What is Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder)

What is Trichotillomania?


Hair-pulling disorder, or Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh), is a mental condition characterized by compulsive, repeated cravings to take out hair from the scalp, eyebrows, or other regions of the body.

Bald patches may be left behind when hair is pulled out of the scalp, which can be pretty upsetting and make it difficult to operate in social or professional settings. Trichotillomania sufferers may go to extreme measures to cover up their baldness.

Trichotillomania may be pretty minor and easy to control for some individuals. There are others whose temptation to tear off their hair is so strong that it consumes their lives. Fortunately, many individuals have found relief from their hair-pulling habits after using available treatments.


The following signs and symptoms commonly characterize Trichotillomania:

  • You may lose hair from several body parts, including your scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes.
  • Pre-pull or post-pull tension increases as one resists the force of the pull.
  • Feelings of satisfaction or relief after having one’s hair ripped off
  • Reduced hair length, thinning hair, or bald patches on the body (including the scalp) are all signs of hair loss.
  • The desire for certain hair textures, styles, and patterns, as well as the presence of associated rituals when one engages in hair-pulling behaviors
  • Behaviors such as biting, gnawing, or eating pulled-out hair
  • You are having fun with your hair out of its natural place or playing with it by stroking it over your cheeks or lips.
  • Despite repeated efforts, you can’t seem to stop or reduce the frequency with which you pull out your hair.
  • Extreme anxiety, tension, or difficulties at home, school, or in social settings due to balding

People with Trichotillomania often engage in other compulsive behaviors, such as skin-picking, nail-biting, and lip chewing. Hair pulling may be a symptom, whether from a human, stuffed animal, or fabric. Most persons with Trichotillomania only take their hair out in private, and they often strive to keep their disease a secret.

Hair pulling is a symptom of Trichotillomania, which causes sufferers to:

  • Focused. Some individuals deliberately take off clumps of hair to calm themselves when feeling anxious or stressed. Some persons who pull their hair engage in complex rituals, such as searching for the perfect strand or chewing their own drawn hair.
  • Automatic. While bored, whether reading or watching TV, some individuals pluck out their hair unconsciously.
  • Depending on their current state of mind, the same individual may engage in either deliberate or unconscious hair tugging. Resting your head on your palm or combing your hair, for example, might cause you to pull out strands of hair.

Trichotillomania Symptoms

Attachment issues and Trichotillomania have been linked.

Negative feelings. Many persons with Trichotillomania pull out their hair as a coping mechanism for unpleasant emotions, including stress, worry, tension, boredom, loneliness, weariness, or frustration.

Happy thoughts. Trichotillomania sufferers often find comfort and satisfaction in pulling off their hair. So they keep on tearing out their hair to keep those good vibes going.

It’s important to note that Trichotillomania is a chronic condition that lasts for a long time. Symptoms might worsen over time without therapy. Menstrual hormonal fluctuations, for instance, have been linked to worsening symptoms in women. Symptoms may come and go for weeks, months, or even years without treatment for some individuals. A person’s hair-pulling habit usually remains the same in the first few years.

Reasons to See the Doctor

See a medical professional if you cannot stop pulling out your hair or feel wrong about how it’s affecting your look. Without therapy, Trichotillomania is not simply a terrible habit; it is a mental health condition.


As of yet, Trichotillomania’s origins are unknown. Trichotillomania is likely caused by a mix of hereditary and environmental variables, as with many other complicated illnesses.

Factors that might potentially go wrong

The likelihood of developing Trichotillomania is increased by the following:

  • Descendant tree. It is possible that Trichotillomania runs in families and that people with a close relative with the illness are more likely to acquire the disorder themselves.
  • Age. Developing somewhere between the ages of 10 and 13, Trichotillomania is a chronic condition that may last a lifetime. Even infants may have modest cases of hair pulling, but it often gets better without any intervention.
  • Certain supplementary illnesses. Trichotillomania sufferers are at increased risk for developing co-occurring mental health issues such as OCD, schizoaffective disorder, and depression (OCD).
  • Stress. Very stressful circumstances may bring on Trichotillomania in specific individuals.

Far more women than males seek treatment for Trichotillomania. However, this disparity may be because females tend to be more prone to seek medical counsel in the first place. Early on, it seems that both males and girls are impacted similarly.

Trichotillomania Hair Pulling


You may not think it’s a big deal, but Trichotillomania can profoundly affect your life. The following are examples of potential complications:

  • Distress on a mental and emotional level. Many persons who suffer from Trichotillomania say they are embarrassed by their condition. They may also struggle with poor self-esteem, sadness, anxiety, and substance abuse due to their illness.
  • Impairment in social and occupational functioning. If you’re experiencing hair loss and are self-conscious about it, you may withdraw from social situations and maybe give up on finding a job altogether. Those who suffer from Trichotillomania may try to hide their condition by using cosmetic aids such as wigs, hairstyles that conceal bald spots, or fake eyelashes. Due to shame or embarrassment, some individuals may avoid getting close to others.
  • Damage to the skin and hair. Frequent hair pulling may permanently disrupt hair development due to scarring, physical damage, and even infections to the scalp or the region where hair is removed.
  • Hairballs. Trichobezoars, or hairballs, may form in the digestive system if you eat enough hair. Long-term, constant hairball discomfort may lead to malnutrition, nausea, vomiting, intestinal blockage, and even death.

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