Trichotillomania can be described as the inability to resist or control the urge to pull one's hair, sometimes resulting in noticeable hair loss. This hair pulling often occurs when individuals are feeling a high level of stress, frustration, and/or anxiety. The marked anxiety can trigger a "need" or strong urge to pull. This pulling is often followed by an immediate release of tension and pleasure. Others may pull when excited, tired, or bored as a self-stimulatory activity. Still others may be searching for that "out-of-place" hair or that "good root." For many others, it has become an unconscious activity. For whatever reason the pulling is occurring, individuals often feel embarrassment, guilt, and/or shame. They may attempt to camouflage their pulling areas with make-up, hats, wigs, etc. Pulling often occurs on the scalp and face, including eyebrows and eyelashes. Other locations may include: pubic area, underarms, various body hair, the hair of others, and pets.
Some individuals with Trichotillomania consume their hair, which can cause life threatening medical conditions. If this is the case for you or someone you know, a physician should be contacted immediately.
The preferred treatment for Trichotillomania is Habit Reversal Training (HRT). Through HRT pullers can become aware of when, where, and possibly why they are pulling. By creating this awareness they are then able to build in various Competing Responses and Habit Blockers to assist them with tolerating the urge to pull.