Locks of Love is devoted to helping every child suffering from medical hair loss, thus we do not discriminate as to the cause of hair loss. We list the following information in an attempt to explain types of hair loss and specific needs of individual recipients.
Locks of Love is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse or advocate any of the organizations listed on this webpage.
Childrens Alopecia Project
American Cancer Society
American Hair Loss Council
National Alopecia Areata Foundation
Trichotillomania Learning Center
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Lupus Foundation of America
National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias
American Skin Association
American Academy of Dermatology Kids' Connection
Hair Loss Expert
Surviving Hair Loss
I'm A Kid Foundation
The Icla da Silva Foundation
The majority of our recipients live with alopecia. Alopecia is an auto-immune disorder that causes the hair follicles to shut down. This disease has varying degrees and affects 5.2 million people in the United States alone. Alopecia areata affects both sexes equally and may, but does not always, progress to significant hair loss. Currently, there is no known cause or cure for alopecia. The degrees of alopecia are as follows:
Cancer constitutes the second highest percentage of our recipients. Every year approximately 2,200 children under age 20 are diagnosed with brain tumors. Radiation treatment for cancer can cause permanent hair loss. Chemotherapy may also cause hair loss to be long-term depending on the length of treatment needed.
Other causes of hair loss account for a small percentage of our recipients:
Locks of Love is committed to providing the highest quality hair prostheses (hairpieces) to every child suffering from long term or permanent medical hair loss. The hair prostheses provided are custom-made from donated ponytails and would retail between $3,500 and $6,000. Locks of Love provides them for free or on a sliding scale, based on financial need. These prostheses are different from synthetic hairpieces because they form a vacuum seal, and do not require the use of tape or glue. Only the wearer of the prosthesis may remove it, by breaking the vacuum seal at the temples. Children can dismiss insecurities about classmates pulling off their hairpiece, or losing it during sports. They can also swim and shower with it in place. Wigs do not provide the security needed for every day activities of children. This sense of security allows the children to get back their self-confidence and be kids again.
When a child is accepted into the program, the manufacturing process begins. A molding kit and instructional DVD are sent to demonstrate how to make a plaster cast mold of the child's head. From this mold, a plastic fitting cap is made. The child is able to choose the color and length of the hair they would like as well as the skin tone color of the silicone base. Each prosthesis requires between 6 and 10 ponytails and each strand of hair is injected by hand into the silicone base up to 150,000 times. The prostheses are provided with hairs of all one length so each child may style it to compliment their facial features. Children ages 6 to 21 can reapply for a new prosthesis every 18 months.
The prostheses provided are designed to be worn by children suffering from long term or permanent hair loss. The vacuum fit can only function when there is total hair loss and no re-growth occurring. Children with long term or permanent hair loss who have not experienced total hair loss may shave any existing hair so they can begin the molding process. The entire process of receiving a hairpiece takes between four and six months.
In cases where children are experiencing short term hair loss, usually due to chemotherapy treatments, they require a more immediate answer to their needs. These recipients would receive a synthetic hairpiece in lieu of a prosthesis. These synthetic hairpieces are made especially for children and can be provided quickly and worn during re-growth. The production time of a prosthesis is prohibitive in meeting these immediate needs, and also cannot be worn effectively once hair begins to re-grow.
Children under six receive synthetic hairpieces. Because of the growth rate under the age of six, a child may outgrow a prosthesis fashioned for them before its completion. Like the prostheses we provide a synthetic hairpiece of the highest quality.