Can We Treat Trichotillomania and How Successful is Treatment?

Depending on the severity of the case of Trichotillomania, it is possible to treat the condition with medication. The factor that decides whether medication will succeed in growing back hair that has been affected by Trichotillomania is down to whether the follicles are still functional or not. As well as treatment, non-surgical hair replacement is a successful technique that we use for trichotillomania. A hair integration system not only covers up the appearance of Trichotillomania, but also prevents the individual from getting to the area, which can help beat the habit. We have had some success with this method and were recently featured in a documentary on BBC’s Channel 4.

What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania is based on an obsession with the hair. People with Trichotillomania tug, twist or pull their hair out creating bald patches or areas of diffuse thinning. The hair for plucking is selected from other hair based on it being different in some way, perhaps feeling rough to the touch or more curly than other fibres. Once a bald area has been created it becomes even more enticing to pull at the hair around it, making the alopecia patch larger. Sometimes Trichotillomania is more generalised and looks like a diffuse alopecia. Trichotillomania is generally a non-scarring non-inflammatory form of hair loss, although long term repeated pulling over several years may result in irreversible scarring and damage to some hair follicles.

Trichotillomania affects 2-3% of all people with hair loss, making it a fairly common condition. Studies have identified the scalp as being the most commonly affected area. Approximately 70% of cases of Trichotillomania involve scalp hair loss, 50% involve eyebrows or eyelashes, 30% include pubic hair, 20% body hair and about 10% involve facial hair.

As well as plucking the hair, individuals with Trichotillomania may then chew or eat the hair. Hair eating is known as Trichophagia. About 40% of cases involve hair chewing while 10% of individuals with Trichotillomania eat their hair. Eating hair is unwise as it is very irritating to the stomach and can lead to digestion problems and ulcers.

Many individuals who suffer from Trichotillomania are often unaware of what they are doing and do not realise the reason for their hair loss.

Trichotillomania can affect both children and adults although the adult version almost always affects women. Psychiatrists regard Trichotillomania as a psychological disorder and treatment will usually involve therapy.