People lose their hair for many different reasons. Often, it boils down to genetics. In other cases, hair loss stems from medical factors. And in some situations, people actually pull out all their hair—not voluntarily, but under compulsion.
This is basically what happens to individuals who struggle with trichotillomania. A stress condition, trichotillomania leads to uncontrollable urges to pull out one’s own hair. In most cases, this is hair from the scalp, but in other cases, it may be from the eyelashes, eyebrows, or other parts of the body.
This is a serious condition, and the damage it can do to the hair and scalp is obviously substantial—but what causes this condition? And what can be done to treat it?
Causes and Effects of Trichotillomania
Scientists actually haven’t reached a verdict on what causes trichotillomania, exactly—though it is assumed to be an impulse control disorder. Those who have the condition do damage to themselves, but they cannot control these impulses. In fact, the impulses are often a means to cope with stressful situations.
While trichotillomania is usually described as a hair-pulling disorder, its symptoms can actually be varied. Some of the more common ones include:
- Repeated pulling, twisting, or chewing of hair.
- Feeling tension before hair pulling, or not being able to control the urge to pull hair.
- Intense relief after hair pulling.
- Social problems or anxieties due to hair pulling.
Additionally, trichotillomania can also have a major impact on the hair and scalp. Of course, repeated hair pulling can lead to bare patches on the head. It also does scarring to the scalp and to the hair follicles, though, which can make it difficult to regrow hair. In other words, trichotillomania, when not treated, can actually lead to permanent hair loss.
Prevalence of Trichotillomania
Something else that’s worth asking: Who is most likely to have this condition? And, on a related topic, how common is it?
Trichotillomania is more common than you might imagine. In fact, some studies indicate that as many as 2.5 million Americans struggle with this condition. As for who can get it, trichotillomania impacts women more than it does men, though there are many men who do have the condition. The bottom line is that it is an equal opportunity offender and that it is prevalent enough to warrant awareness.
Treatment for Trichotillomania
Because this is a stress disorder first and foremost, we recommend seeing a doctor about it, and perhaps getting a recommendation for therapy. It could be valuable to speak with a therapist and work on healthier ways to mitigate stress. Unfortunately, there is no way to cure trichotillomania, so improving stress management skills is vital. Behavioral training has been proven to work, while most medications used to treat trichotillomania come up short.
As for hair loss, this too can be addressed. The best treatment course will depend on the extent of the hair loss, as well as on the nature of any scarring to the scalp and follicles. Some of the recommended options might include laser hair therapy, topical solutions, or a hair replacement system. Wigs can also provide some short-term comfort. No matter how much hair you have lost, or how much scarring has been done to the scalp, there are ways to mask the effects and to help you look and feel like yourself again.
Get Treated for Trichotillomania
The best way to determine your treatment course is to have an evaluation and a consultation. Raleigh Hair Concepts can provide you with these services, and recommend the most effective way for you to replace the hair that you’ve lost to trichotillomania. We provide all consultations in private, comfortable, one-on-one settings, and our goal is to explain both the why and the what next of trichotillomania.
Remember that this is a more common disorder than most people might imagine, but there is no shame in seeking help for it. Hope and recovery can happen, and lost hair can be replaced. The first step is to come talk with us. Visit Raleigh Hair Concepts to start the conversation