How Common Is Trichotillomania: Unveiling the Facts

How Common is Trichotillomania?

Unveiling the Facts: How Common Is Trichotillomania

Person with Trichotillomania sits contemplatively by a window, with hair strands on their lap.

Key Highlights

Trichotillomania is when someone can't resist the urge to pull out their own hair, leading to bald spots and feeling really upset about it. Between 0.5% and 3.4% of adults have this issue, which usually starts when they're kids and keeps going into adulthood. People with trichotillomania keep pulling their hair out, might break it off or even eat it, often targeting places like their head, eyebrows, eyelashes, or pubic area. We don't fully get why people develop trichotillomania; however things like genetics play a role alongside environmental factors and stress.

For diagnosing this condition doctors look at specific criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). There are different ways to help manage it including behavioral therapy medication , and learning how to handle emotions better.

Dealing with trichotillomania isn't easy but there's support available that can make life better for those who struggle with constantly wanting to pull out their hair

a close up look at a person with Trichotillomania


Trichotillomania is a mental health condition that's not talked about much. It makes people feel like they have to pull out their own hair, which can leave bald spots and make them feel really upset. This problem can start when someone is just a kid and might stick around into adulthood, affecting both guys and girls. Even though we don't hear about it often, between 0.5% to 3.4% of adults might be dealing with it, with rare cases resulting in physical health dangers such as digestive tract blockages.

The trouble with trichotillomania isn't just how it changes the way you look; it hits hard on your mental well-being and everyday life too, bringing along lots of emotional distress, making daily tasks harder than usual, and causing feelings of shame in those who are struggling with this issue.

In our blog post today we're going deep into what trichotillomania is all about - from how many people are living with it to why they do what they do (like pulling out their own hair), getting diagnosed correctly by doctors or therapists so as to understand better treatment options available for managing symptoms effectively while also looking at ways one could cope emotionally through such tough times thereby improving overall quality of life significantly for anyone affected directly or indirectly by this condition.

an individual wearing a mesh integration hair system for Trichotillomania

Understanding Trichotillomania: A Comprehensive Overview

Trichotillomania, or the urge to pull out your own hair, is more than just a habit; it's a mental health condition that can really affect someone's life. This disorder, also known as an impulse control disorder, makes people feel like they have to pull their hair out and is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as part of obsessive-compulsive disorders. It usually begins when someone is a kid or teenager but can last into adulthood. While both guys and girls might experience it, adult women are more often affected by this condition.

Defining Trichotillomania and Its Impact on Daily Life

Trichotillomania is when someone can't stop pulling out their own hair. It's a type of behavior that focuses on the body and it really messes with everyday life, causing social or functional impairment. For those dealing with this, doing normal things like going to work or school becomes hard because they feel this constant need to pull their hair. This action might make them feel better for a bit, but then they end up feeling pretty bad about themselves afterward. They might get bald spots or thinner hair, which makes them want to stay away from hanging out with people. Trichotillomania doesn't just affect how someone looks; it hits deep into mental health too, leading to feelings of being upset or not liking oneself much and even raising the chance of getting other health conditions related to stress and worry. Understanding the definition and impact of trichotillomania is crucial in providing support and treatment for those affected by this disorder.

a hair stylist attaching a mesh integration hair loss system to cover a patch of trichotillomania

The Prevalence of Trichotillomania Globally

Trichotillomania is more common than many people realize, with an estimated prevalence of 0.5% to 3.4% in adults. It is considered a relatively rare condition, but it is often underreported and underdiagnosed. Trichotillomania usually begins during childhood or adolescence, but it can persist into adulthood. It affects both males and females, although the gender ratio varies depending on the age group. In childhood, trichotillomania affects males and females equally, but in adulthood, it is more commonly seen in females.The following table provides an overview of the prevalence of trichotillomania in various populations:


Prevalence of Trichotillomania

General Population

0.5% - 3.4%

Children and Adolescents

0.6% - 2.5%


1.5% - 3.4%

These figures are based on available research studies and may vary depending on the population studied and the diagnostic criteria used. It is important to note that trichotillomania often goes undiagnosed, so the actual prevalence may be higher than reported.

