What Is Trichotillomania and How Can You Manage It?
Let’s start a conversation about the condition many deal with.
While people have been dealing with trichotillomania for centuries, the condition has recently entered a bit of limelight. Celebrities like Megan Fox, Amy Schumer, and Katy Perry have bravely spoken about suffering from trichotillomania. In sharing their lifelong struggles with the disorder, they have opened up the conversation, which is so important! We’re going to join in on the dialogue today, as we answer your questions about the condition. What is trichotillomania and how can you manage it? Let’s discuss!
What Is Trichotillomania?
Mayo Clinic defines it by saying, “Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh), also called hair-pulling disorder, is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.”
The disorder is a member of a family of disorders called body-focused repetitive behaviors. Other conditions that fall under the umbrella include skin picking, lip chewing, and even nail biting! Yes, something as common as nail biting falls into the same category. Trich sufferers, you don’t need to feel ashamed or embarrassed.
For some, trichotillomania is connected to a relief of tension or stress. They may feel an overwhelming urge to pull the hair out but then a sense of release and ease once it has been done. For others, it is more of an automatic response. They might do it without realizing or meaning to. This often happens during activities that direct attention away from oneself, like watching television or reading.
Trichotillomania can also develop into an emotional coping mechanism. Hair pulling could feel soothing, thus reducing negative feelings like anxiety, loneliness, or frustration. Alternatively, it could create such a positive sense of satisfaction and relief that it becomes an outlet for positive emotions as well.
Of course, alongside those factors, trichotillomania often builds feelings of shame and embarrassment in those who suffer from it. And, the condition can result in lasting hair loss over time. We asked hair health expert Shab Reslan to weigh in;
She said, “Any repetitive tension on the hair, like pulling due to trichotillomania, can eventually cause permanent damage to the hair follicle. In most cases, the longer one continues to subject their hair to these habits, the less likely the follicle will be able to produce quality hair or even any at all.”
How Do You Know If You Have Trichotillomania?
The answer to this question is simple. If you often feel an overwhelming urge to pull out your hair or eyelashes, you should speak with your doctor.
The part of trichotillomania that isn’t simple is the treatment. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the disorder. However, there are some effective ways to reduce and manage symptoms.
How Can You Manage Trichotillomania?
As we mentioned above, a good first step is to express your concerns with your regular doctor. He or she might then refer you to a dermatologist and/or a clinical psychologist for more targeted and effective approaches to treatment.
Being that trichotillomania is a psychological condition, there isn’t a quick medication-centric fix. In certain cases, SSRIs and clomipramine may be considered an ideal course of treatment. But this depends on the unique impulses and details of an individual’s trich experiences.
Oftentimes, the best course of treatment is therapy. During sessions, the psychologist will help to increase awareness of emotional triggers and teach habit reversal training.
Reslan also shared with us that wearing full wigs or hair accessories like hats and scarves can help you to avoid pulling.
Another key part of managing trichotillomania is supporting hair health. Using the right regimen, you can both inspire regrowth and strengthen existing hair and follicles.
Products with truly hair-supporting ingredients are never a bad thing. But when you have trichotillomania, they can be a particularly worthwhile investment.
The use of supplements to support hair health from within can be a bonus too. And consider this: a supplement that also combats stress could help to reduce the feelings that sometimes trigger hair pulling. Our DeeplyRooted® is a perfect example if we do say so ourselves. With KSM-66® ashwagandha root extract to fight stress, Cococin™ coconut water and Bioperine® to support blood flow, and a host of other highly researched ingredients, it offers a clinically-proven way to support your hair health as you navigate trichotillomania treatment.
No one should have to feel uncomfortable or self-conscious about their hair. If you or someone you love is dealing with trichotillomania, we hope this article has been helpful! And we wish you a successful journey toward managing and healing.