A 12-year-old boy is suing his school, claiming a teacher caused him to go bald prematurely. Xiao Yu, from the city of Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong province, said he started to pull out his hair unconsciously after reading an article by a teacher on the school’s online network that said he was dishonest.
Feeling the pressure after reading the post in April 2008, Yu started to gradually pull out his hair until he was left with extreme hair loss. A local hospital diagnosed Yu with an obsessive compulsive disorder, and his family now want the school to pay 100,000 Yuan as medical and emotional compensation, as well as publicly apologise to the boy for the criticism that they believe instigated the problem.
Trichotillomania is the name given to the hair-pulling disorder that sees an individual pull out their hair to the point of baldness. It is a neurological disorder and often genetic so sometimes there may seem to be no rhyme or reason to it. If hair pulling occurs during childhood, it’s often a temporary problem but treatment may help curb the compulsive nature of the condition.
Trichotillomania affects about 2-4% of the population and in childhood it occurs equally in both boys and girls. It is not actually the same as an obsessive compulsive disorder and so requires different types of treatment.
While there is no cure for the hair pulling disorder, some people find a range of treatments helpful. Cognitive-behavioural therapy or medication may help some reduce the urge to pull out their hair. Others may find alternative therapies and support groups help improve their confidence and self-image and diminish the urge to pull. And then some may find a combination of all these treatments beneficial. It is important, however, to consult a doctor and find out which method or methods may be suitable, because sometimes trichotillomania is accompanied by other problems, such as depression or anxiety, which also need to be addressed.
As for the hair loss of trichotillomania sufferers, it usually grows back on its own once the pulling has stopped. There are instances where prolonged hair pulling can damage and scar the hair follicle beyond repair, but generally with the help of hair growth treatments the hair will grow back in its entirety.
For more information, contact The Belgravia Centre on 020 7730 6666, or send an email. If you’d like a quick and easy analysis from a remote location, simply fill in the online diagnostic form and a hair loss specialist will be in contact with you shortly.
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