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Hair Loss/8 yr old recent hair braiding - hair falling


QUESTION: Hi Dr. Panagotacos,

My family recently travelled down South and my 8 year old daughter had a full head of braids done.  She had them in for 2 weeks and when we took them out this past Thursday I was shocked to see how much hair fell out.  She has thin hair to begin with and I was in total shock to see this as we have never done braids before.  I understand that the normal amount of daily hair had accumulated within the braids and fell out all at once when we took the braids out and I've come to terms with that.  What I'm concerned about is that it has now been 5 days since then and her hair is still falling.  It's not coming out in clumps or anything but is falling a lot more than normal.  This morning I counted 23 hairs on her pillow.  She has thin hair and not much of it to begin with and I don't think I'm overseeing things but it looks thinner than before.  I just want the hair to stop falling.  I'm am in panic mode at the moment and don't know what to do.

How long will her hair continue to fall?  At what point do I worry and what can I do to help strengthen her hair in the meantime.

Distressed Mom wishing we had never done braids."

ANSWER: Your daughter is experiencing a shed called a Telogen Effluvium due to stress put on the hair follicles. These hairs are falling out in the hair's end stage or Telogen Phase of the hair growth cycle. If she were to have continued to wear braids she would then develop Traction Alopecia which is a common condition found in women who either wear tight ponytails or tight braids. You can read more about this at:

The treatment for it at this stage is to minimize further stress to the hairs-- NO Braids..

This is only a temporary thinning. Every hair has a predetermined number of hair cycles which are about 5 years long. The hairs which fell out will go into their next life cycle and regrow from the same bulb. This will take 4 to 6 months to become visible. You will have to be patient. Hairs on the top of the head may have 10 or 20 life cycles. So at the worst she will have aged some of the hairs by one growth cycle and when she is 50 she her hair will be as thin as she would have been at age 55.
  My guess is the hairs will stop falling out in large amounts withing another few days to a week. It is normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs per day so don't get fixated on losing what is the normal amount per day. If it persists another week or more you could try applying 2% Rogaine one ml once or twice a day as directed on the bottle for a month or two to stimulate regrowth of the hairs which fell out.

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QUESTION: Thank you for your quick response.  I do have some follow up questions.

You suggested that if my daughter were to have continued wearing the braids she would have developed traction alopecia. How much longer did you mean? Is there a reason why you suspect telogen effluvium as opposed to traction alopecia?  My fear is the latter.  I wont dare google traction alopecia yet as I fear it will increase my worries.

What triggered all my worries to begin with was a magazine article I came across about a girl who had gone on vacation, had the braids done and lost ALL her hair after taking the braids out (they had before/after pics).  I dared not read the article as it sent me into an emotional mess so I don't know the details about her story.

My mind keeps going back to this little girl.

I have washed my daughter's hair twice since removing the braids.  I still see the "lines" on her head where the braids once were.  Is this normal too?

I can deal with what has already fallen out....just desperately wanting the shedding to stop.  I suppose I am looking for some more reassurance that she isn't going to go bald.  I'm sweeping up hair daily, not in massive amounts, but hair that was not there before this all began.

Any info is greatly appreciated.

ANSWER: Your daughter is experiencing a shed right now because the hair follicles were injured or stressed BUT most likely not injured enough to cause scarring. Scarring of the follicles and permanent hair loss happens with more braids in for a longer period than what your daughter has had. If you are still not reassured and can not wait two weeks then I suggest you have a dermatologist examine your daughter's scalp and hair to pronounce the current status is a telogen effluvium which has not evolved into traction alopecia.

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QUESTION: Thank you for your reassurance.  One last question I forgot to ask earlier.  From birth, she has always had little hair and thin hair.  Her hair takes a very long time to grow.  She has never had long hair.  Would this have an relevance to what is now transpiring?

Yes, if she naturally has fine thin hair it will be more easily damaged. So perms and dying of the hair and straightening treatments will all be more harmful if she does it than with the average person. Still, I believe she has not had enough time with these braids to cause permanent damage.

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Peter J. Panagotacos, <B>M.D.</B>


I have 30 years experience in the field of medical and surgical Hair Restoration and am Board Certified in Dermatology and Hair Restoration Surgery.


I have 30 years experience in the field of medical and surgical Hair Restoration and am Board Certified in Dermatology and Hair Restoration Surgery. More information can be found at my website

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