Trichotillomania is the repetitive pulling of hair. Most trichotillomania sufferers focus on the scalp and eyelashes, but can go to eyebrows and pubic hair. It affects not only cosmetically but psychologically as well. People suffering from this disease need support, education, and outreach programs designed by people that realize that they can’t simply “just stop it”. Studies estimate that there is 2%-3% of the population that has this affliction. (Keuthen,1998). It affects everyone equally, no matter the age, sex, race, or genetic makeup. Medications and alternative therapies such as behavior management and hypnosis are explored as treatments for this OCD like illness. Like OCD, many times the sufferer doesn’t even realize he or she is doing the pulling or picking until they come out of it, as if in a fog.
Children with trichotillomania are at a 1:1 female to male ratio when they are diagnosed as a child, but as the diagnosis progresses into adulthood that ratio becomes more tilted with more women than men. Sufferers tend to be secretive in their symptoms, often times wearing wigs or caps or using the “I just over tweezed again” excuse for brows.
Trichotillomania Learning Center (TLC) was founded in 1991 and is a nonprofit organization. They offer compulsive hair pullers, and other body focused repetitive disorders like skin picking, a great source of support and information at their website. They have also had over a million people visit their website and provided help to at least 100,000. TLC was a major part of the National Trichotillomania Awareness Week. It is the first of its kind. The Trichotillomania Learning Center staff focuses on helping those who need the latest news and treatment options. More information about trichotillomania, TLC, or the National Trichotillomania Awareness Week can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (831)457-1004.
On the TLC website there are many ways for you to help raise awareness, you can sign up for an email list, or volunteer to distribute or stuff envelopes with information packets. You can even have a private special screening with you and your friends or professionals of “Bad Hair Day”, a movie on the disease. Be sure to check out the website to volunteer to help raise awareness and funds for trichotillomania.
Trichotillomania Website Resources
TLC – Trichotillomania Learning Center
Amanda’s Trich Web Guide
Tina’s Trichotillomania Site
Trichotillomania Parents Group