Posted on Thursday 31 October 2013
St John's Institute of Dermatology and Evelina London Children's Hospital have launched the UK’s first dedicated NHS hair loss clinic for children.
The national service will treat children with a range of hair loss conditions including alopecia areata, hair pulling habits, thyroid disorders, hair loss caused by vitamin deficiencies, and hair loss from chemotherapy.
Dr David Fenton, a consultant dermatologist who runs the service – which is based at St Thomas' – says: “Hair loss can affect anybody at any age, and can have a devastating effect on people’s lives. I have run an adult hair loss clinic for 30 years and have been seeing an increasing number of children recently.
“As there is no dedicated service for children with hair loss we are establishing a national referral centre. Children and their families deserve special attention because children have additional needs.
“We expect to see around 70 children and young people each year in the clinic on the St Thomas’ Hospital site. Most of our patients will come from south London but it will also be a national service, so patients can be referred to the clinic from across the country.”
Treatment for children’s hair loss usually involves creams applied to the bald areas, or a change in diet or vitamin supplements. Consultations will place particular emphasis on the emotional and psychological impact of hair loss.
The service will also help children with scalp and nail conditions, such as psoriasis that can cause unsightly pitting in the nails.
Four-year-old Jaiden from Chelmsford started losing her hair 18 months ago. Her mum Sarah said: “She had no hair at all at one point. The GP wasn’t sure what it was and we were eventually referred to Dr Fenton. Jaiden had a biopsy taken and he diagnosed her with alopecia ariata in March this year.
“The condition is normally caused by stress, but we’re not sure what set it off. Her head is now covered in hair thanks to the treatment which involved a special type of shampoo that is only available through the clinic. She’s starting school in September so it’s brilliant that her hair has come back in time, as some of her friends had started to say things about her lack of hair.
“The children’s hair loss clinic is brilliant. I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t seen Dr Fenton, as no one seemed to know what was causing her hair loss or how we could stop it.”
Patients must visit their GP for a referral to the service.