Trichotillomania, also known as trich, is when someone can't resist the urge to pull out their hair. They may pull out the hair on their head or in other places, such as their eyebrows or eyelashes. Trich is more common in teenagers and young adults, and tends to affect girls more often than boys.
People with trich feel an intense urge to pull their hair out and they experience growing tension until they do. After pulling their hair out, they feel a sense of relief. A person may sometimes pull their hair out in response to a stressful situation, or it may be done without really thinking about it. Most people with trich pull out hair from their scalp, but some pull out hair from other areas, such as their eyebrows; eyelashes; genital area; beard or moustache.
Bald patches left on the head tend to have an unusual shape and may affect one side more than the other. Trich may cause feelings of shame and low self-esteem. Those affected may try to keep their condition to themselves. It's not entirely clear what causes trich. It could be:
- your way of dealing with stress or anxiety
- a chemical imbalance in the brain, similar to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- changes in hormone levels during puberty
- a type of self-harm to seek relief from emotional distress
For some people, hair pulling can be a type of addiction. The more they pull their hair out, the more they want to keep doing it.