What is Trichotillomania?


This disorder is where you pull your own hair out. While many people who perform this with full knowledge, there are some people who are unaware they are pulling their hair out; you can pull hair out at night without even knowing that you are doing this.

Understanding why people have this condition is difficult; there is no medical reason for the action.  The treatments for the condition are similar to those who are suffering from depression and other mentally related conditions, taking medication and talking through problems.

The reasons for pulling out your own hair is often stress related, remove the stress and the condition can reduce. The hair pulling is more likely on the head, but it is possible for other areas to be the focus by an individual, including the arms, legs, chest, eyebrows and eyelashes are all common sites of hair pulling.

The condition is not common for reporting to a medical practitioner, because of the associated guilt and shame that goes with the condition. While the pulling can make a person feel good, the results can make a person feel uncomfortable and they make every effort to hide the area from view. They become experts at wearing hats or using their hairstyle to cover any patch where they have removed hair.

The most common age for the condition to present itself is between the ages of 9 -13 and it is present in both boys and girls, but the evidence suggests more girls are more likely to pull their hair out than boys. While it is difficult to change habits and behaviours, it is possible for a child to stop this behaviour. It will take time and it is important to understand the trigger, which set off the condition. As with many self-harming conditions, dealing with the cause is more beneficial than just stopping the result, which in this instance is the hair pulling.

The main factor that can set off an episode is stress and depression; while many people wonder how a child can possibly feel stress, there is good evidence to back up the claims of the pressure from family life and peer pressure to conform, so that depression and stress is possible in this age group and even younger.

Treatment for hair loss is different if the problem is because of self-pulling. It is possible that damage to the hair follicle will result in poor hair quality and even permanent hair loss. While there are options to help regenerate hair, there is little point to treat the hair loss until the patient is able to stop pulling the hair out.

Once the condition is manageable, the options for hair regrowth will be open to discussion with the patient and the hair specialist.

The condition, diagnosed in 1889 by the French dermatologist Francois Henri Hallopeau.  Is a recognised condition and one that can spread over a wide age range; reporting the condition doesn’t mean the doctor will think less of you, getting help is important. Stopping the physical action of hair pulling and preventing bald patches and causing skin infection and inflammation and can result in permanent hair loss, is an important step forward in resolving the condition.


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