Trichotillomania (TTM), also known as hair pulling disorder, is an impulse control disorder characterized by a long term urge that results in the pulling out of one’s hair.
This occurs to such a degree that hair loss can be seen.
Efforts to stop pulling hair typically fail.
Hair removal may occur anywhere; however, the head and around the eyes are most common.
The hair pulling is to such a degree that it results in distress.
People who have trichotillomania have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair, usually from their scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows.
Trichotillomania is a type of impulse control disorder. People with these disorders know that they can do damage by acting on the impulses, but they cannot stop themselves. They may pull out their hair when they’re stressed as a way to try to soothe themselves.
Symptoms of Trichotillomania
Besides repeated hair pulling, other symptoms may include:
- Feeling tense before pulling hair or when trying to resist the urge to pull hair
- Feeling relieved, satisfied, or pleased after acting on the impulse to pull hair
- Distress or problems in work or social life due to hair pulling
- Bare patches where the hair has been pulled out
- Behaviors such as inspecting the hair root, twirling the hair, pulling the hair between the teeth, chewing on hair, or eating hair
Many people who have trichotillomania try to deny they have a problem and may attempt to hide their hair loss by wearing hats, scarves, and false eyelashes and eyebrows.
What Causes Trichotillomania?
The exact cause of trichotillomania isn’t known. It may be related to abnormalities in brain pathways that link areas involved in emotional regulation, movement, habit formation, and impulse control.