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Trichotillomania: hair–pulling disorder – symptoms & causes

Trichotillomania is also known as hair-pulling disorder. This is a mental disorder which is involving recurrent and irresistible urge to pull out the hair from scalp, eyebrows or other parts of the body that have hair, despite trying to stop. The hair pulling from the scalp is often leaving patchy bald spots which are causing significant distress and they can interfere with the work or social functioning. Those people who have trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise the loss of the hair. In some cases, the trichotillomania can be mild and it can be managed. In another case in which the compulsive need to pull hair is overwhelming. There are some treatments that have helped people to reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.

Symptoms of Trichotillomania:

Below are given some signs and symptoms of trichotillomania:

  • Significant distress or problems at work, school or in social situations related to the pulling out hair
  • Constantly trying to stop the pulling of hair or trying to do it less often without success
  • Playing with pulled-out hair or rubbing it across your lips or face
  • Biting, chewing or eating pulled-out hair
  • Desire and choice for specific types of hair, rituals that accompany hair pulling or patterns of hair pulling
  • Noticeable hair loss, such as shortened hair or thinned or bald areas on the scalp or other areas of the body, including sparse or missing eyelashes or eyebrows
  • A sense of pleasure or relief after the hair is pulled
  • An increasing sense of tension before pulling or when you try to resist pulling
  • Need to frequently pull the hair out, particularly from the scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes but sometimes from other body areas and sites may vary over time

Trichotillomania: hair–pulling disorder - symptoms & causes

Also, there are many people who suffer from trichotillomania who chew their lips, bite their nails and pick their skin. Also, there are some cases when pulling hair from materials, such as blanket or clothes and pulling hair from pets and dolls, can be a sign of trichotillomania. In most cases, people who suffer from trichotillomania pull their hairs in private and they try to hide this disorder from others.

Causes of Trichotillomania:

There are many studies for this condition but the cause for trichotillomania is not exactly known. It is thought that it is a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Some Risk Factors of Hair – Pulling Disorder:

Below are given some factors that may increase the chances of developing trichotillomania:

  • Stress: The stressful events or situations can trigger trichotillomania in some people.
  • Other disorders: It is known that those people who have trichotillomania can have other disorders, such as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorders) or anxiety.
  • Age: This condition is usually developing just before or during the early teens. In most cases, it is happening between the ages of 10 – 13. In many cases, trichotillomania is a life-threatening problem. Also, infants can be prone to trichotillomania but it is usually mild and it goes away on its own without treatment.
  • Family history: It is known that genetics can play a role in the development of trichotillomania and it can happen in those people who have a close relative with trichotillomania.

In some studies are shown that women are more treated for trichotillomania because women are asking for doctor’s help more often than men. Also, it was noticed that in early childhood, boys and girls are equally affected.

Complications of Hair – Pulling Disorder:

This condition may not seem particularly serious but it can have a big negative impact on your life. Here are some complications caused by trichotillomania:

  • Hairballs: Those people who eat their hairs can have a large and matted hairball in their digestive tracts. As time passes, this hairball can cause intestinal obstruction, vomiting, weight loss, and even death.
  • Damage to skin and hair: The constant hair pulling can cause scarring and other damages, such as infections to the scalp, on the skin or other areas where the hair is pulled and this can permanently affect the hair growth.
  • Emotional distress: There are many people who have trichotillomania who are feeling embarrassment, humiliation, and shame. Also, they can experience anxiety, depression, low self – esteem and drug or alcohol use because of their condition.
Neem Mayur
Neem Mayur
Mayur Neem, a certified dietician having more than 5 years of experience in the field of diet practice. He is working as a diet expert and offering services to body builders, sports persons, celebrities, etc. He is lover of natural remedies and loves to spend most of his free time in his organic farm and offers expert advice on organic farming to local farmers. He is available through [email protected]


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