What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania, also called hair-pulling disorder, is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.

Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves patchy bald spots, which causes significant distress and can interfere with social or work functioning. People with trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise the loss of hair.

For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the compulsive urge to pull hair is overwhelming.

What are the symptoms of Trichotillomania?

Signs and symptoms of trichotillomania often include:

  • Repeatedly pulling your hair out, typically from your scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes, but sometimes from other body areas, and sites may vary over time
  • An increasing sense of tension before pulling, or when you try to resist pulling
  • A sense of pleasure or relief after the hair is pulled
  • Noticeable hair loss, such as shortened hair or thinned or bald areas on the scalp or other areas of your body, including sparse or missing eyelashes or eyebrows
  • Preference for specific types of hair, rituals that accompany hair pulling or patterns of hair pulling
  • Biting, chewing or eating pulled-out hair
  • Playing with pulled-out hair or rubbing it across your lips or face
  • Repeatedly trying to stop pulling out your hair or trying to do it less often without success
  • Significant distress or problems at work, school or in social situations related to pulling out your hair

Many people who have trichotillomania also pick their skin, bite their nails or chew their lips. Sometimes pulling hairs from pets or dolls or from materials, such as clothes or blankets, may be a sign. Most people with trichotillomania pull hair in private and generally try to hide the disorder from others.

How is Trichotillomania treated?

Following a thorough psychiatric evaluation, a Remedy psychiatric provider will create an individualized treatment plan for each patient with Trichotillomania as every patient has a unique experience and specific needs to be addressed. The prescribed treatment plan will depend on the patient, the severity of the disorder, and how he or she is currently responding to therapy or medication.