Trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder) is an impulsive urge to pull one’s hair, eye brows or other areas of the body. Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves patchy bald spots.
What is Trichotillomania?
It is a mental disorder that carries an irresistible urge to pull out hair. The behavior occurs to the point of dramatic hair loss.
The most common areas for hair pulling include the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or any hair on the body. It is a type of impulse control disorder that involves failed attempts to resist impulses, urges or to act in ways that are harmful or hazardous.
In children, trichotillomania equally affects males and females. However, in adults, it is more common in women than in men.
Symptoms of Trichotillomania
- Repeatedly pulling hair out from the scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes
- A strong impulse to pull hair, marked by feelings of relief after the hair is pulled
- Patchy bald areas on the scalp or other areas of the body
- Missing eyelashes or eyebrows
- Chewing or eating pulled-out hair
- Playing with pulled-out hair
- Rubbing pulled-out hair across your lips or face
Causes of Trichotillomania
The exact cause of trichotillomania is still unknown; however it is widely linked to both biological and psychological elements. Progressive research links psychiatric impulse control disorders and certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
These neurotransmitters help nerve cells in transferring messages to each other. An imbalance can affect how the brain controls impulses. Scientific research also suggests that stress can trigger the impulsive behavior.
Diagnosis of Trichotillomania
If you have symptoms of trichotillomania, you doctor will conduct a complete medical history and physical exam. There are currently no specific tests to diagnose trichotillomania.
Nonetheless, it requires both a dermatological and psychiatric evaluation. Diagnosis of trichotillomania maybe hampered due to the person’s reluctance to disclose their hair pulling behavior.
Physical exam includes examination of your skin, hair, and scalp. A piece of tissue may be removed as a result of a biopsy to determine the cause, such as a scalp infection.