Communities nationwide observe trichotillomania awareness during the first week of each October. Trichotillomania is a hair pulling disorder that affects an estimated 3.5 percent of the US population (1), or around 10 million people. By raising awareness of trichotillomania, community members can gather and spread information and various methods of managing hair loss woes.
People with trichotillomania experience the often-uncontrollable urge to pull out their hair, potentially resulting in low self-esteem and social dysfunction. Affected areas may include hair from the scalp, eyebrows, beards, and forearms. The condition usually shows its earliest signs during adolescence, while some people may experience it intermittently throughout adulthood (2).
Some common symptoms of trichotillomania include skin irritation at the affected sites, temporary relief from hair pulling, anxiety, stress build-up, and hair loss due to repeated hair-tugging (3).
The exact cause of trichotillomania remains unknown, with healthcare professionals ascribing it to multiple possibilities, including a genetic history of family members having the condition, or traumatic experiences in childhood, resulting in specific changes to the brain chemistry, which lead to impulsive thought processes (4).
Many trichotillomania treatments involve a strategic approach toward identifying and fixing the underlying cause of stress responsible for the condition. Cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBTs) (5), such as habit reversal training (HRT), have been a popular treatment option for trichotillomania.
HRT guides individuals toward unlearning the hair-pulling responses associated with specific stimuli, through social support and by introducing “competing responses” such as clenching their fists. Simple coping techniques such as deep breathing exercises and maintaining a shorter haircut that deters hair pulling can help supplement ongoing CBT sessions.
Individuals who experience trichotillomania may see signs of hair recovery within four to six months after discontinuing hair-pulling habits.
You might also consider seeking professional consultation from a hair treatment specialist in severe cases of damaged follicles. Some consultants may prescribe advanced trichological methods that stimulate blood circulation to follicles, encouraging hair regrowth from within affected areas.
Raising Awareness About Trichotillomania
Each October, the TLC Foundation (6) dedicates itself to supporting individuals facing body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), such as trichotillomania.
You can participate in Trichotillomania awareness week by joining the TLC BFRB community, attending various talks about community outreach programs, and fostering lasting connections that celebrate acceptance among individuals toward managing the condition with confidence and improved recovery outcomes.
New-U provides a comprehensive collection of informative resources on coping with various conditions related to hair loss, including trichotillomania. In addition, we offer professional hair restoration and treatment to help you regrow your hair confidently.
If you or someone you know is struggling with trichotillomania, New-U can help. Click here to schedule a free consultation.
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American Psychological Association. (n.d.). A thriving practice built on a rare specialty. Monitor on Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/apr03/practice#:~:text=About%20five%20to%2010%20million,milder%20form%20of%20the%20disorder.
Grant, J. E., & Chamberlain, S. R. (2016, September 1). Trichotillomania. The American journal of psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5328413/
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, May 17). Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/trichotillomania/symptoms-causes/syc-20355188#:~:text=Noticeable%20hair%20loss%2C%20such%20as,or%20eating%20pulled%2Dout%20hair
Trichotillomania. DermNet. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://dermnetnz.org/topics/trichotillomania
Franklin, M. E., Zagrabbe, K., & Benavides, K. L. (2011, August). Trichotillomania and its treatment: A review and recommendations. Expert review of neurotherapeutics. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3190970/
TLC Foundation for body-focused repetitive behaviors. TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bfrb.org/