Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that makes people incessantly pull out their hair. Many younger patients who suffer from this condition tend to focus on hair pulling on the scalp.
Trichotillomania is commonly experienced by women, with a ratio of 4:1 female to male . The number of cases also varies greatly between age groups, for example, 11% of college-aged individuals admit to pulling their hair at least occasionally .
However, patients may start to also pull hair from their eyebrows, eyelashes, or other parts of their body where hair grows.
As you can imagine, when you’re constantly pulling out your hair, this can really damage the hair follicles over time and cause hair loss.
Like many mental health disorders, sufferers will experience Trichotillomania in a different way. That being said, the most common symptoms of the condition include:
Trichotillomania can be a condition that really affects the daily lives of people who suffer from it. It can cause a deterioration in mental health and bring on feelings of social anxiety. Physically, this hair-pulling habit can lead to itching, tingling, bald spots, skin irritation, and thinning hair.
Experts have been aware of Trichotillomania since the 19th century however, there has been very little research conducted into its causes, side effects, and impact on sufferers’ lives.
Often, Trichotillomania is grouped with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but sufferers have much less in common than people have long thought. Researchers are currently unaware of the main reason why Trichotillomania occurs, with many experts torn on whether it’s predominantly spurred on by genetics or environmental factors.
Psychosocial dysfunction, low self-esteem and social anxiety are also common triggers for Trichotillomania patients, with nearly one-third of adults with the condition reporting a low, or very low, quality of life .
One study found that hair pulling and Trichotillomania are more common when relatives also suffer from the condition . However, due to the lack of research on the subject, it’s hard to form a strong opinion.
Most people develop Trichotillomania when they are aged between 10 and 13  and it’s commonly used as a coping mechanism for feelings of stress or anxiety. Many people do it without realising, only becoming aware of what they’ve done after they’ve already started pulling hair.
Many women who suffer from Trichotillomania note that they have an increased urge to pull out their hair during their menstrual cycle when their hormones change which can impact the symptoms of Trichotillomania . Other studies have found that in some cases, female Trichotillomania can be brought on by hormonal changes during pregnancy .
It’s often difficult to diagnose your own hair loss. So it’s important to get a professional to examine your hair and scalp, find out the underlying cause(s), and offer you a bespoke treatment for female hair loss.
Trichotillomania is a mental condition, so it’s often not something that someone can simply stop. It can take time, and a lot of effort, to reverse the hair pulling habit habit.
If you’re suffering from Trichotillomania, our advice is to visit your GP who will be able to provide you with some help. The sooner you’re able to get treatment for your condition, the less long-term damage it will cause.
If you have noticed that you’ve started to lose hair as a result of your Trichotillomania, there are a few things that you can do to encourage hair growth.
Trichotillomania can be caused by stress and anxiety, so it’s important to prevent these feelings wherever possible. One of the easiest ways you can do this is by adopting a good daily routine that can ease your feelings of distress which in turn will help to stop you from turning to hair pulling.
Whether you need to wake up earlier to have more ‘me time’ in the morning or need to incorporate daily walks or wellness activities to settle your mind, anything that slows you down will work wonders for your mental health.
To get your hair growing back long and strong, there are a variety of different supplements that you can take. Skin and hair supplements can help improve growth and strengthen the hair from the root, especially when you have deficiencies in important minerals.
Essential oils, like lavender oil, are used by many people as they supposedly help to stimulate hair growth. Applying a small amount of oil to the areas where you experience hair loss daily can help you on your journey to regrow your hair.
If your hands are busy, you won’t be as tempted to pull at your hair and cause further hair loss. Whether you use fidget spinners or just get involved in sport, anything that keeps you moving and your focus away from hair pulling will help your hair to keep growing.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of therapy that is largely focused on your feelings and behaviours. It will help you to address the situations where you feel the urge to pull your hair and learn how you can distract yourself by doing something else.
There is also habit reversal training (HRT), an effective type of therapy  that works similarly to CBT in identifying and replacing triggers of Trichotillomania.
You may also consider taking hair loss treatments. For men, some of the most popular include Finasteride and Dutasteride. Or there is also Minoxidil (Rogaine) which both men and women can take.
Treatments like these are used to promote hair growth, and won’t be effective for people who continually pull their hair. Therefore it is important to stop hair-pulling if you plan on using these medications to treat hair loss.
Suppose you’ve managed to stop pulling your hair, but are still concerned about the hair loss that you’ve experienced. In that case, one of the most effective ways to improve your hairline and scalp is by getting a hair transplant from Wimpole Clinic, which was voted the best hair transplant clinic of 2023 (and for the past 3 years running).
At Wimpole Clinic, we specialise in FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) transplants and FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantations) which are ideal for people who have excessively pulled at the hair on their scalps.
We also offer beard transplants and eyebrow transplants if these are the areas that you normally pull.
If you’d like to discuss more of the options available to you, schedule a no-obligation consultation call with one of our experts today.
Simply fill in your details in the form below and we'll get in touch with you shortly.