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
JUL 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Should We Fly By Venus on the Way to Mars?
JUL 07, 2020
Should We Fly By Venus on the Way to Mars?
After landing on the Moon, heading to Mars became the next logical step for space exploration. Some suggest that flying ...
AUG 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
What Will the End of the Universe Look Like?
AUG 16, 2020
What Will the End of the Universe Look Like?
Matt Caplan, a theoretical physicist at Illinois State University, has calculated when the last supernova will happen in ...
SEP 01, 2020
Plants & Animals
Warsaw Zoo Testing CBD to Manage Elephants' Stress
SEP 01, 2020
Warsaw Zoo Testing CBD to Manage Elephants' Stress
Humans use cannabidiol (CBD) for its array of health benefits, and household pets even benefit from CBD treatments in sp ...
SEP 18, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Toward Understanding Anesthesia
SEP 18, 2020
Toward Understanding Anesthesia
General anesthesia refers to the medical procedure anesthesiologists applies to patients, in order to induce paraly ...
OCT 02, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
OCT 02, 2020
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
Our ancestors had a long history of building dwelling structures using clay and plant-based fibrous materials. Even thes ...
NOV 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
NOV 06, 2020
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
Researchers have found that there could be at least 300 million habitable worlds in the Milky Way galaxy. This could mea ...
Loading Comments...