We often meet mothers who complain that the growth of their child is very slow. The child is introvert, socially withdrawn and gets easily tired. Mostoften such children have extensive hair loss which is quite unusualfor the age group. Many times this is brushed off as just a nutritiondeficiency. Treating such children with general tonics does show alittle improvement but with frequent relapses.
Digging deeperin to personal history we often notice frequent stomach upsets,irregular bowel movements, indigestion, loss of appetite, stickybulky motions are common issues with such children.
Not only inchildren but even with adults it is seen very frequently and thecommon reasons thought of are irregular food habits due to longworking hours, eating junk food and stress. Again, a constantcomplaint of hair fall is common.
Though notincorrect, lack of nutrition the only reason for such problems. Somemajor gastrointestinal illnesses may manifest in very early stagethrough simple hair fall which apparently being blamed on wrong dietand irregular bowels.
In ourpractice we have seen a child as young as 10 years with complain ofexcessive hair fall who developed a shiny bald patch eventually. Thechild presented with severe hair fall almost one year prior to diagnosis of Crohn’s disease (a type of inflammatory boweldisease).As the child had history of indigestion frequently with lossof appetite he was thought to have a lot of nutritional deficiencies.But, despite of irregular food habits his nutrition profile wasnormal. Looking in to his routine a suspicion of any exposure to anychemical or toxin was ruled out.
During thecourse of treatment, the child started showing symptoms like gettingtired easily, which was reasoned due the mild anemia he developed. The child also started being socially retracted, which was thought tobe due to the hair loss problem he suffered from, till the time hestarted showing more severe symptoms such as low grade, mild fever,mouth ulcers and weight loss.
After thediagnosis was made as Crohn’s disease the child was given aspecific treatment for the disease which also helped to improve hispatchy hair loss. Relapse of the disease, brought the recurrence ofthe patch, which confirmed the relation of the disease and hair loss.So hair loss can also be considered as one of the symptoms of the Crohn’s disease apart from the common symptoms related todigestion.
Sometimes,even the treatment of disease can cause hair loss. The treatment of Crohn’s disease is using drugs like Methotrexate which cancause a lot of stress to system and in turn can cause alopecia.
Though notoften hair loss can be a prelude to a major disease, hence it iswiser not to brush off your hair loss as a minor problem.