Do you have a need to pull out your hair from your scalp, eyelashes or anywhere else on your body?
Many of us worry about our hair. Whether it’s pulling out a couple of greys, waxing your legs or taking care of an errant facial hair, there’s nothing inherently wrong with hair removal.
But for some people, the compulsion to pull out hair can be quite problematic. These people might be suffering from a condition known as Trichotillomania (also known as Trich or TTM). TTM is chronic and repetitive hair pulling.
Hair pulling is a disorder that causes people to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, genitals, underarms, face, chest, legs or anywhere else on the body.
The condition can vary greatly in severity, and can cause physical pain or skin infections if it’s left untreated.
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Hair Pulling is particularly prevalent in children, but can affect people of any age. For some, the condition is mild and can be stopped with a bit of extra awareness and concentration. For others, at times the urge may be so strong that it makes thinking of anything else nearly impossible.
Symptoms of Hair Pulling include:
- Recurrent, compulsive pulling out the hair on one’s head or face
- Recurrent, compulsive pulling out the hair on ones body, including genitals
- Using fingernails to pull out hair, including digging for ingrown hairs
- Using tweezers, pins or other mechanical devices to pull out hair
- Visible bumps, scars or skin damage due to pulling out hair
- Permanent hair loss due to pulling
- Eating hair after it’s been pulled out
- Using hats, scarves, long sleeved shirts or false eyelashes to hide hair loss
- Social isolation to avoid embarrassment
Often, but not always, Hair Pulling episodes are preceded by a high level of tension and a strong “urge”. Likewise, hair pulling is usually, but not always, followed by a sensation of relief or pleasure. Hair pulling is usually done alone, often while watching TV, reading, talking on the phone, driving or while grooming in the bathroom.
Most people have heard of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but many are unaware of what’s called “OCD Spectrum Disorders”. One category of “OCD Spectrum Disorders” is called Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors or BFRBs. Two of the most common BFRBs are Hair Pulling and Skin Picking Disorder (SPD). BFRB’s can also include other behaviors such as nail biting or biting the skin inside of one’s mouth.
Conditions like Hair Pulling are not considered self-harm because the intention is not to harm oneself. Instead, the intention is to fix, correct or otherwise make better some aspect of physical appearance, such as removing a blemish or a hair that doesn’t seem to belong. Hair Pulling may also be a coping mechanism for overwhelming emotions. The physical damage done is just a by-product of the behaviour.
Most BFRBs begin in early puberty/adolescence and many continue into adulthood. In childhood both males and females are affected equally, but in adulthood more females seem to be affected. It’s been estimated that the condition affect 2-5% of the Canadian population, or about 2 million adults and children.
Anyone can be affected by a condition like Hair Pulling.
Getting treatment for Hair Pulling is important.
In some cases, Hair Pulling just goes away on it’s own. But it often stops for a while, and then comes back at different times throughout your life. Regardless of your age, and whether it’s a recurrent condition there are options to treat Hair Pulling.
The path to treatment is unique for everyone, and that’s where our team comes in. By working together, we’ll develop a plan to understand and control your Hair Pulling, and help you re-capture a life full of pride and confidence in your appearance.
Whether you’re struggling with Hair Pulling yourself, or if you’re trying to help a loved one deal with this condition, we are here to help you. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office and get the support you need.
The Next Step is Yours – Take It!
A Personal Letter To YOU,
It takes courage to initiate a change in your life – especially one that has been weighing you down for a long time. It is almost as if that which you want to get rid of, is a familiar friend. In reality it is your enemy, that undermines and restricts you everyday.
Isn’t it time to finally throw the enemy out and live the rest of your life free?
The expertise we have at the Alpine Counselling Clinic is unsurpassed. The thousands of clients we have helped to make significant changes in their lives over the past 30 years, bears good testament to our professionalism and commitment.
If you are hesitant in any way about taking the next step, call the number below and ask for me personally – so we can talk. I guarantee your satisfaction.
Claire Maisonneuve, director Alpine Clinic.