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Child Psychiatrist /Adult Psychiatrist

What is Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling Disorder)?

Updated: Dec 26, 2023

Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling Disorder)

Trichotillomania, or hair-pulling disorder, involves a person repeatedly pulling out their own hair, most commonly from the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelids. Many people twist and play with their hair or bite their hair, but these behaviors are not the same as trichotillomania.

a person cutting hair with a black comb

The hair pulling causes significant distress and problems functioning. The person may avoid work, school or other public situations. The distress can include feeling a loss of control, embarrassment, and shame. Hair pulling may be preceded or accompanied by various emotions such as an increasing sense of tension. It may be triggered by feelings of anxiety or boredom.

a close-up of a person's head

Individuals with trichotillomania make repeated attempts to decrease or stop hair pulling. In the general population, trichotillomania affects an estimated 1%-2% of adults and adolescents in a given year and it is much more common among females. It usually begins around puberty. It may come and go over time, but usually continues if it is not treated. Treatment usually involves cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), including a technique called habit reversal therapy, which can help identify triggers and enhance awareness, disrupting habitual patterns of pulling episodes and helping patients gain more control over their behaviors.

Source: Mayo Clinic - Trichotillomania

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