By Patti Wood
What is trichotillomania?
Trichotillomania (TTM or “trich”) is a disorder that causes people to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or any other parts of the body, resulting in noticeable bald patches. Hair pulling varies greatly in its severity. For some people, at some times, trichotillomania is mild and can be quelled with a bit of extra awareness and concentration. For others, the urge may be so strong that it makes thinking of anything else nearly impossible.
Trichotillomania is currently defined as an impulse control disorder, but there are still questions about how it should be classified. It may seem to resemble a habit, an addiction, a tic disorder or an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Most recently, it is being conceptualized as part of a family of “body-focused repetitive behaviors” (BFRBs) along with skin picking and nail biting.
What does trichotillomania look like?
Most people with TTM pull enough hair that they have bald spots on their heads, which they go to great lengths to cover with hairstyles, scarves, wigs, or makeup. Others may be missing eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic or other body hair, which they may camouflage with makeup, clothing, or other means.
How did trichotillomania get its name?
Pronounced “trick-o-til-o-may-nee-ah,” trichotillomania was named in 1889 by a French dermatologist, Francois Hallopeau, from the Greek words for “hair” (tricho) and “to pull” (tillo). “Mania” is defined as “excessive and intense interest in or enthusiasm for something.” It is now increasingly referred to as hair pulling.
Who gets trichotillomania?
People of all ages, genders, ethnicities, nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds have trichotillomania. In early childhood, trichotillomania seems to occur as frequently in boys as girls. By adulthood, 80-90% of reported cases are women. It is estimated to affect one to three percent of the population, or three to nine million Americans.
What causes trichotillomania?
The cause of trichotillomania is not known. Research into the causes of and treatments for trichotillomania is still in the early stages. There is preliminary evidence that indicates trichotillomania is a neurobiological disorder and that genetics may play a role in its development.
Are people with trichotillomania trying to injure themselves?
Generally, people with trichotillomania are not trying to hurt themselves, just as people who bite their nails are not trying to injure themselves. Most people with trichotillomania are upset by the resulting damage to their appearance and make great efforts to control or stop the behavior.
If you or someone you know suffers from trichotillomania, make an appointment for a free consultation today with Patti.
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Patti Wood WTS, Owner of Off 5th Avenue Salon, is a professionally trained hair stylist and a certified Trichologist specializing in Hair Replacement therapy and solutions. Patti has helped many clients solve hair loss problems ranging from cancer treatments, male or female pattern baldness, hair thinning, and Alopecia Areata. She works closely with Dermatologists and Physicians in treatment plans.