A Real Life Email from a Woman In England

Does the below email resonate with you? This is from a mother from England feeling desperate about her hair-pulling anxiety. I assured her she is not alone, and Habit Reversal Therapy is a common practice too. We have had many clients that stopped pulling by wearing a hair barrier. Her name has been redacted for privacy reasons.

a person with Trichotillomania's email to Noelle Salon

The Symptoms of Trichotillomania: More Than Just Hair Pulling

Hair pulling isn't the only thing people with trichotillomania do. They might also break off hair or even eat it, which is called trichophagy. The need to pull out hair usually comes with feeling tense or anxious, and pulling hair seems to make these feelings go away for a bit. People often pull hair from their head, eyebrows, eyelashes, beards, and pubic area. Doing this over and over can cause bald patches, thinning of the hair on various parts of the body including pubic areas due to repetitive behavior leading to skin problems and weight loss too.

Recognizing the Physical Signs of Hair Pulling

Trichotillomania can cause noticeable physical signs, especially in the spots where hair is pulled out. Often, this leads to bald patches which are easy to spot and might make someone feel really self-conscious. This feeling could even keep them away from hanging out with others because they're worried about what people will think. Sometimes, before pulling their hair out, folks might feel an itch or a tingle right there, leading them to wear false eyelashes or use makeup to cover up the physical effects of trichotillomania.

With that said, it's not just the scalp that gets affected by trichotillomania; other parts of the body can be involved too. For some people, this means pulling hair from their eyebrows, eyelashes, beard area or pubic region. The result? Eyebrows may look uneven or barely there; eyelashes might go missing; and you could see weird patterns where beard or pubic hair grows.

On top of all these issues on the outside,hair pulling has another serious side effect when hairs end up being swallowed: They can gather inside your digestive tract causing big problems like blockages which then need medical help to fix.


The Emotional and Psychological Effects

Trichotillomania is more than just pulling out hair; it deeply affects how people feel inside. When someone can't stop pulling their hair, leading to bald spots, they often feel really embarrassed and bad about themselves. This condition makes many folks deal with tough emotions like sadness, worry, and even depression because of the way they look or what others might think. However, after pulling their hair out, they may also experience a sense of relief, which can temporarily alleviate these negative emotions. Understanding the emotional and psychological effects of trichotillomania is crucial in providing support and treatment for those affected by this disorder.

With trichotillomania comes a bunch of negative feelings that can make things worse. Feeling ashamed or guilty might cause someone to pull out their hair even more as a way to try feeling better for a little while. But this only ends up making them feel worse afterward and criticizes themselves more harshly. It's like being stuck in a loop that keeps spinning around, which isn't good for anyone's mental health and could lead to other health problems down the line.

For those dealing with these challenges due to trichotillomania, getting help from doctors or talking it through with friends and family is super important. Understanding what’s going on emotionally and psychologically helps big time in finding ways to cope better day by day.

Unraveling the Causes: What Leads to Trichotillomania?

Scientists haven't quite figured out why some people start pulling their hair, known as trichotillomania. They think it might be because of a mix of reasons - like the genes you get from your family, things that happen around you, and how you feel inside. If someone in your family has had trouble with pulling their hair or something similar like a compulsive disorder, there's a bigger chance you might too. When tough or stressful situations come up, it could make someone more likely to begin this habit. Feelings such as anxiety or just being really bored can play a big part too; sometimes people are looking for a way to feel different physically through these actions.

Genetic Factors and Trichotillomania

Studies have found that genes might play a part in causing trichotillomania. If someone in your family has it or other similar issues, like compulsive disorder or problems controlling impulses, you're more likely to get it too. This points to the idea that some people are just more prone to this condition because of their genetics, which is considered a major cause of trichotillomania.

Researchers have spotted a few specific genes that could be linked with trichotillomania but figuring out exactly how these genes work and what they do requires more digging. It seems like a bunch of different genes working together plus environmental factors can make someone more at risk for getting trichotillomania. By learning about the genetic side of things, scientists hope we can come up with better ways to treat and deal with this condition down the line.

Environmental Triggers and Stress-Related Causes

When people with trichotillomania are faced with stressful situations, they might start pulling their hair more. Things like doing badly in school, having trouble in relationships, or going through something really tough can make the risk of getting this condition higher or keep the habit of hair pulling going.

For some folks, when stress gets too much to handle, they find that yanking out their hair helps them feel a bit better for a while. It's like grabbing onto something solid when everything else feels shaky. But then this becomes their go-to way to deal with stress over time and keeps the cycle of trichotillomania spinning.

