Hair beads are beautiful; they sure make little girls look cuter. But there are other ways to beautify a hairdo without putting your child at the risk of head injury when a hard fall occurs or hair loss due to a continuous pull on the growing hair.
Some hair loss is normal, but certain conditions can cause abnormal hair loss in children. In fact, just like adult hair, kids’ hair has a fairly predictable life cycle. Each strand of kids’ hair grows actively for two to six years. After that, the hair goes through a resting cycle called the telogen phase. After about three months in the telogen phase, the hair falls out and a new one grows in its place.
There are many reasons kids’ hair might fall out abnormally or excessively. These could include Tinea capitis, a type of ringworm infection; Alopecia areata, a condition when patches of the hair suddenly start falling out in a round or oval pattern and Telogen effluvium, a condition in which the hair life cycle is interrupted.
Surprisingly, Dr Bola Ogunbiyi, a consultant dermatologist, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State said use of accessories as beads and wrong hair styles are increasingly becoming reasons many children are losing their hair in the forehead.
Ogunbiyi declared: “We are seeing cases of three-year-old girls with hair loss caused by hairstyle and practices due to increasing sophistication. You see mothers making a million braids on a three-year-old or you see them put on beads. When these beads are weighed, some are up to 300 grammes each. These pull the hair from its root.
“I had a mother who came to me; the girl was three years old and had Traction alopecia, a loss of hair that gradually occurs due to an external pulling force pulling at the roots of the hair strands. She claimed the little girl insisted on doing her hair. I showed her the picture of a person with Traction alopecia who despite being 25 years now looks 50 years, asking if she will wants her child when she is 25 years to look like that.
“Unfortunately, many parents do not understand the ramification of these hairstyles and hair practices; they see these as part of looking good. But by the time they are grown up, holding responsible positions and all that, their hair is gone. “
Dr Ogunbiyi declared that when Traction alopecia occur over a long time, it will lead to permanent hair loss; adding, “Traction alopecia actually starts when the hair starts to be pulled, from consistent pulling of the hair from tight ponytails or braids. If this is continued over and over again, for 20 to 25 years, then the hair follicles get destroyed and the hair does not grow again.”
Ironically, an indicator of too tight a hair style or hair do, she said is called jerun jerun by the Yoruba. “This occurs when the hair is made too tight. “Even Yoruba know that jerun jerun is something that can cause hair loss. But people just dismiss it,” she stated.
The skin expert, remarking that hair loss cuts across all ages, declared that the increase in its incidence is becoming quite frightening.
According to her: “We see between two to three people on the average coming in to complain of hair loss at the dermatology clinic. But the incidence is far more. In a study that looked at 400 secondary and university students, 47 per cent of them had Traction alopecia. People never know it is a problem that they can seek help to tackle, they assume all cases of hair loss is due to hairstyle.”
Dr Ogunbiyi, who advocated that people begin to take sensible care of their hair, said talking to an expert on hair loss will help ensure that its exact cause is identified and tackled.
“That you are losing your hair does not mean it is restricted to having just hair disorders and diseases, there are some other serious medical disorders that start with hair loss. Also, what we are preaching is that, for women to retain their scalp hair, anything they do to their hair must not be painful. Having a headache or neck pain after a hairdo is totally wrong.”
Although head trauma is a common injury seen in young children, United States of America, doctors have also reported two recent cases of skull fracture with a surprising cause — hair beads. What’s worse, because the beads were translucent, they weren’t readily apparent on diagnostic CT scans. It was in the December issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Paediatrics.
While these injuries aren’t common by any means, hair beads are really only going to be a problem if children fall, like off a bunk bed, and fall on top of the bead. Those under two years are most at risk of sustaining a head injury because their skulls aren’t yet fully formed.
Certainly, myriad of items, including metal rods, wire, plugs, nails, kitchen utensils, writing instruments can prove dangerous under the wrong circumstances. One of them is hair accessories.