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Why do I pull out my hair?

First, you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans suffer from something called Trichotillomania, also known as hair pulling disorder. It is part of a group of behaviors known as Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs).


It affects more than 2 in 50 people at some time in their life.

It often starts in childhood and equally affects both men and women. Later in life it mostly affects women. Without treatment, it tends to become a chronic condition that comes and goes throughout life.

Trichotillomania is classified as an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Related Disorder. The severity of hair pulling can vary but many people of trichotillomania have noticeable hair loss which they attempt to hide. Many sufferers try to camouflage their thinning hair or plucked eyebrows with makeup, scarves, hairstyles, or wigs.

Individuals suffering from trichotillomania often feel shame and embarrassment and will avoid activities and social situations which may lead them to feel vulnerable to be discovered.

For some Trichotillomania is a mild problem. But for some, Trichotillomania can lead to anxiety and emotion distress. Physical affects can also include pruritus, tissue damage, infection and repetitive motion disorder.

Children usually outgrow the condition if it is managed conservatively. In adults, treatment is usually cognitive behavior therapy or Habit Reversal Training. It can also sometimes include the medication clomipramine.

Support sites such as The TLC Foundation are excellent online resources. A documentary film about Trichotillomania, Bad Hair Life, was the 2003 winner of the International Health & Medical Media Award for the best film in psychiatry and the winner of the 2004 Superfest Film Festival Merit Award.

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