On top of all that stress stuff, feeling bored or needing something interesting to touch can also lead someone to pull at their hair. Figuring out what exactly makes someone want to pull their hair - whether it’s being super stressed-out or just looking for some kind of physical sensation - is key in finding ways to help them stop and get past trichotillomania.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Trichotillomania

When someone thinks they might have trichotillomania, a condition where people pull out their hair, the first step is to see a health care provider like a psychiatrist or psychologist. They use guidelines from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to figure out if that's what's going on. For this diagnosis, you'd be looking at whether someone pulls their hair often leading to hair loss, tries hard but struggles to stop pulling their hair, and feels really upset or finds it tough in day-to-day life because of it. Your health care provider will also ask questions about your hairpulling, your life, and your overall mental health to help figure out what’s going on. They will help you learn ways to manage your trichotillomania.

For treating trichotillomania, there are different ways to help based on what causes it for each person. The top treatment usually involves therapy—specifically cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and habit reversal training (HRT). Sometimes doctors also suggest medicine like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which can help too. It’s key for folks with this condition to work together with healthcare pros so they can come up with a treatment plan that may include cognitive behavioral therapy, tailored just for them.

How Healthcare Professionals Diagnose Trichotillomania

When it comes to figuring out if someone has trichotillomania, a mental health expert like a psychiatrist or psychologist steps in for an in-depth check-up. They look closely at the person's symptoms, their health background, and how they're doing mentally and socially to see if they match what's listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association.

For diagnosing this condition, the DSM-5 says there are certain things to watch for: pulling hair out on purpose which leads to losing hair; trying over and over again but struggling to stop pulling hair; feeling really upset or having trouble with friends, work, or other important parts of life because of it. The doctor might also check for other potential causes, including alopecia areata, iron deficiency, hypothyroidism, tinea capitis, traction alopecia, alopecia mucinosa, thallium poisoning, and loose anagen syndrome.

It’s crucial that people are super clear with their doctors about what they’re going through. Sharing all about your symptoms and how they affect you makes sure you get the right diagnosis. Then together you can come up with a plan that works best for tackling it.

Effective Treatment Strategies: From Medication to Therapy

When it comes to treating trichotillomania, a mix of therapy and medication usually does the trick. The top methods for tackling hair pulling are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and habit reversal training (HRT). With CBT, the focus is on getting to the bottom of negative thoughts and actions linked to this condition. On the other hand, HRT teaches people how to swap out hair pulling with different behaviors, making it one of the most effective types of therapy for trichotillomania.

Sometimes doctors might suggest medicine as part of dealing with trichotillomania's symptoms. Medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) along with other types of antidepressants can be really helpful in cutting down on hair-pulling habits and boosting overall mental health.

It's crucial for folks struggling with this issue to team up closely with their healthcare provider. Together they can come up with a treatment plan that best suits their needs, combining elements like therapy, medication, and support from professionals who specialize in mental health issues.

Living with Trichotillomania: Coping Strategies and Support

Dealing with trichotillomania isn't easy, but there's help out there to make things better. By using self-help methods like writing down when you feel the urge to pull your hair, learning how to handle stress better and addressing underlying negative emotions, and keeping yourself busy with other activities can really help. On top of that, joining support groups or online communities where people understand what you're going through can make a big difference. For extra support, talking to therapists who know a lot about trichotillomania can offer more advice and guidance on how to deal with it.

Daily Coping Techniques for Individuals

People who pull their hair out, known as trichotillomania, often find it tough to deal with how this affects their day-to-day life and hanging out with others. Here are some ways they can try to handle these feelings:

  • By figuring out what makes them want to pull their hair, like certain situations or emotions. Writing these down in a journal or using an app could really help.
  • Keeping the hands busy by doing things like knitting, drawing, or squeezing stress balls might stop the urge to pull hair. It's also good to find other healthy ways to let off steam.
  • Joining groups where people talk about living with trichotillomania can make someone feel less alone. Sharing tips and stories online or in person is pretty helpful.
  • Trying relaxation stuff such as deep breathing exercises, meditation yoga ,or just being mindful helps lower stress which might reduce the need for pulling hair.

