Which Hairs Are Pulled
Trichotillomania can involve hair on any part of the body – head, face, genitals, and so on. Most individuals with Trichotillomania focus on one particular type of hair and favor that above the others. Individual characteristics of the target hairs, such as color, texture, and size can also be important. People sometimes have characteristic responses to their hair pulling – rubbing the hairs against their skin or lips, disposing of the hair in a particular way, even swallowing the hair.
How To Manage Hair Pulling In Babies
Generally speaking, occasional and light hair twirling by your baby isn’t something to be too concerned about. If your baby becomes so attached to twirling their hair that it prevents them from holding onto other things, or they start to actually pull their hair out of the scalp and develop bald spots, then it’s time to intervene.
When you notice your baby pulling their hair, you can try:
- Offering something else for them to hold on to, like a soothing blanket or favorite toy
- Giving them a stuffed animal with long hair or fur to tug and twirl
- Playing a hand-eye coordination game like patty cake or the itsy-bitsy spider
- Comforting your baby with a gentle cuddle
- Gently massaging the spot on their head where they want to pull from and nudging their hands and arms down to rest
If you notice your baby is pulling their hair, stay calm when you correct the behavior. Remember that some light hair pulling is normal in young kids and not something to worry about. But if your baby starts to develop bald spots, or the habit becomes more frequent, continue to try and distract or redirect your baby’s attention to something else whenever you notice them going for their hair.
Tips On How To Stop Pulling Your Hair When Youre Stressed Out
Everyone deals with stress in different ways. Some people get angry, some people feel reserved and quiet, others resort to physical actions like pulling their hair or grinding their teeth. The problem is, these physical actions can lead to further distress if you damage your teeth or pull too much hair out.
There is no shame in feeling stressed or upset and there is no reason to hide away from these sorts of issues. Failing to seek help or cure your habits can lead to further stress, compounding the issue and making you feel worse. If youre stuck with the habit of hair-pulling when stressed, read on to find four expert tips on how to stop pulling your hair when youre stressed out.
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How Is Trichotillomania Treated
Trichotillomania is usually treated with a form of cognitive behavioral therapy called habit reversal therapy. This treatment helps children understand the emotions and situations that give them the urge to pull. They learn skills and tools to replace the pulling or stop when theyre about to start.
Sometimes, something as simple as pulling back their hair or wearing loud, dangling bracelets can make kids more aware and help them stop. Some doctors suggest tricks that make hair pulling more difficult, like wearing band-aids around their fingers. Kids who play with their hair after pulling it can also try carrying around other small objects to play with instead, like paperclips or erasers.
Medication is not the main treatment for trichotillomania, but some children might benefit from taking antidepressant medication while they are learning new skills in therapy.
Q: What Are Some Strategies To Successfully Overcome Hair Pulling
A: Some people can completely stop hair pulling behavior. For others, trichotillomania is a lifelong disorder that ebbs and flows with lifes events and stressors. Well-meaning friends and family members should avoid telling their loved ones to stop pulling trichotillomania is a disorder that requires professional help.
A person who pulls can learn to control the urge through a combination of treatments, such as:
- Behavioral training: A therapist experienced in treating trichotillomania can help increase trigger awareness and decrease the urge to pull. Therapists may use different approaches, including habit-reversal training or hypnotherapy. Behavioral therapy also helps lessen the negative emotions someone feels and improves self-esteem.
- Medication: People who experience chronic hair pulling may benefit from medications to help quell the urge to pull or to address related conditions like depression or anxiety.
- Self-care:Prioritizing self-care, including regular meals, exercise and sleep, are essential for the road to recovery. Meditation, yoga and journaling are relaxation techniques that can reduce anxiety by creating a sense of calm, increase confidence and resiliency, and improve self-awareness to better recognize triggers and urges.
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Trichotillomania Causes And Risk Factors
The exact cause of trichotillomania isn’t known. It may be related to changes in brain pathways that link areas involved in how you manage your emotions, movement, make habits, and control your impulses.
Some things may boost your risk of trichotillomania, including:
- Age. Trichotillomania usually starts in the early teens, between ages 10-13. It can last throughout life, though symptoms may come and go.
- Genes. In some families, the tendency to trichotillomania may be passed on. Itâs more likely if another family member has it.
- Other mental health disorders. If you live with trichotillomania, you may have other mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder .
- Stress. Extreme stress may trigger trichotillomania in some people. Stress can be triggered by situations including family conflict, abuse, or the death of a friend or family member.
Q: How Can People Avoid Drawing Attention To Their Bald Spots
A: To hide the condition, many people use hair extensions called crown toppers. They may also use false eyelashes or eyebrow pencils to disguise areas of hair loss. Hats and headscarves are typical as well.
But while you may want to hide the effects, dont hide the disorder. Be open and honest. Confide in a friend or loved one so you can start on the path to recovery. And you can find inspiration from those who have publicized their struggles with hair pulling, like Megan Fox and JessiKate Riley .
