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Trichotillomania Symptoms

Trichotillomania Symptoms

A type of impulse control disorder, trichotillomania is characterized by an irresistible urge to pull out one's own hair.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Trichotillomania is mostly found in females. It may be seen in infants as well as adults, but it has been observed that in most cases, the condition is developed between the age of nine to thirteen. As most of the affected people refrain from revealing their condition, there are no correct estimates about the prevalence of trichotillomania in the society.

What is Trichotillomania?

This condition is considered as a mental disorder. To be more precise, it is a type of impulse control disorder, which makes it impossible for the affected person to control an impulse or to stop an action from being carried out by himself. The affected person cannot resist the urge of pulling out his or her own hair. It is said that such a person feels immense growing tension, till he/she pulls out hair, from the scalp and eyebrows. Even the eyelashes, body hair, and pubic hair, are found to be pulled out by those affected by this condition. They feel relaxed after pulling out the hair. However, the urge to pull hair returns after some time.

The pattern of hair pulling may vary from one person to another. While some of them pull out a single strand at a time, others like it in bunches. Some may do this continuously for hours. There are some trichotillomania patients, who ingest the hair they have pulled out. In the long term, this may result in serious digestive problems. Even infants and small kids may develop trichotillomania. In some cases, trichotillomania in children may get cured with time.

It has also been noticed that most of the affected people try their best to hide the condition that is manifested with bald spots. They may also try to cook up stories, as an explanation for such hair loss. Trichotillomania is often found to be associated with stress and depression. Even though the causes for this condition are not clear, it is speculated that genetic/environmental factors or childhood trauma could lead to trichotillomania. The role of hormones is also being studied. According to recent studies, chemical imbalance in the brain could be a possible cause for this condition.

Symptoms

The symptoms of trichotillomania include the strong urge to pull out hair from the body and bald patches on the hairy parts of the body, especially the scalp. Even the eyebrows may appear sparse or missing. Some of the affected people like to play with the pulled out hair, while others try to chew and ingest it. Some others are found to inspect the hair root or curl the hair in between the fingers or teeth. Most of them deny such actions, in a vehement manner. Repeated hair pulling may also result in some other conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, that can affect the wrist and forearm. Long-term hair pulling may damage the follicles, thereby affecting chances of hair regrowth. Even depression and anxiety are found in most of the patients. They may experience immense embarrassment, and avoid social contact.

Diagnosis involves tests to rule out any medical cause for hair loss, like ringworm, alopecia, etc. Once all such possibilities are ruled out, the affected person may be sent to a psychiatrist, who will be in a better position to diagnose the condition. The most common treatment for trichotillomania is behavior therapy. Actually, it is habit reversal training, a type of behavior therapy. Apart from that, cognitive therapy techniques and stress relief techniques are also used. In some cases, anti-depression medication may work wonders. Those affected with trichotillomania require emotional support from their friends and family too.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.