-With support from family members friends,and coworkers who understand what trichotillomania is all about,it becomes easier.They offer encouragement and keep you on track

Using these strategies may improve how well individuals dealing with hair pulling manage daily hurdles and boost overall happiness

Preventative Measures and How to Reduce the Risk

For folks who might be more likely to get trichotillomania, it's really important to take steps early on to lower the chances of it happening. Here are a few things that can make a difference:

  • With stress being a big reason why people start pulling their hair, finding good ways to chill out is key. Things like working out, meditating, or doing relaxation exercises can keep stress under control.
  • If you're seeing signs of trichotillomania in yourself or know it runs in your family, getting help from professionals sooner rather than later is crucial. They can figure out what's going on and come up with a treatment plan while supporting you along the way.
  • Having people around who get what you're going through and cheer you on makes everything feel less lonely. This support could come from your family and friends but also groups online or in real life where people share similar experiences.
  • It helps a lot when we find healthier ways to deal with our feelings instead of resorting to hair pulling when stressed or upset—like diving into hobbies that relax us or practicing techniques that calm us down.

By taking these actions seriously and focusing on managing stress better as well as dealing with emotions healthily, reducing the chance of falling into habits like hair pulling, becomes much more doable for anyone worried about developing symptoms of trichotillomania.

Early Detection and Intervention Strategies

Catching and dealing with trichotillomania early on is super important. Here's how you can do it:

Being in the know: The first thing to do is notice if there's a lot of hair pulling, missing patches of hair, or if it's causing upset. This awareness means someone might realize they need help sooner.

  • Getting help from experts: If these signs pop up, talking to someone who knows their stuff about mental health can make a big difference. They can figure out what’s going on and come up with a plan just for that person.
  • Trying CBT: Cognitive-behavioral therapy is all about changing the bad thoughts and actions linked to pulling out hair into good ones. It helps tackle not only the habit but also any emotional issues hiding underneath.
  • Learning new habits with HRT: Habit reversal training teaches people how to spot when they're likely to pull their hair and what else they could do instead. It’s like swapping a not-so-great habit for a better one while keeping an eye on themselves more closely.
  • Sometimes meds are needed too: For some folks, doctors might suggest medicine as part of getting better—things like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which work alongside other treatments.

By catching things early and using proven methods, anyone struggling with trichotillomania has a fighting chance at feeling better overall.

Stress Management Techniques to Prevent Trichotillomania

To keep trichotillomania, which is the urge to pull out one's hair, under control and lessen its effect on everyday life, managing stress is key. Here are a few ways people can handle their stress better and cut down on hair pulling:

  • Relaxation exercises: By doing things like deep breathing, relaxing muscles bit by bit, or picturing peaceful scenes in your mind, you can lower your stress levels and feel more at peace.
  • Mindfulness meditation: This practice helps folks pay attention to what they're thinking and feeling without getting overwhelmed. It makes dealing with stressful situations easier.
  • Physical activity: Moving around through exercise like yoga, running or dancing not only busts stress but also boosts happiness. It’s a great way to let go of any built-up tension.
  • With time management, organizing tasks well means less panic about getting everything done. Breaking big jobs into smaller parts and setting achievable goals keeps the pressure off.
  • Getting help from others by talking about what’s bothering you with someone who understands – be it friends or family members - offers emotional support that's crucial for tackling stress head-on.

By weaving these techniques into daily routines mental health improves significantly reducing instances of hair pulling ensuring individuals lead happier lives.


Trichotillomania is a tough condition that people all over the world deal with, and it comes with both emotional and physical hurdles. It's really important for anyone affected to get what's going on, why it happens, and what can be done about it. Catching it early and having good ways to cope along with strong support makes a big difference in handling trichotillomania. By spreading the word, teaching others about it, and creating an environment where people feel supported, we're able to give those facing this issue more strength and hope. Remembering to look for help from professionals or groups who understand what you're going through is crucial in tackling trichotillomania while working towards feeling better overall.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Age Group Is Most Affected by Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania is a condition that can impact people no matter how old they are, but it usually starts when someone is a teenager. Even young children might experience it, though for them, it often doesn't last long and tends to go away by itself. Without treatment, however, trichotillomania can continue into someone's adult years.

Can Trichotillomania Be Completely Cured?

Right now, we don't have a cure for trichotillomania. However, with the correct treatment options like therapy and medication, people can really see their symptoms get better and feel an improvement in how they live day to day. For some folks, getting completely better is possible if they stick with their treatment plan and have continuous support.


Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.