Trichotillomania, also known as hair pulling disorder, is characterized by the repetitive pulling out of one’s hair to the point of damage to the body. Trichotillomania is one of a group of behaviors known as body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). Hair pulling can either be goal-directed in nature, or executed in an automatic way, where the person is less aware of their behavior. Many individuals experience notable sensations before and after the act. Hair-pulling could be a result of a variety of emotions ranging from boredom, anxiety, frustration and depression all the way to thoughts, beliefs, and values that can drive the hair pulling. Shame and embarrassment are common consequences of this disorder, which can lead the individual to endure isolation and emotional distress that can cause mood and anxiety disorders. Physical effects such as tissue damage and infections are also a common consequence as well.
Research indicates that about 1 or 2 in 50 people experience trichotillomania in their lifetime. It usually begins in late childhood/ early puberty. In childhood, it occurs about equally in boys and girls but by adulthood, most reported cases are women. Hair pulling varies greatly in its severity, location on the body, and response to treatment. Without treatment, trichotillomania tends to be a chronic condition; that may come and go throughout a lifetime.