Unexplained Hair Loss in a 4-Year-Old Boy

November 22, 2016
Jonathan A. Schneider, DO

The diagnosis of trichotillomania seemed certain, despite lack of supporting history. It turned out to be about 50% wrong.

The Mysterious Case of the Boy with Unexplained Hair Loss is the final case in October’s 4-part Medical Mystery Tour Special Report by Dr Jonathan Schneider.Hair loss is not an uncommon problem in children; causes include telogen effluvium, tinea capitis, bacterial infections, traction alopecia, trichotillomania, and alopecia areata. Thyroid disorders, malnutrition, and diabetes are also found causative but are less common.The 4-year-old patient in this case is completely well other than the bald patch on the top of his head. After ruling out physical and medical etiologies, Dr Schneider had to return to the history to determine if he had overlooked a vital clue – and, he had.Dr Schneider is a primary care physician with special interests in dermatologic disease and adolescent medicine who began his career in the US Navy as a young physician. When you've complete this case, visit our large collection of his other intriguing cases.Scroll down for resources.      Resources Alves R, Grimalt R. Hair loss in children. Curr Probl Dermatol. 2015;47:55-66. doi: 10.1159/000369405. Epub 2015 Feb 20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26370644Atton AV, Tunnessen Jr, WW. Alopecia in children: the most common causes. Peds in Review. 1990;12:25-30. https://pedsinreview.aappublications.org/content/12/1/25Castelo-Soccio L. Diagnosis and management of alopecia in childhood. Ped Clin N America. 2014;61:427-442.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260873865_Diagnosis_and_Management_of_Alopecia_in_ChildrenFrança K, Rodrigues TS, Ledon J, Savas J, Chacon A. Comprehensive overview and treatment update on hair loss. J Cosmetics, Dermatol Sci App. 2013;3. DOI:10.4236/jcdsa.2013.33A1001 http://file.scirp.org/Html/1-1050143_35881.htmMendiratta V, Jabeen M. Hair loss and its management in children. Expert Rev Dermatol. 2011;6:581-590. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/753720_1Mounsey AL, Reed SW. Diagnosing and treating hair loss. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80:356-374                                              http://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/0815/p356.pdf