Ask Jodi

Are you pulling your hair out?

Posted on by Jodi LoGerfo

Question:  Can I be causing my own hair loss problem? I have a habit of tugging and twisting on individual hairs every day and even pulling some out and I've noticed some spots where my hair seems to be thinning. What should I do?

Answer: Well, its sounds like Trichotillomania.

This is actually a hair loss disease, but it is psychological in nature rather than physical. The disease is pronounced: trik- oh-till-oh-may-nee-ah. People also call it ‘Trich’ or TTM for short. I can tell if a patient is suffering from this disease rather than something physical such as pattern baldness or auto-immune such as alopecia areata because  if I feel stubble in the bald spots, it tells me that hair is growing back normally, although it might have been removed.  Bald patches of alopecia areata feel smooth and so do pattern baldness spots because hair is not growing back normally and the growth cycle is disrupted for a physical reason. I suggest a visit to a dermatologist to get an accurate diagnosis. It's a compulsion to pull your hair out…literally. If you feel a strong compulsion to pull out hairs, as you said, you may very well be causing your hair loss. In some patients, the compulsion to pull at hairs is so strong, they feel they can't stop, but others can learn to control it through awareness or will power. Trich does not affect everyone who suffers from it the same way or to the same degree. Some pull hair deliberately and some pull hair out unconsciously and some people pull only scalp hair while others may pull facial hair such as eyelashes and eyebrows or body hair on legs and arms. Some patients pull any and all hair. Some Trich patients just pick up hairs and roll them between fingers. Hair loss can become permanent The longer the hair pulling and twisting habit goes on, the more severe the hair loss may be. In extreme cases, hair loss can become permanent because hair follicles can become damaged to the point of death. In milder cases, hair keeps re-growing, although eyelashes and eyebrows take a notoriously long time to grow back. A dermatologist can confirm the health of hair follicles and a prognosis for hair re-growth.

  • What's the prognosis and treatment for Trich? Researchers are unsure how the compulsion to pull out hair starts.
  • Past statistics on the disease show that Trich can strike happy, well-adjusted people as often as emotionally disturbed or depressed people. these same statistics show that Trich behavior usually starts in early adolescence and that 90 percent of sufferers are women.
  • I think that the statistics may be a little more skewed towards women because Trich is a less satisfying compulsion and less noticeable in men with short hair and male pattern baldness and maybe less men seek medical attention for such a habit. Current research on Trich shows that  similar brain chemical imbalances that cause depression or bulimia can cause Trich behavior and treatment with anti-depressant medications may help curb the compulsion to pull at hairs and allow hair to grow back. A Psychologist can help you determine your best course of action once a diagnosis is made.

-Jodi

‹ First  < 4 5 6