Last week marked the third International No Pulling Week to highlight the plight of Trichotillomania sufferers.
Trichotillomania is a condition where sufferers feel an “overwhelming” urge to pull their hair.
According to NHS Choices website:
You will experience an intense urge to pull your hair out and growing tension until you do. After pulling out your hair, you will feel a sense of relief.
The vast majority of sufferers are female and the condition often begins at or around puberty (ie 11-13 years of age) as body and self awareness become heightened and combine with the first stresses of life such as the transition from primary to secondary school, having to make new friends and being expected to start doing well academically.
Once it begins any major stress or change (such as dealing with parental expectations, a parental divorce or starting college) is likely to exacerbate the condition. As with eating disorders an increasingly image-conscious society where young girls feel pressured to look like budding celebrities in endless selfies is said to be contributing to the problem, though there is, as yet, no definitive medical cause for this mental health condition with its unfortunate visible effects.
Sufferers often develop bald patches and in some cases extreme hair loss which results in sufferers desperately trying to hide their condition with alice bands, scarves or hats. Some chew on the roots or hair bulbs of the pulled out hair before discarding. Many live extremely limited lives, refusing to go out wherever possible and often ruling themselves out of relationships altogether.
Ironically the more stressed sufferers become by their condition, the more likely they are to pull their hair to alleviate their feelings of stress, if only momentarily, before feeling even worse. In particularly visible cases they may also be bullied at school or college, which contributes to the vicious circle of stress, pulling, relief, and then, even worse stress. Sufferers are prone to feelings of shame and self-loathing, which in turn fuel the behavioural cycle by providing justification for it.
There are many blogs and youtube video diaries by Tricotillomania sufferers online sharing their stories and tips. These are well worth exploring if you are a sufferer. Many advocate displacement therapy to replace a pulling desire with a harmless desire or the use of CBT therapy to re-programme the area of the brain addicted to this self-destructive behaviour. There are also whole online communities of trich sufferers to connect with and provide mutual support so there is no need to feel alone.
However it is important not to expect miracles in terms of hair regrowth once pulling can be stopped as years of repeated hair pulling, particularly including follicle bulbs, is likely to result in areas which cannot physically regrow, although hair transplantation may help in some cases where there is a sufficient harvest site elsewhere on the scalp.
Luckily here at Aspiration Hair we can offer Tricotillomania sufferers your lives back with replacement hair so good, your condition will seem like a nightmare you once had, rather than a daily reality.