Hair Raising

Kaylee was in desperate need of a haircut.  I’d been noticing over the last few weeks that she was rubbing her eyes like crazy and finally realized it was because her bangs had gotten long enough to reach past her eyebrows and were just long enough to be tickling her eyelashes which is what was making her rub her eyes so much.

Up until recently, if Kaylee needed a haircut I would take her to the beauty salon to get it done.  I had had just one experience trying to cut my children’s hair back when Brendan was about 12-15 months old and he wiggled so badly I swore I would never do it again.  I do cut the boys hair now, but that’s because they both get buzz cuts and working with a clippers is a whole lot different than trying to cut hair with scissors.

But since Kaylee turned three I noticed that she wasn’t as wiggly as she used to be and one day I decided to try and cut her bangs myself.  She sat perfectly still and didn’t flinch once as the scissors flashed in front of her eyes.  I was pleased with the result and determined that going forward I would at least be able to cut her bangs by myself and vowed to try cutting the rest of her hair at a later date.

So when Kaylee’s hair needed trimming again I took her into my bathroom and quickly cut her bangs.  Just like the previous time she was an angel and we got through the experience with no issues at all.  Since I didn’t have any pressing things going on at the time I decided that would be as good a time as ever to try cutting the rest of her hair.  I’m no beautician so I didn’t go for anything fancy, I just decided to trim up the back of her hair to one even length.

Like the bangs, Kaylee was perfectly still through the whole process.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with how well she handled it.  Afterward, she wanted to look in my mirror and check out her new haircut.  She clambered up onto her stool and was looking at her hair from all different directions.  Since she no longer looked like a shaggy dog and since I had one of her rubber bands in my bathroom I decided to try and pull her hair up into a ponytail.

As I began combing her hair I noticed that she had some gook in it.  It was at that point that I realized we’d gotten distracted after dropping the boys off that morning and I hadn’t yet given her a bath for the day.  But I turned the comb to the wide side and began trying to comb whatever it was out of her hair.  It was a nasty, sticky mess and I was trying hard to identify what in the world she could have gotten into.

It was a few combings in before I realized that there was a far larger problem.  Each time I pulled the comb away from Kaylee’s head there were hairs attached to the gunk.  Worse, or better, depending on how you looked at it she wasn’t crying out in pain as I pulled these hairs off of her head.  So I looked closer the next time I ran the comb through her hair and realized the “gunk” I was pulling up was actually a scaly, scabby, nastiness and that as I pulled the scabby gunk up I was pulling pieces of her scalp, hair and all, with it.

I immediately stopped combing her hair and called the doctor.  I had no idea what this could be or what would be causing my child’s hair to fall out root and all.  Our regular pediatrician was booked solid for the next week and while I didn’t feel this was emergency room material I also didn’t think it should wait for a week.  They got us in with someone else the very next morning.

Then, trying to prepare myself for whatever news could possibly come from the doctor the next day I began searching the internet for possible causes of toddlers losing their hair.  The most prevalent and seemingly likely answer that came back from my search was ringworm.  Ugh, highly contagious and an 8 week treatment for it.  This ought to be fun.

Well I knew if anyone was going to contract this from Kaylee it was most likely going to be me, since she has a tendency to go into my bathroom and comb her hair using my comb.  But to be cautious I checked the boys heads for any signs of scabs or scales, and had Matt check mine for me.  None of us showed any signs of what Kaylee had on her head.  To be safe I still tossed out the comb I had been using that afternoon and made sure Kaylee didn’t put on anyone’s hats or anything else onto her head.

The next morning the doctor alleviated my fears pretty quickly, it wasn’t ringworm.  Phew, now I didn’t have to worry about trying to keep a highly contagious infection from spreading though my house.  But then what was it?  Evidently it was an extremely bad case of cradle cap.  I was in shock.  Why would my three year old have cradle cap?  That was something I’d dealt with when my kids were itty bitty babies, but after a few months it was no longer a problem.

For that particular piece the doctor didn’t have an answer for me.  She prescribed an over the counter dandruff shampoo and told me we’d have to basically pick, scrub, and comb all of the cradle cap out of her hair.  She also said that because this was such a bad case it had essentially choked off the hair follicles and that was why Kaylee’s hair was falling out.  I hadn’t noticed until she said that, but Kaylee’s hair has been the same length for a while now which makes more sense since her hair was not growing.

She also scheduled us an appointment with a dermatologist to get a better answer as to why she developed cradle cap at this age and to (hopefully) get some answers as to how we can prevent this from happening in the future.  I left the doctors office both relieved and a little discouraged about the situation.  When we got home that afternoon I put the doctors advice into immediate practice.  I scrubbed Kaylee’s hair with the shampoo and then took her into the living room to watch a cartoon while I began working on her hair.

It wasn’t long before I had a pretty sizable bald patch on her temple.  By then her hair had dried from the bath and the constant motion of the comb and my fingers picking at her scalp had irritated both her and the skin so I quit for the day knowing I had a lot more left to do before it was all done.

Kaylee has been a doll about this whole thing.  Thankfully she’s young enough that losing her hair doesn’t seem to be bothering her much.  She just sits quietly and focuses on the cartoon while I slowly peel this cradle cap off her head.  She isn’t even phased by the growing pile of hair that appears next to her as I do this.  At one point I said to her that I was sorry her hair was falling out, and in her most grown up voice she said, “dat’s okay mommy, I don’t mind.”

I’m trying not to mind either.  It’s just hair, and it will grow back…eventually.  In the meantime as long as she’s upbeat about the whole situation the rest of us can take a leaf out of her book and just go with the flow.

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