By | June 10, 2022

Everyone knows that he pulls his hair or wraps it around his finger. Women also like to pluck out annoying facial hair. This is usually not uncommon, but there are also people who compulsively pull their hair daily, sometimes for hours, until the head is bald or even bleeding. This is known as trichotillomania.

What is trichotillomania?

The word trichotillomania is made up of the following three Greek terms: “tricho” means hair, “tillo” plucking and “mania” stands for impulsive or even addictive behavior. Trichotillomania, the mental illness, is therefore a compulsive plucking of hair, for example the hair on the head, but also the eyelashes or eyebrows. But all other hair such as the beard or pubic hair can also be preferred places.¬†For histoplasmosis definition and meaning, please visit

This disease, which usually occurs in childhood, is one of the complex impulse control disorders and can last for a few months or even years. The disorder is characterized by the sufferer being unable to resist the urge, impulse, or temptation to perform the action.


The exact causes of trichotillomania have not yet been clearly clarified. The triggers must therefore be determined individually for those affected. It is believed that an inherited disposition coupled with certain triggers in the brain leads to the imbalance of neurotransmitters that trigger the compulsive action.

Other reasons should include traumatic events such as the death of a close relative, family problems, divorce, abuse, stress, distressing childhood events, or events that lowered self-esteem. According to studies, more than two thirds of those affected have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives.

In some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder was diagnosed. Recognizing your own triggers can be helpful in finding opportunities and ways to deal with these difficult situations.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Trichotillomania is primarily noticeable through the compulsive pulling out of the hair on the head. In some cases, hair is also pulled from other parts of the body. As a result, bald spots form in the affected areas of the body. Those affected usually feel no pain or this is simply ignored.

The actions are often not experienced consciously, although the urge to pull out the hair is usually felt strongly. Trichotillomania can occur at any age. However, it often sets in during puberty.

Diagnosis & course of disease

The condition is easily recognized by the bald patches that result after plucking. The mental illness usually only lasts a few months. In some cases, however, it also lasts for several years. This disorder is almost always accompanied by inner restlessness, pressure or a feeling of tension. The process of pulling out the hair usually leads to the desired relaxation in the short term.

However, the often ensuing feelings of anger, shame and fear reinforce the inner tension again, which again leads to the compulsive impulse. A vicious circle develops that is difficult to break. The experience of not being able to control oneself leads to frustration and feelings of inferiority. In some cases, this leads to comorbidities, such as anxiety disorders or depression. Many sufferers do not want the compulsions to be discovered. This leads to social isolation in some cases.


Since trichotillomania is a purely psychological disorder, the disease leads to a number of different psychological and physical complaints. In most cases, those affected pull their own hair out. Hair is pulled from different parts of the body, and those affected usually do not feel any pain or other unpleasant feelings when the hair is pulled out.

Trichotillomania mainly occurs during puberty. Many of those affected are therefore bullied or teased, which can only make the symptoms worse. As a result of the hair being pulled out, patients often no longer feel beautiful and therefore suffer from inferiority complexes or reduced self-confidence.

It can also lead to suicidal thoughts. Patients with trichotillomania also suffer from anxiety disorders or severe depression. Social contacts can usually not be maintained with the disease. The treatment of trichotillomania is always carried out by a psychologist.

In serious cases, treatment can also take place in a closed clinic. There are no particular complications. However, the treatment can take a long time and does not have to be successful in every case. However, the life expectancy of those affected is not affected by trichotillomania.

When should you go to the doctor?

In the case of trichotillomania, the affected person is always dependent on a visit to a doctor. This disease cannot heal on its own and will continue to worsen if treatment is not initiated. Therefore, in the case of trichotillomania, a doctor should be contacted as soon as the first signs and symptoms appear. Early diagnosis and subsequent treatment can limit further complications. A doctor should be consulted if the person concerned compulsively pulls their hair off their head.

These symptoms can occur especially in stressful or strenuous situations and have a negative effect on the quality of life of those affected. In most cases, those affected by trichotillomania do not even notice the tearing out themselves, so outsiders should point out the symptoms to the patients.

If you have trichotillomania, you should see a psychologist. In many cases, friends or family have to persuade the person concerned to seek treatment. The further course cannot be generally predicted. However, the life expectancy of those affected is not reduced or otherwise restricted by this disease.

Treatment & Therapy

Trichotillomania can be treated. Psychotherapeutic treatment plays an important role here, especially in the case of a severe course . Behavior therapy supports those affected in recognizing the behavior and symptoms and above all the triggers and then changing the behavior. During the therapy, the person affected should learn to gradually deal better with the disease and its consequences.

However, this takes time until the well-established patterns of action are discarded and replaced by new ones. Supplementary drug therapy can also help to suppress the compulsive impulse and counteract side effects such as depression or anxiety, which often occur as a side effect. Many patients respond positively to antidepressants. Only the use of medication is not recommended, because if these are discontinued, the urge to pull out the hair often arises again. It is therefore advisable to use behavioral therapy at the same time.

Relaxation techniques such as autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation are recommended to reduce stress. Support from reference persons is also helpful. Which measures are successful for the person concerned must always be decided individually. Medical treatment is not always required. Even in difficult cases, a favorable prognosis can be made.


As a preventive measure, it has been found helpful to make a plan to stop yourself from having the compulsive urge. This means when the urge to pull your hair out is noticed, replacing the urge with positive thoughts or taking advantage of relaxation opportunities during those moments.

It is advisable to take a few minutes for yourself in these situations in order to clear your head in this way. The stress should be reduced. However, this does not only apply in these situations, it is generally important to eliminate all stress triggers as far as possible in order to create a mental balance.


In most cases, those affected with trichotillomania only have limited follow-up measures available because it is a rare disease. If the disease has been present since birth, it can usually not be completely cured. Therefore, those affected should have a genetic test and counseling carried out if they wish to have children in order to prevent the disease from being passed on to their offspring.

It cannot heal on its own. Most patients are dependent on taking various medications and also on the use of various ointments and creams. The instructions of the doctor should always be followed, whereby regular intake and use as well as the specified dosage must be observed.

If anything is unclear or there are severe side effects, those affected by trichotillomania should consult a doctor. Contact with other patients with the disease can also be very useful in the case of trichotillomania, as this leads to an exchange of information on how everyday life can be managed more easily. This disease may result in a reduced life expectancy for those affected.

You can do that yourself

If trichotillomania is diagnosed, self-help measures should only be taken as an accompaniment. Since the treatment proves to be comparatively difficult and there are still no universally valid therapies, all measures should be coordinated. This is the only way to comprehensively resolve the problem.

In many cases, inner turmoil and restlessness trigger the hair pulling. Relaxation techniques such as autogenic training can eliminate the cause of the hair plucking impulse. In addition, the reaction of the environment plays an important role. Parents and relatives should absolutely avoid accusations. Otherwise the problem will increase. Children accumulate aggression and have no retreat. Rather, successes, i.e. failure to pluck, should be adequately acknowledged and rewarded.

Since the head is the topic of the sick child and its environment anyway, it should be given a positive image. Head massages provide pleasant stimuli. The use of hair ornaments, hats and scarves promises a creative way of dealing with the disease. Trichotillomania is an issue at hairdresser appointments in particular. Parents should inform them about the disease in advance. Sometimes there are ways to make the torn areas not visible through certain hairstyles.