Here, you can find out everything you wanted to know about Trichotillomania (or at least we hope so!). You can click (or touch) each of the headings below to find out more about specific aspects of the condition.
We hope you find the information useful and if you do, please feel free to share it.
Trichotillomania, thankfully, is known by a much easier name; hair pulling. It is a long-term, chronic condition whereby people have the urge to pull out the strands of hair on their head, arms, legs, pubic area or even eyelashes.
Technically, it is classed as a Body-Focussed Repetitive Behaviour (BFRB). Because trichotillomaniacs find it VERY difficult to stop pulling their hair (because it's a compulsive action), it has links to OCD.
As nature of the condition suggests, those living with the illness will often undergo hair loss. This can go on to affect how they feel about their looks, making them feel guilty or embarrassed and negatively impacts on their self-esteem.
Those with trichotillomania generally don't pull their hair to hurt or harm themselves. It is often done to relieve tension or stress that has been building up in their lives.
Many do it instinctively and don't even realise they are doing it at the time. This is known as automatic, as opposed to focussed, when it is done intentionally. It is not an 'either / or' situation.
Depending on the mood or situation, people may do it automatically, whilst at other times it may be focussed pulling.
The symptoms of trichotillomania are fairly easy to spot, even if the underlying causes are not. Symptoms vary between mild and severe and can include:
- Pulling your hair repeatedly, to the point where hair loss becomes obvious and noticeable.
- The absence of other medical conditions that might cause loss of hair, i.e. a skin or scalp condition.
- Feeling tension or anxiety which is relieved when hair is pulled out.
- Affecting your daily life to the point where it causes you distress.
- Playing with the hair that has been pulled. This can include biting, chewing or even eating the hair.
Many people with trichotillomania also find that they pick their skin, bite their fingernails or chew the skin on the inside of their lips, but this is not always the case.
WHAT CAUSES TRICHOTILLOMANIA?
Trichotillomania often occurs in time of stress or anxiety. There is no hard and fast rule about what causes it, but many people believe it is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. An imbalance in your natural brain chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, may also play a part in the development of trichotillomania.
If the conditions begins to develop during childhood, then the split between male and female is about equal. As adults, more women seek treatment for it than men, but this is often because women are more likely to seek help for the condition than us blokes!
If you suffer with Trichotillomania, there may be some organisations on our Where To Turn pages that can help you. If not, and you know of one, please let us know and we'll look into it.
Also, if you'd like to share your experiences of living with trichtillomania with our community so they can better understand how it feels, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.