Trichotillomania is a medical condition where an obsessive need to pull at the hair causes excessive follicular damage which leads to patchy hair loss and potential baldness. Trichotillomania is technically not an obsessive compulsive disorder, nor is it a form of intentional self-mutilation. Some have likened it to tourettes syndrome – a neurological disorder marked by repetitive, involuntary movements or outbursts, but the genetics and biological components of trichotillomania are not yet known.
Those with trichotillomania hair loss can experience its symptoms usually before the age of 17. Some research suggests that trichotillomania may affect as much as 4% of the population and women are four times more likely to be affected than men.
One of the primary concerns of a person experiencing trichotillomania is the appearance of their hair. However, no hair loss treatment will work unless the hair pulling stops. People experiencing trichotillomania are advised to seek medical advice. Physchological help is often required in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Many turn to wigs and hairpieces while they seek support.