NOV 03, 2017 3:10 PM PDT

The Disorder that Makes People Pull Their Hair Out

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

There are many things that frustrate us to the point of wanting to pull our hair out, in the figurative sense. But for people with trichotillomania (TTM), hair pulling a literal way to cope.

Also known as hair pulling disorder, TTM is characterized by the urge to pull out one's hair. While the hair removal can occur anywhere on the body, hair on the head and around the eyes are most prone to being plucked away. In severe cases, people are left with noticeable bald patches on their scalp. People afflicted with TTM report a feeling of pleasure, relief, or gratification after they pull out the hair.

Although the cause of TTM is not known, there may be a genetic component, as in some cases, the disorder can run in families. Notably, TTM is often accompanied by other psychological conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, nail biting, skin picking, tic disorders, and eating disorders.

The conventional treatment for TTM is cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at reversing the hair pulling "habit." Medications can also supplement the behavioral therapy, reducing the urge to pull hair by reducing anxiety or depression triggers.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
FEB 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 24, 2020
What Will Space Tourism Be Like in the Future?
Space tourism that something that, at one point, was once considered to be a thing of science fiction. While only a limited number of people not registered...
MAR 03, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 03, 2020
This Fungus Kills Flies in an Unusual Way
If you’re a fly, then you’d do good to hope you never come in contact with a type of fungus known by its scientific name Entomophthora muscae....
MAR 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 08, 2020
2020 Has a Lot of Martian Missions in Store
Space agencies typically send missions to Mars once every several years, depending on the need for scientific exploration and the technological capabilitie...
MAR 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 09, 2020
What Dragonfly Will Do Upon Arriving At Titan
There’s so much happening by way of Martian exploration that it can be easy to forget all the other missions that are being deployed elsewhere in the...
MAR 15, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 15, 2020
The Incredible Life of a Sea Urchin
From start to finish, a sea urchin’s life involves an incredible and lengthy journey. From the moment a wandering sperm meets an egg somewhere in the...
APR 01, 2020
Health & Medicine
APR 01, 2020
Saliva Test can Measure THC Levels in Impaired Drivers
Now that cannabis products are legal in many states across the U.S., law officials need a quick and reliable way to test potentially impaired drivers. As s...
Loading Comments...