Trichotillosis: A compulsive hair pulling disorder


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
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
Signs and tests
Your health care provider will examine your skin, hair, and scalp. A piece of tissue may be removed (biopsy) to find other causes, such as a scalp infection, and to explain the hair loss.
Treatment
Experts don’t agree on the use of medication for treatment. However, naltrexone and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown effective in reducing some symptoms. Behavioral therapy and habit reversal may also be effective.
Expectations (prognosis)
Trichotillomania that begins in younger children (less than 6 years old) may go away without treatment. For most people, the hair pulling ends within 12 months.
For others, trichotillomania is a lifelong disorder. However, treatment often improves the hair pulling and the feelings of depression, anxiety, or poor self image.
Complications
People can have complications when they eat the pulled-out hair (trichophagia). This can cause a blockage in the intestines or lead to poor nutrition.
Prevention
Early detection is the best form of prevention because it leads to early treatment. Decreasing stress can help, because stress may increase compulsive behavior.

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5 thoughts on “Trichotillosis: A compulsive hair pulling disorder

    • Your welcome sweetie, thank you for taking time out to read my posts. I agree, it is quite disturbing but its real. I want to educate on all aspects of hair. The good and bad. Have you read my topic on alopecia?

  1. I know a black male who is dealing with this disease but he feels alone because he only see females discussing this online etc..Are their any male sites you know that share their stories! HELP my friend.

    • @Desiree. God bless you. You are a beautiful friend. Let your friend know that I will have it up by today for him and other men who may be secretly suffering.

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