Every one of us deals with stress and anxiety in some or the other way. People with hair pulling disorder or trichotillomania have a mental health condition with a massive urge to pull out their hair.
It is usual for some to hold or pull a bunch of their hair in anger, anxiety, or stress, but for some, this picking can get out of control and may be a warning sign of other serious issues. The repetitive pulling of hair out can lead to bald spots and additional emotional distress.
Here, we'll discuss what trichotillomania or hair pulling disorder is, its causes & preventions, and how you can cure it.
What is a Hair Pulling Disorder?
Hair-pulling condition, also known as Trichotillomania (TTM) or trich, is a mental health disorder in which people feel like pulling out their hair. TTM mainly falls into the category of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to research, 0.5 to 2 percent of people have TTM.
Children experiencing trichotillomania focus only on pulling out their scalp hair. However, adults with TTM do not permanently restrict hair pulling to the scalp. They may pull hair from various places experiencing hair growth.
This disorder usually develops during adolescence. It's a short-lived concern in infants and goes away independently in young children. The more severe condition most commonly begins between ages 10 and 13.
TTM is not gender specific. It equally affects males and females. The impact is more on females and is often noticed during adulthood—the desire to pull out hair increases during the start of their menstrual cycles.
When severe, it often negatively affects a person's well-being, happiness, and overall quality of life.
Symptoms of Hair Pulling Disorder
- Repetitive pulling of hair out, typically from the scalp. Sometimes from other body areas like the eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, and mustache.
- Patients experience increasing tension before pulling or when they try to resist tearing their hair.
- A sense of relief or pleasure after pulling the hair.
- Noticeable hair loss that leads to bald areas on the scalp and other body parts, including missing eyelashes or eyebrows.
- Patients develop a condition known as Trichophagia, where they tend to chew, bite, or eat pulled-out hair.
- Significant distress or facing difficulties at school, work, or in social circumstances related to pulling out hair
Many people with trich also bite their nails, pick their skin, or chew their lips. Pulling hairs from other objects and materials, like dolls, clothes, or blankets, may be a sign. Most people with TTM pull their hair privately and try to hide the condition from others.
What Causes Hair Pulling Disorder?
While professionals suspect several possible factors could lead to hair pulling disorder, there aren't any confirmed causes. Some of the suspected factors include the following:
- Genetics- TTM may occur because of specific DNA mutations. Family history may play a vital role in the development of TTM. However, additional research and study are required to confirm this.
- Changes in brain structure or chemistry- People with trich often have changes to specific areas of their brains or differences in their brain chemistry.
- Coping mechanism- Many people experiencing such a condition describe it starting after a stressful period. Others say it began because of boredom and that pulling their hair became a habit.
These causes can result in various complications and risk factors. Following are a few of them.
Hair Pulling Disorder: Risk Factor & Complications
The following factors tend to increase the risk of TTM:
- Age- Trichotillomania is often a lifelong problem that mainly develops just before or during the early teens. Infants can also be prone to hair pulling, but this is generally mild and goes away with time.
- Other disorders- People having TTM may also deal with other conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Stress- Severely stressful situations or events may trigger trichotillomania in some people.
Trichotillomania has a significantly negative impact on your life. Some complications may include the following:
- Emotional distress- People with TTM or hair pulling disorder share feelings of humiliation, shame, and embarrassment. They may undergo depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. Alcohol intake or street drug usage also increases because of the condition.
- Problems with social and work functioning- People report embarrassment because hair loss may lead them to sidestep social activities and job opportunities.
- Skin and hair damage- Constant hair pulling can cause other damage like scarring, including infections on your scalp skin or the specific area from where the hair is pulled that can permanently affect hair growth.
- Hairballs- Eating hair may lead to a giant, matted hairball (trichobezoar) in the digestive tract. Over the years, the hairball can lead to vomiting, weight loss, intestinal obstruction, or even death.
How Can You Prevent Trichotillomania?
Unfortunately, this extreme hair-pulling can lead to significant and embarrassing changes to a person's physical appearance.
The following tips will help you control, stop, or quit hair-pulling.
- Focus Your Attention on Something Else
If you have a mild urge to pull your hair, you may replace the repetitive behaviors of your body with a different activity. When you feel like pulling your hair, use a stress ball or fidget spinner to occupy yourself.
- Recognize Triggers
The sight of hair can trigger hair pulling. Try to control yourself when you feel the urge to pull your hair. This can be challenging, but you should hold yourself back.
If you spot the trigger points, you can prepare to plan on how to change your reaction toward the urge.
Take a moment to recollect yourself when you discover you have a hair pulling disorder because of stress and anxiety. Try to take a quick pause and hold your thoughts. The moment you calm yourself down, the urge to pull your hair decreases.
Meditation is an effective and excellent stress reliever. Regular meditation can help you cope with the desire to pull your hair.
- Tie or Cover Your Hair
If you constantly want to pull your hair, try to tie or cover it. Braid your hair or wear a hat to create an obstacle that makes your hair less accessible for pulling.
If you tend to pull off your eyelashes or eyebrows, wearing oversized eyeglasses can help. In addition, you can wear wigs or use hair extensions and hair toppers if your hair starts to thin.
- Seek Professional Help
Most often, patients with TTM also have other mental health disorders with recurring stress and anxiety. Taking precautions at home may not be enough to stop hair-pulling. However, a professional is the only one who can evaluate your condition correctly.
Trich is a condition that may demand both medication and psychotherapy. Proper diagnosis and therapy are essential for you to experience long-lasting relief.
Hair Pulling Disorder: Therapy & Medication
Treatments of TTM are limited. However, some treatment choices have helped patients limit their hair-pulling urge or stop it entirely.
A professional may recommend the following therapy for TTM patients.
- Habit reversal training- This behavior therapy is the primary treatment for TTM. Here you learn to recognize situations likely responsible for pulling your hair and replace it with other behaviors instead.
For example, you might clench your fists to help stop your urge. Patients also use other therapies along with habit reversal training.
Behavior therapy also helps find ways to stay motivated and stop hair-pulling.
- Cognitive therapy helps you explore, identify, and change the beliefs that lead to hair pulling.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy can help you accept your urges without acting on them.
Although no medications are approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) specifically for treating TTM, some may help control specific symptoms.
In some cases, a psychiatrist may advise you to take antidepressant medicines along with therapy.
Besides medication and therapy, hair extensions are the most common and desired treatments. Most patients suffering from TTM have bald patches on their crowns. Getting hair extensions and establishing a new hair care routine often help with the issue. It is a practical approach to relieving the disorder.
For example, hair extension requires maintenance, and a person's natural hair is far behind the hair topper or extension, reducing the urge to pull out hair.
Are You Dealing With Hair Pulling Disorder? Contact Bond Hair Bar Now!
While Trichotillomania or trich is a hair pulling disorder, most medical solutions aim at your mental and physical behavior to reduce the consequence of pulling hair.
We at Bond Hair Bar believe your urge requires more of an artistic approach. The mind's perception of beauty and appeal has a powerful and positive effect when perceiving oneself. Therefore there is a better chance to succeed when reducing the impulse.
Emily Wyant, an expert in the industry for over 15 years at Bond Hair Bar, boosts your confidence in how you look and appear to everyone. Our clients with TTM have claimed that this routine has reduced their anxiety and desire to continue 'pulling' or 'picking.' They feel beautiful because of a customized application process.If you or anyone you know who is dealing with TTM and wish a better recovery path, Call us or book your free consultation now!