What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania is a condition that leads to an overwhelming urge to pull out hair. There are several different forms of Trichotillomania:

  • Focused hair pulling, when someone pulls out hair intentionally. This type of Trichotillomania can include specific rituals, including pulling certain types of hair.
  • Automatic hair pulling, when people pull hair without being fully conscious of what they are doing.
  • Mixed hair pulling, which combines aspects of both types.

Trichotillomania is more common in teenagers and young adults and tends to affect girls more often than boys.

Symptoms of Trichotillomania

Pulling out scalp hair often leaves patchy bald spots, often more on one side of the head than the other, which can cause significant distress and interfere with social life or work. For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and usually manageable.

Most people with Trichotillomania pull out hair from their scalp, but some pull out hair from other areas, including:

  • eyebrows
  • eyelashes
  • pubic hair
  • beard or moustache

Causes of Trichotillomania

The cause of Trichotillomania is unclear, however there are several known risk factors:

  • Trichotillomania may have a genetic component and can occur in those who have a close relative with the condition
  • Trichotillomania most commonly develops just before or during the early teens, most often between the ages of 10 and 13 years and developing into a chronic problem.
  • People who have Trichotillomania sometimes also have other conditions, such as depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Stressful situations or events may cause Trichotillomania in some people.

Can Trichotillomania be harmful?

Constant hair pulling can cause scarring and other damage, including infections, to the skin on the scalp or the area where hair is pulled out. In some cases, this can permanently affect hair growth.

Occasionally people with Trichotillomania eat their hair. This can lead to hairballs, which can lead to serious illness, so it is important to visit a Doctor if you are eating your hair.

Treatments for Trichotillomania

The most common treatments for Trichotillomania are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Further research is needed but behavioural therapy shows better outcomes than medication in most cases.

Additional Information

Anxiety UK have some useful information about Trichotillomania


Trichotillomania Support has an excellent online forum where you can get advice and support from other people affected by the condition. They also have lots of information on treatments and self-help advice.