Hair Loss and Teenage Girls: What Parents Need to Know
Self-confidence is important in the teenage years when hormone changes lead to sensitive emotions and a rapidly changing body. Adjusting to these changes can be challenging for many teens but even more so for teens who experience unexplained hair loss. Understand and discuss the causes of hair loss with a dermatologist, as this can help keep your teenager’s hair healthy and her self-esteem positive.
If your teen eats a steady diet of fast food and sugary snacks, she may not be getting the proper nutrition necessary to promote healthy hair growth. Eating fatty and sugary items often leads to cravings. Craving unhealthy foods takes away the desire for healthier foods necessary to supply adequate nutrition.
If your teen enjoys frequent trips to the local coffee shop or mall, she may be getting a lot of her calorie content from sugary drinks or lattes. Fruit smoothies may sound and look healthy, but they often contain high amounts of hidden sugar and are not a good substitute for the high vitamins found in fresh fruit.
Trichotillomania is a psychological condition where the sufferer pulls out strands of hair, eyelashes, or eyebrows. You may notice substantial bald spots over the scalp and eyebrows or a widening where the hair parts. Those who suffer from this condition often report a feeling of release when the hair is plucked out.
Pulling out the hair can be intentional or may occur without your teen realizing it, such as when she is busy watching TV or reading. Teens may hide this condition from their parents for fear of getting into trouble or because they feel ashamed.
Hormonal Issues and Medications
Well-balanced hormones help the body function properly, but imbalanced hormones can trigger emotional and physical problems. Stress is not uncommon in the lives of teens and can cause hormonal fluctuations that may lead to more than average hair loss. Hormonal imbalances can be triggered by external stressors like peer pressure and family conflicts or by internal stressors, such as a girl’s monthly menstrual cycle or the onset of puberty.
The use of birth control pills to prevent pregnancy or to eliminate teenage acne can lead to thinning hair. The side-effects of beta-blocker drugs and anticoagulant medications can also trigger hair loss.
Styling and Styling Products
Over-styling can wreak havoc on teenage hair. Excessive blow drying can cause the hair to become brittle and damaged. Frequent use of hair ties and rubber bands cause consistent pulling and tugging on the hair and can lead to weakened hair strands that fall out.
Hairsprays, gels, and treatments can be harsh on sensitive scalps and can trigger hair loss. Your teen may also bleach or dye their hair with products containing harsh chemicals that aren’t conducive to healthy hair.
Ruling out medical causes of hair loss is important. Hair loss can be a symptom of thyroid disease, diabetes, and certain infections. These conditions may cause excessive fatigue, or your teen may complain about other physical symptoms.
Alopecia areata can cause circular areas of hair loss over the scalp and may also affect other areas of the body. Immunosuppressive diseases can affect any part of the body and lead to loss of hair. Health conditions that involve the skin may also affect the scalp and interfere with hair growth.
The teen years should be an exciting time for your child, and developing a healthy self-esteem is an important part of the maturing process. If your teenager notices excessive loss of hair, a visit to the dermatologist is the first step. A dermatologist can help you find out the cause and discuss the treatment options available. Contact East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC, to schedule a consultation regarding your teen’s hair loss concerns.