Trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder) is a disorder where an individual repeatedly pulls out one’s own hair. Trichotillomania falls into the group of behaviors known as Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs), self-grooming behaviors in which individuals pull, pick, scrape, or bite their own hair, skin, or nails, resulting in damage to the body.

As per The TLC Foundation, research indicates that about 1 or 2 in 50 people experience trichotillomania in their lifetime. It usually begins in late childhood/early puberty. In childhood, it occurs about equally in boys and girls. By adulthood, 80-90% of reported cases are women. Hair pulling varies greatly in its severity, location on the body, and response to treatment. Without treatment, trichotillomania tends to be a chronic condition, that may come and go throughout a lifetime.

Effects of Trichotillomania

There are physical as well as mental effects people with trichotillomania may experience. If the pulling is extensive enough, there may be bald spots on the head or loss of eyebrows, eyelashes or body hair. As with alopecia areata, people may cover their hair loss with scarves, hats, wigs or camouflage with makeup.

Shame, embarrassment and other emotional distress may also go hand in hand with trichotillomania. When one begins to cover and conceal their hair loss, the ability to be comfortable in certain situations may decrease. Fear of having the truth come out, to have divulge this deeply person situation, may lead people to begin avoiding activities and social outings they once enjoyed. Sadly this is something many people with any kind of hair loss experience.

Help for People with Trichotillomania

There are varying degrees of severity within this hair pulling disorder, but regardless, there is help out there. From professionals who specialize in Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, organizations such as The TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, to skin and hair care professionals that can assist in hair loss solutions that will help each individual feel their best.

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