Trichotillomania, known as trich or TTM, is a compulsive related disorder causing people to pull their hair out, from their scalp, eyelashes and eyebrows, pubic area or any other area of the body. It is not exactly known what causes the condition, although experts suggest a number of possible factors, including stress and anxiety, genetics, self-harm, hormone imbalances, or obsessive compulsive behaviour. Sufferers will most likely experience the following:
- Persistent pulling or plucking of hair, leading to noticeable hair loss
- Anxiety or a building tension before hair is pulled and a sense of relief once plucked
- It impacts upon their ability to deal with social, career-related or other aspects of everyday life
- The problem is not linked to another medical disorder
Many people suffering from trichotillomania incur noticeable bald patches from pulling their hair, however the level of hair pulling and its effects vary widely, as does the area affected and the treatment needed. Although some may be able to control their urges, others may find it unbearable and could cause permanent damage to the hair follicles. In many cases, sufferers may be able to fully regrow their hair once they have stopped pulling, yet for more severe cases where damage has resulted, the hair follicles may not be able to regenerate, causing permanent hair loss.
Improving the condition of hair
There are a number of things you can do or changes you can make to your lifestyle, to speed up hair regrowth if you have stopped pulling, or strengthen the condition of the hair:
Take on a healthy balanced diet: Although this is a simple change, making sure you’re feeding your body with essential nutrients - vegetables, fruits and proteins – will help hair grow more effectively. Proteins are essential for hair regrowth as hair is comprised of mostly protein. Minimising your intake of processed foods and consuming lean meat, fish rich essential fatty acids, or protein in eggs, pulses and nuts, will give your body the right fuel it needs to repair hair follicles and strengthen hair strands.
Supplements: Although it is probably better to get the vitamins and minerals you need for healthy hair from your diet, there are supplements available which can aid hair regrowth. Biotin, a B vitamin, and vitamin E supplements, are commonly used to support speedy hair growth and re-establish your natural growth cycle. Biotin will help to generate amino acids, which form proteins, and vitamin E acts as an antioxidant to help restore damaged follicles and promote hair growth. Massaging castor oil, high in vitamin E and protein, into the affected area, can also be an effective treatment for hair regrowth for those suffering from trichotillomania.
For baldness caused by the disorder, minoxidil is a medication in lotion form, which can be used in some cases to help with the regrowth process – seek professional advice.
Coping with trichotillomania
For women who have been pulling their hair out for a number of years, it is advisable to get checked for signs of hair thinning, telogen effluvium or female pattern hair loss. Whether the effects are permanent or temporary however, hair loss through trichotillomania can be a highly distressing experience, which can offset an ongoing hair pulling cycle. Sufferers may feel embarrassed about their condition or guilty about their behaviour, affecting confidence and happiness.
Many women opt for hair pieces or wigs to cope with hair loss, as they can help maintain self-esteem and comfortableness in everyday situations. Hair pieces are highly effective for trichotillomania sufferers, as they can be customised to match the colour of the wearer’s existing hair and can be subtly placed to cover partial areas or fully cover the head. Mane Spray can also be used to give the illusion of full hair coverage if hair loss is less severe and is available in various different colours to match the natural hair colour. There are a variety of different types of natural looking hair pieces and wigs available we have available to help people with trichotillomania feel more confident in themselves during their difficult time, without impacting on daily activities.
For more information and advice, feel free to give us a call on 0121 350 3826.