Common causes of paediatric alopecia

Aust J Gen Pract. 2018 Oct;47(10):692-696. doi: 10.31128/AJGP-11-17-4416.


Background: Hair loss in children aged 12 years and younger is most often due to a benign or self-limiting condition. This article presents a review of the assessment of common causes of paediatric alopecia and outlines the implications for general practice.

Objective: The objective of this article is to help readers systematically assess a child presenting with alopecia, manage the most common diseases of paediatric alopecia and identify patients requiring referral to a dermatologist.

Discussion: The most common causes of paediatric alopecia are largely non-scarring. These include tinea capitis, alopecia areata, trauma due to traction alopecia or trichotillomania, and telogen effluvium. Scarring alopecia can also occur in childhood and requires scalp biopsy and further investigation by a dermatologist. General practitioners should treat clear cases of tinea capitis. Referral to a dermatologist is necessary in cases when the diagnosis is uncertain, treatment is failing or there is evidence of scarring alopecia.

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / etiology*
  • Alopecia / physiopathology
  • Alopecia Areata / complications
  • Alopecia Areata / physiopathology
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking / methods
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Tinea Capitis / complications
  • Tinea Capitis / physiopathology
  • Trichotillomania / complications
  • Trichotillomania / physiopathology