Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a mental illness in which a person feels a strong urge to pull out his or her own hair. Usually, hair is pulled from the head, eyelashes, and eyebrows.

Trichotillomania most often occurs in teenage girls. However, children and adults of all ages and both sexes can be affected.

The exact cause is not known. Contributing factors may include stressful events, drug abuse, or a chemical imbalance in the brain similar to that seen in people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Symptoms may include:

  • Patches of baldness.
  • Broken pieces of hair.
  • Sparse eyebrows or eyelashes.
  • Denial of a hair-pulling problem and attempts to conceal the problem.

Treatment usually involves medication and psychotherapy.

Last Updated: June 17, 2008

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology

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