Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that involves irresistible urges that can co-exist with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It also has strong similarities with Compulsive Skin Picking. It usually develops at an early age from adolescence to early twenties and often stays with the sufferer throughout their life until they get treatment. The condition is more common in girls than boys.
Through my youth coaching in school I have been presented with various forms of Trichotillomania ranging from recurrent compulsive pulling of:
- Hair from the root of the scalp causing baldness
- Hair from the pubic region
- Perirectal area
Other issues that are closely related are nail biting, skin picking and hair sucking/chewing.
Individuals with Trichotillomania often try to cover up the hair loss and try to prevent others from seeing what they are doing by using camouflage techniques. This can include using hats, scarves, false eyelashes and even permanent eyebrow tattoos.
Doctors don’t know for certain what causes trichotillomania. Some think it could be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder since OCD and trichotillomania both involve repetitive behaviours. Some sufferers also have problems like depression and anxiety. Compulsive behaviours like trichotillomania involve brain chemistry and may be genetic.
Sufferers can be so embarrassed, ashamed or depressed with their hair loss that they avoid social situations in order to prevent other people from seeing it. In my experience, Trichotillomania tends to affect confidence and self esteem and stops my students from living a normal life.
Using a combination or life coaching and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, I enable my students to build their confidence and self-esteem, identify triggers, symptoms and patterns of behaviour, then form a strategy to break the cycle and do something different.
If you know of a young person with Trichotillomania that needs assistance then please consider contacting me.