Trichotillomania is a disorder characterized by the pulling of hair for non-cosmetic purposes, which can often result in significant hair loss. Hair is typically pulled from eyebrows, eyelashes, scalp, beard and pubic area, though hair from other parts of the body may be pulled as well.
Individuals with Trichotillomania may also play with, bite, nibble or chew the hair. If ingested, this may cause a serious condition in need of medical attention. It is not uncommon for people with this disorder to engage in other damaging behaviors such as nail-biting or skin-picking. It appears that significant emotional experiences or feelings can trigger hair pulling. Anxiety, depression, stress, anger, and tension may increase the urge to pull. However, hair pulling may also occur when the individual is inactive and subdued; while reading, watching television, doing homework or even lying in bed. Here at RCBM, we fully evaluate individuals suffering from Trichotillomania to assess the disorder and determine if any conditions result from or contribute to the pulling of hair. In addition, we assess the impact on social functioning, academic environment and family relationships. Often times, we work with the family utilizing a cognitive-behavioral approach. This consists of putting together a treatment plan focusing on triggers associated with the pulling (thoughts and feelings – physical and emotional) and the situations in which the pulling occurs. We meet with the patient and family regularly to determine progress and discuss the factors contributing to the pulling/picking behaviors. It is not uncommon for clinicians to ask patients with Trichotillomania to complete activities outside of the therapy session, such as journal writing, progress calendars, worksheets, and creating barriers like wearing band-aids/gloves or hats/scarves.
RCBM is currently involved in clinical trials on the following research topics: