Can Hair Loss Assessments Predict the Severity of Zinc Deficiency in the Pediatric Population? A Prospective Observational Study

Amjad Sulieman Tarawneh, Khitam Al-Refu, Bashar Ramadan


Background and aims: Zinc deficiency causes many problems in adult and pediatric populations. However, the association between serum zinc levels and hair loss has not been well studied in pediatric populations. The aim of this study was to assess serum zinc levels in children with hair loss and to find other characteristics predictive of low zinc levels.
Materials and Methods: Data were collected from pediatric patients seen at pediatric and dermatology clinics affiliated with Mutah University, Jordan from January 2015 to January 2017. Detailed histories were taken and physical examinations were performed on all patients. Serum zinc levels and other relevant lab tests were performed in patients who had some form of hair abnormality.
Results: Of the 5200 cases examined, 7.7% (n=401/5200) had some form of hair abnormality. In the study population, 3.1% (n=162/5200) had both hair loss and zinc deficiency, with a mean zinc level of 51.3 μg/dL. Of those with zinc deficiency, 14.2% had patchy hair loss (mean zinc level: 32.8 μg/dL, P<0.001), 31.5% had diffuse hair loss (mean zinc level: 39.2 μg/dL, P<0.001), 58% had a scaly scalp (mean zinc level: 45.7 μg/dL, P<0.001), and 95.1% had hair texture or color changes (mean zinc level: 50.7 μg/dL, P=0.001).
Conclusion: Many factors predicted the severity of zinc deficiency in pediatric patients with hair abnormalities. Physical examination of the hair and scalp to assess for hair textures and color changes, diffuse hair loss, patchy hair loss, and scaly scalp, is a useful method for predicting the severity of serum zinc deficiency.


Alopecia, Children, Hair loss, Predictive factors, Zinc deficiency

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