Trichotillomania/ Compulsive Hair Pulling

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Trichotillomania is an obsessive and compulsive habit of pulling hairs .

Common areas for hair to be pulled out are the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, arms, hands, and pubic hairs. Some less common areas include the pubic area, underarms, beard, and chest.

It is also known as impulse control disorder by DSM-IV, is the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair leading to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment.

Children and teens try to hide this compulsive impulse from their near ones as they feel ashamed and low self esteemed.
Age / Sex groups affected by Trichotillomania/ Compulsive Hair Pulling 

Trichotillomania may be present in infants, but the peak age of onset is 9 to 13.
It may affect as much as 4% of the population. Women are four times more likely to be affected than men.

Causes of Trichotillomania/ Compulsive Hair Pulling 

• Trichotillomania is a type of impulsive control disorder. Its causes are not clearly understood.

• Environment is a large factor which affects hair pulling.

• Sedentary activities such as being in a relaxed environment are conducive to hair pulling, example of a sedentary activity promoting hair pulling is lying in a bed while trying to rest or fall asleep.

• Anxiety , depression and OCD ( obsessive compulsive disorder )

• Hair puling in children due to sheer boredom. When the child has nothing to do and he remains ideal, during this period he may have the compulsive feeling of curling and pulling of hair.

• Local skin problems such as ringworm etc can also lead to scratching and puling of hairs.

• Abnormalities in the natural brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine may play a role in trichotillomania.

• Nail biting and skin picking have also been associated with trichotillomania.

Trichotillomania/ Compulsive Hair Pulling Signs and Symptoms

• People suffering from trichotillomania often pull only one hair at a time and these hair pull episodes can last for hours at a time.
• Symptoms usually begin before age 17. The hair may come out in round patches or across the scalp. The person may pluck other hairy areas, such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, or body hair.
• Bare patches or all around (diffuse) loss of hair
• Constant tugging, pulling, or twisting of hair
• Increasing sense of tension before the hair pulling
• Other self-injury behaviors
• Sense of relief, pleasure, or gratification after the hair pulling
• Playing with pulled out hair
• Hair pulling in some is a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, anxiety, tension, loneliness, fatigue or frustration

Investigations of Trichotillomania/ Compulsive Hair Pulling 

Physical examination of hair, scalp and skin

Treatment of Trichotillomania/ Compulsive Hair Pulling 

• Medications such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown effective in reducing some symptoms other are – clomipramine( tricyclic antidepressant ) , Fluoxetin (Prozac ) .

• Physician’s consultation is necessary to rule out skin problems such as ringworm and other dermatological issues.

• Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the child to stop this unnatural behavior of pulling the hairs.

• Medical therapy may be required to reduce anxiety and stress needed in few adolescent and teenagers.

Prognosis of Trichotillomania/ Compulsive Hair Pulling 

Trichotillomania that begins in younger children may go away without treatment.

Complications of Trichotillomania/ Compulsive Hair Pulling 

• Emotional distress- people report of feeling shame, humiliation and embarrassment and experience low self-esteem.

• Patient avoid swimming, haircuts and windy weather. People with trichotillomania may wear wigs, style their hair to disguise bald patches or wear false eyelashes.

• Hairballs – Eating your hair may lead to a large, matted hairball (trichobezoar) in your digestive tract.

Homeopathic treatment for Trichotillomania/ Compulsive Hair Pulling 

Every branch of science has its own scope and limitations, so does Homeopathy. Although Homeopathy has a lot of very good remedies for curing & controlling auto-immune disorders, male & female disorders, children and elderly people.

In cases of any emergency situation such as poisoning, serious abdominal complaints (such as acute appendicitis /pancreatitis), fractures, injury, and accidents should be treated first taken to emergency. However a patient can consult his homeopathic physician after recovering from his initial phase. Please note Homeopathy plays no role in treating any nutritional disorders.

The scope of Homeopathy is limited; it is the sole responsibility of the physician to decide upon the cure – by looking into the complete nature of the disease, onset and stage of the disease and then act accordingly.