what things in our bodies are germs and what things are not. Doctors think that with alopecia, the immune system might be getting confused and treating some hair follicles (the little itty bitty tiny tunnels our hair grows from) like germs. They think this is because hair changes and grows really fast, like many germs.
If someone has alopecia, their doctor might you to have a blood test (or some labs drawn) just to check that everything else in their immune system is going just right. There are some medicines that can help alopecia, but they don’t all always help, all of the time. It is ok to try the medicines or it is ok not to try the medicines. Sometimes the hair will grow back all on its own. A
kid dealing with alopecia might try wearing hats, wigs, wraps or other accessories. One way to be a good friend to someone with hair loss would be to kind to them if they want to wear a hat, or a wig, or if they want to go without. Think about what things you are going to say or ask about their hair BEFORE you say them or ask them. Then you can decide how it might make you feel if you were in their shoes.
Alopecia means hair loss. It is different from the kind of hair loss that happens from chemotherapy (a group of drugs most commonly used to treat cancer) or from aging. Alopecia is thought to be an autoimmune condition where the immune system (the system of cells in our body that fights bacteria and viruses) for some reason, attacks the hair follicles causing the hair to fall out.
Sometimes the hair falls out in patches(alopecia areata). Sometimes all of the hair on the head falls out (alopecia totalis) and sometimes all of the hair on the entire body falls out (alopecia universalis). In the past, people used to blame stress or nervousness for hair loss. However, doctors have discovered through research that alopecia is not caused by stress. (After all, think of all of the stressed people you know with full heads of hair!) Alopecia is no one’s fault.
For some people that have alopecia, they may find that it gets worse when they are stressed, but that is true of many things that can act up in our bodies. (Eczema, cardiac issues, mental health disorders, blood pressure, for a few examples). There are different treatments that a dermatologist can prescribe to help with alopecia, but they all seem to work differently on different people.
Often, it can take a series of trial and error to find a treatment that works for alopecia on each person. Some people may choose not to treat their alopecia at all. That is ok too! It is something that each family needs to figure out for themselves. In addition to medicines, people dealing with alopecia may decide to wear wigs, hats or head wraps in order to protect their scalp or to achieve the style they want.
If they have alopecia areata they may decide to try some different cool hair dos that hide their bald patches or give them a cool asymmetrical hair style. All of these are a-ok and are healthy ways to cope with having alopecia.
One way you can be a good friend to someone with alopecia is listen to them express how they are feeling about their hairloss, be supportive and be ready to learn. There are lots of things that the hairs on our body do that you might never have thought of! Someone dealing with alopecia universalis may have challenges with their eyes watering because they don’t have eyebrows and eyelashes to protect them from the elements, for example. Being aware of these challenges can help you to be kind and empathetic.
If you have a child with alopecia and you are trying to help them formulate an explanation for peers or siblings, we would love to help, using details about their specific diagnosis and experience. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We had an amazing time celebrating the launch of our brand new SKIN DISCOVERY BOXES, a very special collaboration with our friends at CeraVe! CeraVe’s tireless pursuit of therapeutic skincare for all is truly more than skin deep and we couldn’t be more thankful. We celebrated in style thanks to our friends at Star Cinema …
A Children’s House for the Soul believes that it takes a village to support a child and family impacted by skin disease and birthmarks and that we are all better together.
Open House and Ribbon Cutting/Bring A Children’s House Home: On June 5th we began a very exciting new chapter of our A Children’s House story in the form of opening up our new beautiful space to serve children and teenagers with skin conditions and birthmarks and their families. This space includes a salon, a library & craft space, a teen room, and more! We also debuted our incredible new custom mural from up and coming local artist Eli Pallaert.
Our Family Trivia night was oh so much fun, and a huge success! We had so much fun getting to reconnect with all our friends and enjoy some laughs while snacking out on pizza and snowcones!
In honor of Vascular Birthmark Awareness Month, our childlife specialist Lindsay O’Sullivan had a great conversation with Jose about growing up with his special masterpiece skin!
In this interview, Ally shares about her experiences growing up with Ichthyosis. Ally shares how: Meeting other kids with special skin can help kids to feel less isolated and give them a very special sense of comradery and understanding. Parents don’t have to do everything perfectly to be the perfect parent for their child and …
What a wonderful time to relax, enjoy friendly company, and share their hearts on being a mama to a kiddo or teen with special skin. It was truly so special! These mamas were made a masterpiece!
Vascular birthmarks are very common in children. These birthmarks are made of blood vessels in the skin and can occur anywhere on the body. They may be pink or red in color, blue or purplish, flat or raised. Since they are vascular, sometimes they will feel warm to touch and may change in color with …
We have some exciting updates about our Capital Campaign! Learn about our short and long term plans for our own space.
You Can’t Teach What Has No History “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of …
In honor of Ectodermal Dysplasia Awareness month in February, we sat down with two of our dearest friends Zach and his mama Susan! Zach is an avid golfer, an Aggie, and is affected by Ectodermal Dysplasia. Susan and Zach teach us about ED and the importance of finding community. They also had helpful tips and …
Join us for a fun and inspiring interview with this incredible lady Ana Maria! Ana Maria Triana is 15 years old and the author of How to Conquer Alopecia Universalis. Ana Maria gives heartfelt advice, shares wisdom beyond her years, and will leave you feeling full of compassion and confidence. A Children’s House for the …
In honor of the upcoming National Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) Awareness week, we wanted to share this great piece from our friend, Rachael Wrobel about how her mama mothered her well, even despite the challenges of EB.
I am fortunate enough to be Mama to three little girls. Shortly after my eldest daughter’s first birthday (about 4 years ago) I noticed her hair was thinning. I was told by many it was just typical baby hair loss until it just couldn’t be described at “typical” any longer.
After the last several months of this pandemic, I think we are all well-versed in how important it is to wash our hands so that we don’t spread germs. But with all this hand washing and sanitizing, dry skin, eczema breakouts, and contact dermatitis have become even more troublesome. What can we do about it?
Join us for a quick and very insightful video interview with Dr. Alana Kennedy-Nasser as she shares with us how to keep kids safe as they go back to school in-person and how to keep kids developmentally “on track” as they attend school virtually.
What questions do you have for back to school content experts? Read on for some brilliant questions and answers from this super smart teacher mama, Lacy Cunningham, M.A.Ed.
Online learning can be a fun experience filled with lots of great experiences; but as humans, we were meant to interact with one another and have companionship. How can we develop ways to ensure kids stay engaged while learning in a different setting?
This year, the normal first day of school jitters will likely be accompanied by some new concerns that we have not encountered before. Lindsey O’Sullivan, Child Life Specialist, provides guidance on how to navigate these conversations with your child.
As we prepare for school to begin, those of us that are sending our kiddos slowly back out into the world may find ourselves explaining what has changed (again) in the last few months. Dr. Chad Brandt, a therapist who specializes in anxiety in children and teens, offers us a few guideposts for talking about the coronavirus with children.