Hair Pulling (Trichotillomania) & Skin Picking

Chronic hair-pulling can be effectively treated without the need for medication.

Trichotillomania - Bald patches on scalp
Trichotillomania – Bald patches on scalp

Does someone you know has a habit of pulling out his/her hair?

Do you find inexplicable clumps of hair in your loved one’s living space?

Are you seeing bald patches on your child’s scalp, missing eyebrows or eyelashes?

If you observed or are personally experiencing any of the above, you or your loved one may be suffering from Hair Pulling Disorder or Trichotillomania (TTM).

Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by repetitive pulling out of one’s hair from any part of the body (scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, even pubic hair) for non-cosmetic reasons.

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According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association, the diagnostic criteria for Trichotillomania are:

  • Recurrent pulling out one’s hair resulting in noticeable hair loss.
  • An increasing sense of tension immediately prior to pulling out the hair or when attempting to resist the behavior.
  • Pleasure, gratification, or relief when pulling out the hair.
  • The disturbance is not better accounted for by another mental disorder and is not due to a general medical condition (e.g. a dermatological condition).
  • The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Trichotillomania belongs to a unique family of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) which also include skin-picking, nail biting, and cheek biting.

Cause of Trichotillomania

Missing eyelashes
Missing Eyelashes due to Compulsive Pulling

The cause of Trichotillomania is currently unknown although, like many other complex disorders, it likely has a multitude of underlying causes including genetic, environmental, traumatic experiences in the past and/or unconscious conflicts.

It may also be a maladaptive behaviour learned independently to serve a purpose. For instance, hair-pulling may have started as a stress response which subsequently developed into a habit.

How Can Counselling and Psychotherapy Help

Just as weeds grow under the right condition, acts of hair-pulling, skin-picking, nail or cheek-biting are triggered under the ‘right’ circumstances. That could be when you engage in sedentary activities like watching TV or studying. Or it could be during times of stress or emotional turmoil.

During therapy, we will identify “triggers” which prompt the pulling or related behaviours. Then, together, we’ll devise strategies to disrupt these behavioural patterns and develop healthier, more desirable and appropriate responses.

Through the use of time-tested psychological methods, you or your loved one can overcome the hair-pulling and/or skin-picking habit faster and more effectively.

Support for Family Members

Support for family members
Support for family members

It’s heart-wrenching to see your loved one suffers; you want to be supportive but you don’t know how. We understand your concerns, and that’s why we take care of your needs too. We teach you how to best manage your mental and emotional stress and provide you with practical and beneficial methods for dealing with your loved one’s condition.

The journey to recovery can begin now.

Contact us today.