Losing 100 to 300 hairs from your head every day is normal and no reason for concern. Washing, combing, styling, and even running your fingers through your hair cause many to fall out. But what if you lost enough hair in one day to create a bald spot…or if you lost nearly all your hair in a single day? That’s exactly what happens to people with trichotillomania. They pull their own hair out, strand by strand—some to the point of becoming bald.
Trichotillomania (or trich, for short) is classified as an impulse control disorder. It’s similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder, skin cutting, and even anorexia and bulimia. Trich affects women more than men, and it typically begins during adolescents, with some hair pullers being as young as age eight. While no one knows what triggers trich in people, some researchers suspect it may correlate with the onset of menses. Current statistics shows that up to 10 million Americans suffer from the affliction.
In addition to pulling hair from their head, people with trich can also pull their eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic hairs, beard, chest, and other body hairs. In severe cases, they may even eat the hair they pulled. In fact, some trich sufferers have had to have their stomach pumped because they had eaten so much hair that it obstructed their intestines.
For people with trich, the sensation of pulling their own hair gives them a feeling of relief. They like the stimulation of it and the way it sounds when a hair pops out of their head. And while a regular person feels a slight sense of pain when they intentionally pull out a hair, trich sufferers claim hair pulling does not hurt; rather, it feels good.
But despite the good feelings they get from pulling hair, trich sufferers often have low self-esteem because of the bald spots and how they look. As such, they go to great lengths to hide their problem, wearing wigs, wrapping scarves on their head, and pinning their hair up to hide the bald areas.
Complicating matters is the fact that many people with trich don’t even realize they are pulling their hair. They do it when they’re focused on something else, such as reading a book or watching television, or when they’re falling asleep. Read More