The Little-Known Medical Reason Why Your Kid's Hair Isn't Growing

The condition is "probably underreported," experts say.
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We’ve written before at HuffPost UK about the reasons why your child could have dark circles under their eyes.

But what about kids whose hair just... refuses to grow past a certain length? Does that mean anything, and should you be worried?

Of course, genes and stress could have a role to play. But the International Journal of Trichology (JoT) says that it could also belie a benign condition called “short anagen syndrome” (SAS for short).

How can I tell if my child has that?

Though the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology says SAS seems “uncommon,” they add that it’s also “probably underreported.”

The condition is “clinically characterised by persistently short fine hair since birth, due to a decreased duration of the anagen phase,” the JoT says. “The common complaint is that the hair does not grow long and that it has never been cut.”

“Telogen effluvium [rapid hair loss] is also a common complaint,” they add. Trichologists say that hair which does not grow longer than 6cm “makes the diagnosis.”

It’s usually spotted by parents when their children are around two to four years of age, the paper says, and happens because the hair strands do not spend enough time in the anagen phase.

“Although the hair shaft is normal without signs of breakage the patients are not able to grow long hair and present with increased shedding,” JoT writes.

Most documented cases have involved blonde white girls with fine hair, though some Hispanic, Black, Asian, and brunette Caucasian children have also been recorded as having the condition.

Again, trichologists and dermatologists believe the condition is “underreported,” so there are likely more types of cases than have been documented.

Should I worry if I suspect the condition?

In short, probably not.

“The condition is usually benign, nevertheless associations with trichodental syndrome, synchronised pattern of scalp hair growth, and micronychia have been reported,” the JoT says.

The condition also usually gets better after puberty, the pros say, so they say “treatment is unnecessary.”

“However improvement with minoxidil and cyclosporine has been reported,” they add.

Speak to your doctor if your child exhibits any other symptoms or if you’re worried about hair loss or growth.