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I’m Aware Of My Triggers
Megan Thomas started pulling out her hair when she was 12 years old. “I went from being an efficient kid who enjoyed work to being so distracted by pulling that everything would take three times as long. That slowness and difficulty generated anxiety and dread that made doing tasks harder,” she shares. “Things are much better now, but I still avoid difficult tasks, and my ability to concentrate has never quite recovered.”
Triggers are different for everyone, whether it’s school stress, abuse, relationship problems, boredom, or the pandemic, and figuring out what they are is invaluable. “It took me a long time to realize that stress is the primary trigger of my trich,” Thomas says. “But on the day-to-day, when I feel the urge to pull, it’s usually a helpful sign that I need to eat/drink/meditate, etc.”
How Do People Overcome It
People with trichotillomania usually need help from medical and behavioral specialists in order to stop. With the right help, most people overcome their hair-pulling urges. When someone is able to stop pulling, hair usually grows back.
Overcoming hair-pulling urges may involve a type of behavioral therapy called habit substitution, taking medicine, or a combination of therapy and medicine.
In therapy, people with trichotillomania learn about urges. They learn how urges fade on their own when people don’t give in to them, and how urges get stronger and happen more often when people do give in. They learn to identify situations, places, or times they usually have an urge to pull.
Therapists teach people with trichotillomania how to plan a replacement habit they can do when they feel a strong urge to pull hair. Replacement habits might be things like squeezing a stress ball, handling textured objects, or drawing. The therapist guides the person on how to use the new habit to resist the urge to pull hair. With practice, a person gets better at resisting the urge to pull. The urge becomes weaker and easier to resist.
Because the urges and habits that lead to hair pulling are so strong, resisting can be difficult at first. People may feel more tension or anxiety as they begin to resist urges to pull. A therapist can coach a person through these difficult parts and offer support and practical advice about how to reverse the powerful urges.
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Things You Can Try Yourself
Here are some tips from people with trich that may help when you feel the urge to pull your hair:
- squeeze a stress ball or something similar
- form a ball with your fist and tighten the muscles in that arm
- use a fidget toy
- wear a bandana or a tight fitting hat, such as a beanie
- come up with a saying that you repeat out loud until the urge to pull passes
- take a soothing bath to ease any stress or anxiety
- practise deep breathing until the urge to pull goes away
Tips To Stop Pulling Your Hair Out
Allie is a sixteen year old girl living in Chicago, who makes videos about beauty, fitness, and mental health. Allie also struggles with trichotillomania. In this video she shares some of her tips to stop pulling your hair out. Although there is currently no cure for trichotillomania and no guaranteed way to stop pulling your hair, below is a list of tips and strategies that may be helpful in reducing and/ or stopping your hair pulling. Not all of them may work for you. The idea behind this is to try as many as you possibly can in order to create your very own stop picking tool kit that is unique to you.
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Why Do We Like To Pull Out Hairs
At surface level, its a conscious guilty pleasure.
On a deeper level, its an unconscious habit to keep your hands busy, like biting your fingernails.
At its worst, its an impulse control disorder. If its causing damage or distress, you could be experiencing Trichotillomania , also known literally as hair-pulling disorder. Its a thing.
Until recently, TTM was thought to be very rare because people suffering it would rarely seek help. Those who did would often see a dermatologist.
TTM sufferers often dont realise or are unwilling to admit that theyre hair pulling.
Its usually done alone, while watching TV, sitting at work, driving or grooming in the bathroom, in what researchers have described as a trance-like state. It might be a reaction to stress, but sufferers report being calm and relaxed when pulling hair too.
Its possible to pull out your hair in a conscious and focused way, and here its important to take note of any specific rituals.
All of the habits surrounding your beard pulling are important clues in developing strategies to help you reverse it.
Do you search out crinkly or textured hairs to pull? Do you pluck until the surrounding hair feels just right, or do it in response to a sensation in that area?
TTM sufferers often have mouth rituals like chewing or licking the pulled hair, biting off the hair bulb, and eating said hair , which can cause all kinds of probloms.
What Causes Trichotillomania And What Triggers It
Scientists are yet to find out what exactly causes trichotillomania. Research has helped to identify certain factors that may play a role:
- Genes: Genetic transmission can be one of the causes. Someone who has a family member with trichotillomania is more likely to get the condition.
- Structural changes in the brain: There may be problems in those areas of the brain that are involved in the formation of habits, behavior, and the control of impulses.
- Functional problems in the brain: Some scientists believe that trichotillomania is a subset of OCD, which is caused by chemical changes in the brain.
- Childhood trauma: Early research suggests emotionally painful events during childhood to be one of the causes. However, there is a lack of evidence.
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Ways To Stop Pulling Your Hair
This article includes helpful tips shared by a member of the BFRB Community.
