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
NOV 12, 2020
Health & Medicine
Measles Cases and Deaths Surge Worldwide
NOV 12, 2020
Measles Cases and Deaths Surge Worldwide
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a stat ...
JAN 05, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Could Earth's Microbes Help Us Find Extraterrestrial Life?
JAN 05, 2021
Could Earth's Microbes Help Us Find Extraterrestrial Life?
As scientists are learning more about microbes existing in the higher echelons of the Earth's atmosphere, they are b ...
MAR 31, 2021
Plants & Animals
Spring Winds Following Warmer Winters Cause Mass Jellyfish Strandings
MAR 31, 2021
Spring Winds Following Warmer Winters Cause Mass Jellyfish Strandings
Beachgoers are certainly not fond of jellyfish in the water, but seeing hundreds of them wash ashore is an interesting a ...
MAY 23, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
MAY 23, 2021
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
Current theories suggest that stars undergo changes on timescales of millions or billions of years, and that their end i ...
MAY 28, 2021
Plants & Animals
Wild Gorillas Adopt Orphaned Babies
MAY 28, 2021
Wild Gorillas Adopt Orphaned Babies
An analysis of over 50 years of data reveals that with the help of their social group, orphaned mountain gorillas do jus ...
JUL 22, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Telescope Riding a Balloon Could Replace Hubble
JUL 22, 2021
Telescope Riding a Balloon Could Replace Hubble
The Earth's atmosphere often muffles views from ground-based telescopes when observing space. Now, a research c ...
Loading Comments...