What is Trichotillomania: The Hair Pulling Disorder


In today’s fast pacing and busy world, there are so many disease and disorders affecting the living creatures in our lives and very small part of it is known to us, trichotillomania is one of them.

This is due to lifestyle degradation in the modern world due to overuse of chemicals in our daily life that has increased the number of toxins present in our body and they are not aware of many things.

People mostly consider a disease and disorder two sides of a coin and get confused between them as they think that both are the same, But no they are totally different in almost every aspect.what is trichotillomania

Disease or Disorder

Is it a Disease?

Basically, a disease is something to which we refer to as a pathological process affecting the whole body or any of its parts and by having a characteristic set of signs and symptoms.

It is also considered to be due to the extrinsic factors such as virus, bacteria and many others.

The well known Disease are Stroke, Lung disease, Liver disease etc.

So, No Trichotillomania is not a disease.

Is it a Disorder?

Disorder is considered as some abnormalities or derangement in persons physical or mental state.

It is considered the defects from birth or due to some genetic malfunction, such as sleep disorder, Trichotillomania and many more.

What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania (Pronounced: trick-oh-till-oh-may-nee-ah) is a body-focused repetitive behavior and classified as one of the impulse control disorder which is known to generate an urge to pull out one’s hair. Efforts for reducing or completely stopping the disorder goes in vain.

The hair pulling can occur in any region of the body but the most common places are scalp, eyebrows, and eyelids. Let’s know what is trichotillomania and what triggers it.

What triggers trichotillomania?

Now the question is how the urge for pulling arises or what is the reason for this type of behavior?

It mostly can be seen in people with the obsessive-compulsive disorder and the urge is triggered mostly due to anxiety, tension, anger or any other mood swings.

People with this disorder usually examine the hair roots, broken hair and in some extreme cases start sucking or eating it even leading to intestinal problems requiring surgery for removal.

As it is defined to be a self-induced loss of hair due to the relief caused by pulling the hair. Many affected by it may not realize that they are pulling their hair but deny the fact which can only be diagnosed from the bald spots on the scalp, hair loss in facial region and many more.

Pulling can also occur from less common areas including the pubic area, or any other body region(arms, legs, chest hairs etc). The most common method of hair pulling is to use their fingers.

However, some also use tweezers or other instruments.

How and when trichotillomania affects a person in his life?

As it is a disorder which is due to genetic alteration or malfunction there is always a possibility of the disorder to run in families generation by generation.

Females are more affected by Trichotillomania compared to males in all age groups.

As the effect can be seen in multiple age groups, it is most harmful to children under the age of 6 as the hair follicles are quite tender and are growing at this stage.

But the peak age for occurrences at the onset of 9 to 14 mostly triggered due to depression and stress. For the treatment approach the age group has been divided into 3 distinct age group:

  1. Preschool age children: Most at risk of getting baldness or improper growth (including thin hair) in future as the hair roots or follicle is undergrowth are severely damaged due to pulling of hair.
  2. Preadolescents to young adults: Here the risk is mostly due to the hormonal changes in the body leading to stress and depression
  3. Adults: In this stage, the hair pulling disorder occurs due to the work tensions and depressions developing more urges towards it.

Social effects of trichotillomania

What are the effects of hair pulling disorder in a person’s life and how they try to protect themselves from others?

People affected with Trichotillomania often attempt to cover up their hair loss because of the disorder and try to prevent others from seeing the hair loss by using camouflage including the use of hats, scarves, and false eyelashes and hairs.

Sufferers are so embarrassed, ashamed, or depressed by their hair loss that they avoid social gatherings in an effort to prevent others from seeing it.

Although many sufferers of trichotillomania lead normal lives (forming relationships, getting married etc)  but there are few those who avoid relationships for fear of having their Trichotillomania secret exposed to the world.

Even though many lead normal life there is some disturbance causing distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning leading to low self-esteem often due to fear of socializing and shunned by peers.

Distress may include feeling a loss of control, embarrassment, or shame and impairment leading to avoidance of work, school, or other public situations most common in children in lower age group and adolescents.

Some individuals with trichotillomania may feel they are the only person with this problem due to low rates of reporting and less awareness and knowledge about it in the society.

Due to all of the reasons the individual gets further depressed and tends to get more urges of pulling hair leading to further baldness in the person

Are there any other illnesses caused by Trichotillomania?

As it is one of the obsessive-compulsive disorder which means that it shows many symptoms of it, such as compulsive counting, checking, or washing etc.

These disorders commonly run in the same families and medications used to treat OCD can be helpful in treating trichotillomania.

Depression also occurs frequently in the person with this illness, along with excoriation (skin-picking) disorder.

Other body-focused repetitive behaviors, such as nail biting, thumb sucking, head banging, or compulsive scratching are also common(parts or the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Also Read: Trichotillomania Hair Regrowth Tips

Trichotillomania Treatment

There is treatment present but as it is a mind-based disorder each treatment is based on a persons age.

For children, the condition can be cured easily by managing them conservatively but for adults, it can be done by raising awareness of condition and diagnosis.

The treatments with high success ratios are:

  1. Psychotherapy: Habit reversal training (HRT) has the highest rate of success in treating trichotillomania in all the age groups as it is a mental disorder.
  2. Medication: There are no FDA approved drugs on the market for trichotillomania treatment but treatment with clomipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant has shown some better results.

The Bottom Line

Trichotillomania is a mind-based disorder which can affect a persons life and those surrounding him because it drastically affects the self-confidence, thinking capability and the social and personal life but can be cured by taking some necessary steps by the person, full support from the family and a talk with the Doctor as its not an incurable disorder.

The positive effects cannot be seen immediately in the patient. It needs some patience.

If you have any more question about what is trichotillomania, feel free to ask without any hesitation in the comment section below. We will try to answer your every single query.


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