Trichotillomania is repetitive twisting and twirling of the hair. The hair loss is usually in a well-defined area with shortened, broken-off hairs and early regrowth of hair. The scalp is the most commonly involved site, but eyelashes and eyebrows may be also be involved. The hair loss can also be patch and poorly defined.
Trichotillomania is a type of compulsive behavior. Its causes are not clearly understood. It may affect as much as 4% of the population with symptoms usually beginning before age 17.
These symptoms are usually seen:
- An uneven appearance to the hair
- Bare patches or all around (diffuse) loss of hair
- Bowel blockage (obstruction) if people eat the hair they pull out
- Constant tugging, pulling, or twisting of hair
- Denying the hair pulling
- Hair regrowth that feels like stubble in the bare spots
- Increasing sense of tension before the hair pulling
- Other self-injury behaviors
- Sense of relief, pleasure or gratification after the hair pulling
People with this disorder often will seek the help of a doctor who treats skin problems (dermatologist).
Experts do not agree on the use of medication for treatment. Behavioral therapy and habit reversal may be effective.
Early detection is the best form of prevention because it leads to early treatment. Decreasing stress can help because stress may increase compulsive behavior.