Trichotillosis / Trichotillomania

(also known as Compulsive Hair-Pulling Disorder)

Trichotillosis / Trichotillomania 

Trichotillosis may be described as an ‘impulse control disorder’,or an ‘obsessive control disorder’ (OCD), causing someone to have recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out their own hair (despite any desire to stop). 

Pulling out hair may provide a feeling of relief, and perpetuates a ‘cycle’, where individuals continue the repetitive behaviour, despite it affecting their confidence/feelings of self-worth and appearance.

 The repeated pulling out of hair may lead to damage of the hair follicles, causing slower/sparser hair growth, or changes in hair texture – becoming coarser and ‘kinkier’ than normal. Changes in colour (possibly resulting in white hair) are also possible. Unfortunately, these changes may result in the desire to pull the (altered) hair even stronger.

Trichotillosis is most frequently observed during childhood /adolescence, and more common in females. Having a family history of the condition and harbouring negative emotions (e.g. anxiety/depression) are considered ‘triggers’ for developing this disorder. However, the exact cause may remain unknown. A number of causes/theories have been proposed – such as stress, an imbalance in neurotransmitters in the brain, and hormonal fluctuations during puberty. 

If allowed to continue over a period of time, Trichotillosis may become a ‘habit’ that is very difficult to stop.

This is an extremely emotional and distressing condition, and it is best to consult a doctor, psychiatrist or trichologist for advice.