iStock 927481012 Trichotillomania for hairloss - Trichotillomania: A Hair Loss Condition Not Well Understood


One in 50 people feel a strong compulsion to pull out their hair, and researchers aren’t entirely sure why. It is a condition known as trichotillomania, which affects individuals over the age of 12 up through adulthood. Hair pulling is not necessarily associated with mental illness, as there are many happy, well-adjusted people who have it, while in others it may be a symptom of larger issues such as anxiety, stress, trauma and other emotional disturbances.

The first challenge for most patients with trichotillomania is to acknowledge it. This hair pulling leads to bald patches on the scalp (some patients pull eyelashes, eyebrow hair, or facial or body hair), and a medical doctor such as a dermatologist may be the first to make a diagnosis. Treatments suggested by the Trichotillomania Learning Center include cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, support groups and alternative therapies, such as biofeedback, hypnosis, dietary changes, meditation, yoga, prayer and herbal treatments.

Hair loss salons that specialize in “trich” should be sensitive to the psychological underpinnings and affects of this condition. Parents of children with trichotillomania have a difficult time with the unexplained hair pulling and the bald patches that result, and they need to be part of the treatment as well. Ultimately, treatment must be compassionate and objective. “We don’t make value judgments as to the reason for your hair loss,” explains a Cincinnati salon proprietor.

Often, the hair can grow back. A hair specialist can examine bald patches to determine if hair pulling has caused permanent or temporary damage — existence of hair stubble is an indication the roots are intact.