Do You Have Trichotillomania? Do You Pull Out Your Own Hair?

What is "Trich"?

Trichotillomania, or compulsive hair pulling, has many nicknames created by its sufferers, some of which include: Trich, Mister Trichster, Trich Monster (in reference to a trich theory), and more. Trichotillomania is the irresistible urge to pull out one's hair from their own head, face, legs, pubic region, underarms, anywhere on the body with hair. There usually is an increasing amount of tension before pulling out the hair or when attempting to resist the behavior, and there is pleasure, gratification, or relief when the act has been completed. They are often overwhelmed with strong cravings to feel the sensations of the hair being pulled, to see the "big roots," and/or to get out kinky, wiry, or out-of-place hairs. Almost every sufferer's reasons for pulling are different, but it is not uncommon for people to "play" with the hair, or even to eat the root or entire hair.

"Playing" with the hairs is often an act that many find to be the most embarrassing and is hard for lots to admit. Not only is the hair carefully examined, but the root end may be "painted" with on a part of the face (most commonly the lips) or other sensitive areas of the body. Wiry hairs are often felt over and over again and sometimes a collection of the hairs is kept for later cravings. The actual ingesting of the hair can become a very dangerous act since hair is naturally not digested and will remain in the stomach. Hair ingestion can lead to the development of gastric and/or intestinal trichobezoars (hair balls) which can be life threatening and, when large, must be surgically removed. If you or someone you know eats their hair, please have them seek medical attention ASAP.

Who Has Trichotillomania?

People who suffer from this disorder are affectionately known as "Trichsters" or "Trichotillomaniacs." Because people are almost always incredibly ashamed of their behavior, it is hard today to give the exact number of sufferers. Historically the disorder was thought to be very rare, but nowadays more are seeking help and the numbers are estimated to be anywhere from 0.5% to 3.5% of the population. About 93% of these are women (although this may just be a non-accurate statistic since men are proven less likely to seek help). Pulling usually starts at puberty, but the earliest known case has been reported at 5 months of age.

What's The Cure?

Trichotillomania is usually a terminal disorder and has no cure, although some people may simply "grow out" of hair pulling. The effect of medications varies greatly from person to person and is totally up to you if you want to pursue it as an option. Other possible impacts on your Trich include: diet, exercise, and mood (where the medication comes in handy). Therapy is also known to help in most cases, so talk to your local counselor.

Am I Alone on HelpingTeens?

Absolutely not! The Disorders forum (located in the Support Groups) is home to at least 30 known hair pullers, although not all, if any, of these members have been professionally diagnosed. If you have any questions regarding your illness, please feel free to post in Disorders and rest assured that you will get well-educated advice. Please stay strong and have faith in yourself.