Major life changes such as attending college and starting a new job tend to create a major upset with those with Trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder. Many of us do not embrace change but imagine the anxiety of those with Trich fearing they will be found out, or they are wearing a hairpiece. This is when our clients who have Trich need more of our support! Our salon is safe haven, many rising freshmen prefer to choose a college in comfortable proximity to home and our salon.
The stress of "change," may cause some to pull their hair more often or relapse, therefore, I prepare parents by telling them what they can expect in the first year of a major life-altering such as college, or a new job after graduating. I find it disheartening that my clients are in therapy, but their therapists do not address this issue.
The good news is today's youth are mostly nonjudgemental and they are familiar with the Trich, my clients tend to find their niche of friends that often have Trichotillomania. Unlike the high school experience, the college has an expansive amount of young adults breaking the social norm.
Our salon runs a Facebook group focused on helping with all types of hair loss including Trichotillomania, people share their hair loss experience, ask for advice, shop for hairpieces, seek referrals, also express their thoughts. This is a private group filled with solutions and support, each member is vetted, a questionnaire is required prior to acceptance in the group.
There is an online community site, BFRB.org that contains endless resources from therapists to service providers for all Body-Focused-Repetitive Behaviors such as eyebrow and eyelash pulling.
What To Do?
It is fascinating how many groups exist on Facebook for college-bound youth, from LGBTQ to Trichotillomania. I encourage my clients to research these groups, oftentimes there will be members that are attending the same college.
The college experience has positively impacted 98% of our clients with Trichotillomania, especially if they immerse themselves into extra-curricular activities which leaves less time to dwell on their condition. The newfound sense of independence is empowering, I say this because I watch the evolution and its positive impact. Moreover, finding friends or friends of friends with a BFRB like "trich" creates "power in number!" Knowing that you are not the lone person with this condition allows one to feel they are not in a fringe or strange statistic.
Upon graduating college, 50% of our clients grow in their own hair and no longer use hairpieces, hair toppers to hide their hair loss. The other 50% have longer hair but often use a hairpiece for security. Some may switch to hair extensions, which are easier to maintain, to fill in sparse areas of the hair, but by the time they are ready to embark on the working world they are confident, in control, and ready for the next chapter of life.
I have been a hairstylist and salon owner for nearly 30 years, over my tenure I have often questioned "why" I continue to work in an industry that poses some unique challenges, especially during the pandemic. After soul-searching, I realized working with hair loss, for all reasons, in particular Trich, inspires and gratifies me. This work is my passion, and I never plan to stop.
Note: Unlike Alopecia Areata, fungal infections, thinning hair, and other autoimmune diseases where balding spots or female pattern baldness where you lose hair, Trichotillomania is a disorder, and the hair loss is physically removing hair follicles. Our approach considers the full spectrum of hair loss, but our approach to Trichotillomania is unique and specific with the aim to build stronger hair and encourage hair growth.