Pediatric Dermatology Consult

What is your diagnosis?

A 5-year-old female is brought to clinic for hair loss. The mother reports that when styling her daughter's hair, she has noticed areas of hair thinning, especially at the temples and at the occiput. The mother denies scale, pruritus, and erythema. The patient reports that her scalp does not hurt. She has never had a haircut because her hair hasn't grown long enough to cut. There is no history of specific bald spots. The patient has no personal history of psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, or autoimmune disease. No picking has been noted, and there is no history of compulsive behaviors or anxiety. The patient's mother has a history of Graves disease. The mother reports that the patient's older sister may have had hair thinning when she was younger as well, but no longer has thin hair.

5-year-old female has areas of hair thinning, particularly at the temples

The patient was previously seen by another provider who prescribed hydrocortisone 2.5% ointment, which the mother has been applying nightly without improvement.
The child is otherwise medically well and thriving, with no recent change in activity level and with growth parameters consistently around the 75th percentile for height and weight. On physical exam, the patient has blondish, fine hair with areas of poorly demarcated hair thinning at the left temple and at the occiput. The hair remaining at the occiput is normal in texture. There are no areas of complete hair loss. There is no scale, erythema, or abnormal pigmentation, and no cervical or occipital adenopathy. The patient has intact eyebrows and eyelashes.

What is your diagnosis?

Alopecia areata

Telogen effluvium

Loose anagen hair syndrome

Anagen effluvium

Trichotillosis (trichotillomania)


LAHS is self-limited and does not necessitate treatment. However, if patients or parents feel there is significant disease burden, perhaps with poor effects on quality of life or with psychosocial impairment, treatment with minoxidil 5% solution has been studied with some success reported in the literature.1,8,9

Ms. Natsis is a medical student at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Eichenfield is chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. He is vice chair of the department of dermatology and professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego. Ms. Natsis and Dr. Eichenfield had no relevant financial disclosures. Email them at


1. Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(4):501-6.

2. Int J Trichology. 2010;2(2):96-100.

3. Pediatric Dermatol. 2016:33(50):507-10.

4. Dermatol Clin. 1986;14:745-51.

5. Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(10):1123-8.

6. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(9):WE01-3.

7. Am J Psychiatry. 2016;173(9):868-74.

8. Australas J Dermatol. 2018;59:e286-e287.

9. Pediatr Dermatol. 2014;31:389-90.


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