The Truth About Compulsive Hair Pulling

For some folks, “pulling my hair out” isn’t simply an expression — it’s a legit concern. Compulsive hair pulling is a sort of body-focused repetitive habits (BFRB) that impacts 1 to 2% of Americans, principally ladies. The uncontrollable urge to tug hair may end up in bald spots on the scalp, eyebrows and lashes.

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Experts don’t know what causes the extraordinary want to tug hair, however there could also be a genetic hyperlink. Thankfully, restoration is feasible. Preventive drugs doctor and wellness professional Sandra Darling, DO, provides her insights.

Q: What are the explanations folks expertise hair pulling?

A: People who compulsively pull their hair usually really feel disgrace and embarrassment but proceed pulling anyway as a result of the habits:

  • Is robust to withstand.
  • Provides calm and reduction.
  • Gives a way of gratification or pleasure.
  • Is automated, so the particular person isn’t even conscious they’re doing it.

People with a hair-pulling dysfunction (also referred to as trichotillomania) might have triggers, like boredom or fatigue. Emotional triggers embody feeling anxious, careworn or overwhelmed. 

Q: What emotional toll can a hair-pulling dysfunction have?

A: People who chronically pull their hair change into superb at hiding the habits in the event that they really feel bizarre or irregular about it. They might really feel like they’re the one one that has this urge, which might cause them to expertise feelings equivalent to:

In some instances, the affect of hair pulling goes past beauty and psychological injury. Some folks eat their pulled hairs. The hair can get matted within the digestive tract and create a hairball, which will be life-threatening if it causes a blockage. Surgery could also be essential to take away it. 

Q: What are some methods to efficiently overcome hair pulling?

A: Some folks can utterly cease hair pulling habits. For others, trichotillomania is a lifelong dysfunction that ebbs and flows with life’s occasions and stressors. Well-meaning family and friends members ought to keep away from telling their family members to cease pulling — trichotillomania is a dysfunction that requires skilled assist.

An individual who pulls can be taught to manage the urge by way of a mix of therapies, equivalent to:

  • Behavioral coaching: A therapist skilled in treating trichotillomania will help enhance set off consciousness and reduce the urge to tug. Therapists might use totally different approaches, together with habit-reversal coaching or hypnotherapy. Behavioral therapy additionally helps reduce the unfavourable feelings somebody feels and improves shallowness. 
  • Medication: People who expertise power hair pulling might profit from drugs to assist quell the urge to tug or to deal with associated circumstances like melancholy or nervousness.
  • Self-care: Prioritizing self-care, together with common meals, train and sleep, are important for the highway to restoration. Meditation, yoga and journaling are rest strategies that may scale back nervousness by creating a way of calm, enhance confidence and resiliency, and enhance self-awareness to raised acknowledge triggers and urges.
  • Social connections: An individual making an attempt to cease this habits advantages from the assist of mates and family members. Connecting with others who’ve the identical struggles can be useful. The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors provides a listing of assist teams and academic occasions.

Q: How can folks keep away from drawing consideration to their bald spots?

A: To conceal the situation, many individuals use hair extensions known as crown toppers. They can also use false eyelashes or eyebrow pencils to disguise areas of hair loss. Hats and headscarves are typical as properly.

But whilst you might need to conceal the results, don’t conceal the dysfunction. Be open and sincere. Confide in a good friend or cherished one so you can begin on the trail to restoration. And yow will discover inspiration from those that have publicized their struggles with hair pulling, like Megan Fox and JessiKate Riley (Miss Utah 2017). 

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