Hair Pulling (Trichotillomania)


The origin of the term Trichotillomania (TTM) is from Greek: Trich - hair, Till - pull, Mania - madness



Hair pulling (Trichotillomania) is a disorder characterized by pulling hair from the body at the root resulting in significant hair loss. The most affected part of the body is the scalp (head), however other places where hair grows are affected as well (eyebrows, beard, pubic hair, nose hair, eyelashes etc). This disorder is classified under same category as compulsive skin picking. Indeed, the two disorders are closely connected and often researched together since they both involve the connection between a compulsive urge and a body-focused repetitive behavior. 

Approximately 2% of the population has trichotillomania which often begins around puberty, with females experiencing the disorder up to four time more than males. While the cause remains unknown, medical research suggests that heredity, genetics, hormones, and stress can contribute to developing the disorder. 

Like skin picking disorder, trichotillomania is a body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB) often confused with non-suicidal self injury, body dysmorphic disorder, and most commonly, obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, BFRBs differ in that they are behavior-driven, start early in adolescence, and involve repetitive motor symptoms relating them closely with tic disorders. Most notably, the medications that show effectiveness with cognitively driven disorders such as OCD do not work with BFRBs. 

People with trichotillomania endure the physical effects of hair loss, damaged hair follicles, skin damage, and possible infections. For those who eat the hair after pulling it, further digestive complications arise. Psychologically, people with trichotillomania feel high levels of shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, and low self-esteem often leading to social isolation and other impairments. 

Trichotillomania treatment is similar to skin picking disorder and includes physical, psychological, and social interventions. 

Read more about this disorder at our trichotillomania website.

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