Trichotillomania Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Trichotillomania Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention


Trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling disorder, is a psychiatric condition that involves an irresistible urge to pull hair from the scalp, eyebrows, or other parts of the body, despite trying to stop.

Removing hair from the scalp can leave bald patches, which can cause significant stress and interfere with social and work functioning. People with trichotillomania may try various things to hide their hair loss.

For some people, the trichotillomania that occurs can be mild and handled properly. However, for others, the compulsive urge to pull hair can be very disturbing. Several treatment options have helped many people reduce or stop hair pulling.

Trichotillomania Symptom

Recognizable signs and symptoms of trichotillomania include the following:

  • Recurrent pulling of hair, usually from the scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes, but sometimes from other areas of the body. Body parts can also change over time.
  • Increased discomfort before plucking, or when trying to resist the urge to pluck.
  • Satisfaction or relief after hair loss.
  • Noticeable hair loss, such as shorter or thinner hair, and patching of the scalp or other areas of the body, including sparse or absent eyelashes or eyebrows.
  • Having preferences for certain hair types, as well as performing certain rituals when pulling hair.
  • Biting, chewing, or swallowing hair that is pulled out.
  • Playing with the hair that is pulled out, and attach it to the lips or face.
  • Repeatedly trying to stop or reduce the action of pulling hair, with no success.
  • Experiencing problems at work, school, or social situations related to hair pulling.

Many people with the disorder trichotillomania also pick at the skin, bite their nails, or chew their lips. Sometimes, pulling hair from pets or stuffed animals, as well as pulling material from clothing or bedding, can be a sign. Most people with trichotillomania pull their hair out when they’re alone, trying to hide the disorder from others.

In some people with trichotillomania, hair pulling can be a focused or deliberate activity to relieve tension or stress. However, for some others, the activity of pulling hair can occur without realizing it, for example when you are bored, reading, or watching television broadcasts. The same person can also do hair removal knowingly or unknowingly, depending on the situation and mood.

Trichotillomania Reason

The cause of trichotillomania is not known for certain. However, like many other complex disorders, it is thought to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Several factors are thought to increase the risk of developing trichotillomania, including:

  • Family history. Genetics can play a role in the development of the condition trichotillomania, and this disorder can increase the risk in people with close family members who have the condition.
  • Age. Trichotillomania generally develops just before or during the early teenage years, most often between the ages of 10 and 13. This condition often lasts a lifetime.
  • Other health conditions. People with trichotillomania can also experience other health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • stress. Situations or events that trigger stress can cause some people to experience trichotillomania.


Trichotillomania is generally diagnosed after a doctor conducts a detailed medical interview and in-person physical exam. Evaluations that can be done to determine whether a person has trichotillomania include:

  • Check the degree of baldness that occurs
  • Ask questions or discuss baldness
  • Rule out other possible causes that can lead to hair loss or hair loss
  • Identify any physical or mental abnormalities that can be associated with hair removal
  • Check whether the observed signs and symptoms meet the diagnostic criteria for trichotillomania according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

Trichotillomania Treatment

Research on the treatment of trichotillomania is still limited. However, several types of treatment have helped many individuals to reduce or stop hair pulling.

Several types of treatment that can be done for trichotillomania include:

  • Therapy. Some types of therapy that can be done are behavioral therapy to recognize situations that trigger hair pulling and how to change that behavior, cognitive therapy to recognize wrong beliefs related to hair pulling, and acceptance therapy to understand the urge to pull hair without doing it.
  • Treatment. Although there is no treatment specifically aimed at treating trichotillomania, doctors can prescribe certain medications for conditions the person is experiencing that could be related to hair pulling.


Because the cause of trichotillomania is not known with certainty, there are no proven prevention methods to prevent the condition from occurring. However, proper early detection and treatment can be done to prevent further deterioration of health conditions.

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