Trichotillomania (TTM)


Trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by recurrent, uncontrollable urges to pull out one’s own hair from the scalp, eyebrows, or other parts of the body. Despite attempts to stop, those with trichotillomania often find it impossible to resist these urges. It falls under the category of body-focused repetitive behaviors.

People with this condition may experience noticeable hair loss in patches, leading to significant distress and potential disruptions in their social, educational, and professional lives. They may also take extensive measures to conceal the bald areas.

The severity of trichotillomania can vary; some individuals might manage their symptoms effectively, while others struggle significantly with the emotional impact of their compulsive behaviors. There are various treatment options available that may help lessen or eliminate the compulsion to pull out hair.


The following signs and symptoms of trichotillomania include:

  • Consistently pulling hair from your scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes, either subconsciously or consciously. You may also occasionally pull hair from other parts of your body.
  • Getting more tension just before or during the attempt to stop pulling out your hair.
  • A pleasant or relieving feeling following hair pulling.
  • Visible signs of hair loss, such as shorter hair or bald spots on your scalp or other body parts. This could include thin or missing eyebrows or eyelashes.
  • Steps for pulling hair such as pulling out particular hair types, using the same procedures each time, or using particular patterns while removing hair.
  • Playing, eating, chewing, or biting hair that was pulled out.
  • Consistently attempting, but failing, to reduce back on the amount of time of hair pulling.
  • Having severe distress or problems relating to pulling out your hair at work, school, or in social situations.

Trichotillomania often coexists with other habits like skin picking, nail biting, or lip chewing. Occasionally, individuals with underlying medical conditions may also exhibit hair removal behaviors involving dolls, pets, or household items. Hair pulling is usually done in private, with intervals ranging from seconds to several hours between episodes. Many affected individuals may strive to keep their condition confidential.

If you find it difficult to cease hair pulling and experience shame or embarrassment due to its effects on your appearance, it’s crucial to seek assistance from a healthcare provider. Trichotillomania is not just a simple habit; it’s a mental health disorder. Without proper treatment, the prospect of recovery is minimal.


It’s unknown what causes trichotillomania. However, trichotillomania, like many complex disorders, most likely comes from a mix of acquired and genetic factors such as:

  • Genetics: There are some DNA mutations that might induce TTM. More investigation is required to confirm.
  • Modifications in brain chemistry or structure: Individuals diagnosed with TTM frequently exhibit alterations to specific areas of the brain or changes in brain chemistry.
  • Coping mechanism: Many TTM patients say that their condition began following a period of intense stress in their lives. Others claim that they started pulling their hair out of boredom and that it eventually turned into a habit.

Risk factors

Trichotillomania is more likely to occur when certain factors occur:

  • Age: It commonly appears between the ages of 10 and 13 years old, either before or during the early adolescent years. Although hair pulling is a common occurrence in babies, it usually occurs in moderate cases and resolves on its own without medical intervention.
  • Environment: The likelihood of hair pulling is frequently increased by boredom, isolation, and solitude.
  • Family history: Trichotillomania could be due in part to genetics. If you have a close family who suffers from trichotillomania, your chances of developing the disorder may increase.
  • Health conditions: Some people may experience discomfort from skin or hair problems. This might draw their attention to their scalp or cause them to pull hair.
  • Other mental health conditions: Trichotillomania may coexist with other disorders as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Stress: For certain individuals, extremely stressful situations or events might lead to trichotillomania.

While men are treated for trichotillomania significantly less frequently than women, this difference may be due to women’s tendency to seek medical attention. Both boys and girls have trichotillomania equally often in early life.