About Your Hair: Don’t Pull Your Hair Out

By Dr. Linda Amerson

Do you pull your scalp hair out? There is a name for this compulsive, self-inflicted condition. Tri-cho-tilomania is an impulse disorder, characterized by a desire to pull out one’s hair. It is also called trichomania, or trich. This disorder was first identified in 1889 by Hallopeau, and affects 1.4 percent of people with an alopecia condition…more than 10 million people in the US are affected. There are over 100 categories of alopecia. 

Origin—The Origin of this disorder is Trichomalacia, the term applied to damage and twisted hair within the hair follicle, results from damage to the hair root. This occurs during the anagen of hair growth. A habit forms subconsciously.

Ratio—This disorder affects twice as many females, except under the age of six, where the sex ratio is three males to one female. The peak incidence is in the two-six year age group. It may replace thumb sucking. The more severe form affects mainly females from adolescents to teenagers…11-17 years. Common areas include scalp hair, eyebrows and eyelashes; however, any hairy area on the body may become targeted. There are reported cases of infants pulling their hair out…parents can apply a heavy hair oil, such as Vaseline, to make the hair hard to grip, or put gloves on the infant’s hands. In addition, there have been other cases of children who pull their hair may be a symptom of autism.

Trichotillomania is caused by an underlying emotional problem or a definite mental disorder. Other contributors could include depression and isolation. In children, the underlying problem is easy to discern and includes a lack of attention, sibling rivalry, divorced parents, unhappiness at school, learning disability, or mental delay. In adults, the condition is harder to trace. Trich is usually due to a severe psychological disorder, often monosymptomatic hypochondriacal psychosis. Do people grow out of this compulsion? It’s usually a lifelong problem. Trichophagia occurs when people pull their hair out then eat it, causing hairballs in the intestinal tract. As reported by www.lincolnshire.co.uk/news, Jasmine Beever, a 16-year-old girl from England, died in 2017 from this compulsion.

In the teen’s case, the hair ball caused a condition called peritonitis, or inflammation of the lining of the abdomen, causing an ulcer which burst and shut down her vital organs.” Two more alarming Trichophagia cases: a large hairball was removed from an 18-year-old female, weighed 2.5 lbs. in 2017 in the UK. A large 9 lb. hairball was removed in 2014 from an 18-year-old girl in the UK. Trichobezoar occurs when people pull their hair out and chew it. Parents should pay attention to your children. 

Dr. Linda Amerson, Board Certified Trichologist offers Virtual and Clinic Consultations. 817-265-8854