04 / 05 / 14

Trichotillomania: What Can Be Done?

“Trichotillomania is hair loss from repeated urges to pull or twist the hair until it breaks off. Patients are unable to stop this behavior, even as their hair becomes thinner.”

Causes, Incidence and Risk Factors. Trichotillomania is a type of impulsive control disorder. Its causes are not clearly understood. It may affect as much as 4% of the population. Women are four times more likely to be affected than men.

Symptoms usually begin before age 17. The hair may come out in round patches or across the scalp. The effect is an uneven appearance. The person may pluck other hairy areas, such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, or body hair.

These symptoms are usually seen in children:

  • An uneven appearance to the hair
  • Bare patches or all around (diffuse) loss of hair
  • Bowel blockage (obstruction) if people eat the hair they pull out
  • Constant tugging, pulling, or twisting of hair
  • Denying the hair pulling
  • Hair regrowth that feels like stubble in the bare spots
  • Increasing sense of tension before the hair pulling
  • Other self-injury behaviors
  • Sense of relief, pleasure, or gratification after the hair pulling

Most people with this disorder also have problems with:

  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Anxiety
  • Poor self image”

According to MayoClinic.com, for some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the urge to pull hair is overwhelming and can be accompanied by considerable distress. Some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.

An article on Trichotillomania at Wikipedia.org suggests that support groups and internet sites such as the Trichotillomania Learning Center can provide recommended educational material and help persons with trichotillomania in maintaining a positive attitude and overcoming the fear of being alone with the disease.

Trichotillomania is classified as an impulse control disorder and leads to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment. Teens and adults with the disorder may find coping with the disorder in every day life somewhat easier by consulting a trained hair loss professional who may recommend a wig or hair prosthesis to mask the resulting hair loss and allow the sufferer to interact normally in social and public situations such as work and school.

Trichotillomania Learning Center