Trichotillomania (pronounced: trik-oh-till-oh-MAY-nee-uh) is a condition that gives some people strong urges to pull out their own hair. It can affect people of any age.
People with trichotillomania pull hair out at the root from places like the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or pubic area.
Some people with the condition pull large handfuls of hair, which can leave bald patches on the scalp or eyebrows. Other people pull out their hair one strand at a time. They might inspect or play with the strand after pulling it out. About half of people with trichotillomania put the hair in their mouths after pulling it.
Some people are very aware of their pulling. Others seem to do it in a very absent-minded way, without really noticing what they’re doing.
For people with trichotillomania, resisting the urge to pull out their hair feels as hard as resisting the urge to scratch a very itchy itch.
Some people say that the urge to pull starts with a feeling in their scalp or skin, like an itch or a tingle. Pulling the hair seems like the only way to get relief. People might have a brief feeling of satisfaction for a moment after pulling out their hair.
People with trichotillomania may feel embarrassed, frustrated, ashamed, or depressed about it. They may worry what others will think or say. They might feel nagged by people who don’t understand that they’re not doing this on purpose.
People with trichotillomania usually try to hide the behavior from others — even their families. This can make it difficult to get help.
Having trichotillomania can affect how people feel about themselves. Some are self-conscious about how hair pulling affects their appearance. They might feel less confident about making friends or dating. Others can feel powerless to control the urge to pull or blame themselves for not being able to stop.