Trichotillomania refers to a condition in which a person has an irresistible need to pull his hair out – this can be from the scalp, the eyebrows or any other hair-growing areas. This is a hair-pulling disorder which results in patchy bald spots on various regions of the scalp and other areas of the body.
In some cases, trichotillomania can be mild and can be managed by some people. However, in other cases, people find it irresistible to pull their hair, thereby, causing patchy bald spots with emotional distress. Fortunately, there are some treatment methods that may help people stop their hair-pulling habits.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of trichotillomania include:
- Constantly pulling out the hair from the scalp, eyelashes or eyebrows and sometimes other regions of the body as well
- Excessive need to pull the hair out of the scalp, eyebrows or other regions of the body
- Bald patches on the scalp or missing eyebrows or eyelashes
- Playing with hair that has been pulled out
- Chewing on hair that has been pulled out
- Rubbing the hair that has been pulled out, across the face or lips
Typically, people do not pull their hair publically and prefer hiding their problem from others.
Some people pull their hair intentionally and are focuses while doing so. Therefore, they are conscious about pulling their hair and develop a habit. However, there are many people who tend to pull their hair out without conscious control.
A person can pull his hair consciously or unconsciously. He may pull his hair out when he is frustrated and he may also pull his hair out unconsciously when he is just bored and has nothing keeping his fingers busy. Certain movements may stimulate an urge to pull your hair, for example, when you place your hand over or head or when you comb your hair.
The exact cause of trichotillomania is still not certain. Some believe it may be associated with genetic or environmental factors, while others also believe that it may be linked to certain abnormalities in the brain that may alter the levels of dopamine or serotonin produced.
Treatment options for trichotillomania are limited. Some methods may include:
- Medications such as antidepressants
- Psychotherapy, specifically a type intended to treat people with trichotillomania. This therapy will help you understand when and why you start hair pulling and find alternatives to hair-pulling to vent out frustration or other emotions, such as through clenching your fist or diverting your hands towards your ears from your hair. ACT or acceptance and commitment therapy is also an option for people with trichotillomania, in which people are taught how to accept their behavior and how they can manage hair pulling urges.