I started to come up with a list of ideas on how to stop pulling your hair for an article I’m writing. I am going to list them below as well. Many of these have helped me achieve my 9 weeks pull free. Let me know if you have any questions.
I started to come up with a list of ideas on how to stop pulling your hair. Many of these have helped me.Much love,
* = I have tried these methods.** = These tips have helped me the most.
- Wear a bandana to bed. *
- Make a sticker chart. Every day that you go without pulling add a sticker. Hang this sticker chart in a room where you pull the most.**
- Reward yourself after several days of being pull free.*
- Be patient with yourself.*
- Talk to another person with Trichotillomania.*
- Wet down your hair. This will make it really hard to pull out your hair since it will be slippery.*
- Learn what your body needs instead of pulling. Is your body tired, hungry, sleepy, and excited, etc? Then tell yourself out loud what you need and go do it.**
- Stimulate your senses. Many of us that pull like the sensation that comes with it. Instead of pulling do other things to stimulate these such as washing your hair, brushing your lips on dental floss or string , and massaging your scalp.*
- Avoid caffeine right before bed. Often bedtime is a time when a lot of people pull. By using caffeine you keep yourself up longer and it heightens anxiety.*
Buy a fidget toy.*
We Explore The Relationship Between Trichotillomania And Anxiety
Trichotillomania is a disorder that affects 1-2% of the population, a majority of them female. The main feature is the recurrent compulsion to pull out ones hair. Hair is pulled from any area of the body, the most common being scalp, eyebrows, and eyelids. Episodes of hair pulling vary over time, but the key features of the diagnosis include hair loss, recurring attempts to stop, and the behavior causes significant distress.
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What Not To Do
1. Dont ask, Why dont you just stop?
Chances are, the person already asks themselves this question every day. This diagnosis can carry a lot of shame, and this statement assumes it is easy to stop pulling. If someone could stop, they would.
2. Dont suggest, Stop covering your bald spots so you can actually see the damage.
Covering up is controversial. While some clients find it freeing to take off their makeup and wigs, others find it shameful and embarrassing, and they can regress to feeling hopeless, helpless, and far from their goals of stopping the behavior. Until you know how someone will react to this strategy, skip this advice.
3. Dont say, You need to learn to relax, and maybe the pulling will stop automatically.
Usually, this isnt true. My clients with trich have hairpulling on their mind constantly and have uncontrollable urges to pull. These urges typically require much more than just relaxation to reverse themselves, so dont assume its that easy.
4. Dont carefully observe the person and signal or say something when they are pulling…
unless the person asks you to do this. Many people feel watched and judged with this technique, so ask them if verbal notice would help before becoming the pulling police.
Trichotillomania Treatment And Home Remedies
Many types of therapy can support people with trichotillomania and even help them stop hair pulling completely.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy. Youâll be able to practice accepting the hair-pulling urges without actually hair pulling.
- Habit reversal. This is often the main treatment for trichotillomania. Itâll help you practice other, less harmful habits instead of hair pulling, like clenching your fists when you have the urge to pull your hair.
- Cognitive therapy. This helps people explore and change the beliefs that lead to hair pulling.
There are no FDA-approved medicines for trichotillomania, but these drugs may control symptoms in some people:
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If You Found This Helpful You Might Find This More Helpful
I have a great beard. Its got reds and blondes and touches of black in it.
I love it more than anything, yet I play with it so much I am starting to see the beginnings of thin patches.
Truly terrifying stuff.
What I personally do to stop myself and I dont know why this works is using beard oil.
If I had to guess, Id say its because I subconsciously dont want to get my hands greasy. So ipso facto, I dont touch it as much.
It might work for you this is the brand I use:
Its affordable, smells good, and it works for me. For ~10 bucks, its a cheap way to see if itll help with your twiddle fingers.
Keep your beard safe!
Hair Pulling And Anxiety
There are healthy ways to discharge stress energy, and then there are not-so-healthy ways. Many people who struggle with trichotillomania, or compulsive hair pulling, associate hair pulling with anxiety. One study found that out of 894 people struggling with trichotillomania, 84% of them said anxiety was associated with it. Others report that hair pulling gets worse when anxiety increases.
One explanation for hair pulling worsening with increased anxiety is that pulling hair out relieves stress and tension. When one is anxious, tension in the body increases. The slight pain associated with pulling out hair and the immediate feeling of release may help to discharge stress energy. The focused activity of pulling out hair also serves as a mindful activity, where one focuses on the activity at hand allowing for anxiety to dissipate.
Another explanation is that increased anxiety interferes with ones ability to control impulses. Without anxiety acting as cognitive interference, our brains can be trained to control impulsive behavior through such therapies as habit reversal training. As anxiety increases, think of it as the white noise in your brain becoming louder. The louder it is, the less energy the brain has to make decisions. Therefore, the impulse control mechanism becomes drowned out by the white noise.
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