NHS Needs to do More to Help Trichotillomania Sufferers


Trichotillomania is psychological condition which it is estimated affects roughly 1% of the UK population. It describes the repetitive and habitual pulling out and plucking of hair on the head, eyelashes, eyebrows and other areas of the body. Sufferers of trichotillomania are often secretive about their condition, and will sometimes go to great lengths to conceal areas of hair loss.

Many are unaware that they are doing it at the time, and are often unable to control or stop the habit without professional help. Due to the highly noticeable nature of bald spots and on the scalp and bare eyelashes, many sufferers feel embarrassed and may even avoid social contact for fear of humiliation. Furthermore, long-term regular bouts of hair-pulling can result in permanent follicle damage that is irreversible.

Yet trichotillomania is still not widely understood by GP’s and psychologists, the general attitude by GPs to their patients tends to be insensitive, expecting sufferers to be able to stop on their own. This blunt approach usually does nothing to help the patient’s condition, or their self confidence, and reveals a general ignorance in the medical profession. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a technique that can help trichotillomania, but the NHS is generally against recommending such treatments. CBT is a psychological therapeutic technique used to change behaviour and engrained emotional disorders.

Trichotillomania cartoonTreatments for Trichotillomania

A range of treatments for trichotillomania are available, including medication in the form of anti-depressants and psychological treatment, but none are effectively medically proven to work.

As well as tackling the root psychological and behavioural causes of Trichotillomania, it is necessary to take steps to reverse the damage already done and restore the affected areas of hair to normal health. Even after the condition has ceased, bald spots and uneven patches of hair can remain. However it is important to note that until the habit itself is cured, conventional hair loss treatments will be of little use. This would be akin to throwing wood onto a fire in an attempt to put it out.

There are various techniques used that can help to kick the habit of trichotillomania. For more information please visit our trichotillomania page.

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