Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder)- Treatment, Causes and Symptoms


Trichotillomania describes an impulsive disorder of the mind where individuals cannot prevent the urge to pull out their hair from various body parts like eyebrows/eyelashes, scalp, beard, or mustaches. It is also related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


In Trichotillomania, a person may be dealing with stress or anxiety where they cannot control the impulse to pull out their hair. Hair pulling might be triggered by or accompanied by various emotional states like nervousness and stress. Hair pulling can bring about sentiments of delight and joy.  

Symptoms associated with Trichotillomania 

Apart from the irresistible urge to pull out hair, other symptoms of Trichotillomania include:

  • The tense feeling before pulling the hair or when attempting to fight the temptation to remove hair
  • Relief and fulfillment after pulling the hair
  • Bald and bare patches in places where hair was pulled out
  • Notable baldness and hair loss

Various other concealed symptoms are biting, chewing hair, and emotional distress during the pulling out of hair.

What causes Trichotillomania?

No single cause for the occurrence of Trichotillomania has been ascertained so far. However, scientists believe that it can stem from a variety of factors and their combinations.  A few common causes are as follows:

  1. Genetics: A modification in a specific gene may prompt Trichotillomania in certain individuals.
  2. Mental health issues: Various studies have concluded that Trichotillomania is the reflection of a mental health issue wherein pulling out hair can be a way to cope with emotional stress or anxiety.
  3. Abnormalities in Brain: Brain scans such as MRI have also revealed brain disorders in certain individuals with Trichotillomania.

Major Risk Factors of Trichotillomania 

The following are some common factors that can increase the risk of having this mental disorder:

  • Age factor: Trichotillomania normally manifests during the early teenage years between the age of 10-13. At times the disorder can also be seen in infants. 
  • Stress: Stressed life may trigger this medical condition as well. Stress can be physical, emotional, or mental. 

People who have Trichotillomania may also suffer from other mental health disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  

Diagnosis of Trichotillomania 

Pulling the hair out with uncontrollable intense is the common diagnosis and evaluation method for a patient with Trichotillomania. If an individual experiences any triggering impulses to pull out the hair, it is necessary for the person to visit a general practitioner or preferably a psychiatrist.

The practitioner checks for unusual bald spots that may appear different from the normal baldness due to aging and skin infections. Other common examinations and evaluations include psychiatric methods to assess a person’s mental health.  

When to See the Doctor?

Seeking the help of a general physician or psychiatrist is highly recommended if the person is experiencing the symptoms, which can help treat the disorder. 

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Complications of Trichotillomania 

It can lead to infection, skin harm, and permanent hair loss, further prompting confidence and self-esteem issues. You may disengage yourself socially to conceal the patches due to pulling out of hair in extreme cases.

Is it possible to treat Trichotillomania? 

There is no complete treatment method or a quick way to treat the disorder. However, some treatment options include changing behaviors, daily habits, therapies, and training to control the urgent need to pull out hair.

Psychotherapy is one of the effective treatments for mental disorders. Psychotherapy for Trichotillomania may incorporate psychological treatment, which endeavors to recognize and adjust the thoughts and feelings that lead to specific practices, for example, hair pulling. Common treatments for people with Trichotillomania incorporate reversing the daily habits, emotional supports, and controlling the impulse to pull out hair.

Also Read About: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Training methods are also used for patients with Trichotillomania, such as 

  1. Contending response training: The individual works on replacing the hair pulling habit with an alternate habit. This training is useful for children and teens.
  2. Inspiration and consistency training: The individual participates in exercises and practices that help them to remember the significance of staying with the treatment. This may incorporate accepting praise from family members for progress made during treatment.
  3. Relaxation training: The individual practices unwinding strategies, for example, reflection and profound relaxation. These methods of training help them to ease their pressure and stress and ultimately reduce the hair pulling.
  4. Generalization training: The individual practices their new abilities in various circumstances to get programmed in their daily routine.
  5. Family therapy: Family therapy is especially valuable when a kid or youngster has a significant issue that is influencing the other family members, as may be the case with Trichotillomania. Your family can assist you in addressing the issue that is making you pull your hair. In this treatment, a counsellor will meet the entire family and study their perspectives and connections to comprehend the issues the family is having. It encourages relatives to discuss the issues better with one another.
  6. Hypnosis: is also a proven treatment method which can be utilized to adjust your condition of consciousness. The hypnotist would then be able to recommend a solution like changing your conduct. While you are in this modified state, you might be bound to acknowledge the recommended changes and quit the habit of pulling your hair.

Can Trichotillomania be treated using medications? 

An assortment of medicines has been utilized to treat people with Trichotillomania. Since there are not any specific medications available for Trichotillomania, certain commonly prescribed medicines are antidepressants, relaxants, atypical antipsychotics, and N-acetyl-cysteine.


No strategies are known to prevent the development of Trichotillomania. However, stress management techniques might improve the overall mental health. 


Patients with Trichotillomania commonly suffer from other mental disorders. With continued therapy and medications,  it is possible to control Trichotillomania. The treatment  supports them emotionally during their difficult period.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is Trichotillomania fully curable? 

Yes, it is possible to cure Trichotillomania with certain therapies and medications which have improved the condition for the patients, although there might be recurrences

How long does it take to cure Trichotillomania? 

It is possible to stop the behavior of pulling hair within 2 to 4 weeks, which depends on the patient’s cooperation level.

Is the cost of treating Trichotillomania high? 

The treatment cost depends on the amount of time and the process that is opted for by the doctor.