What is Trichotillomania?
Also known as a hair-pulling disorder, Trichotillomania is a chronic, psychological disorder marked by the persistent, irresistible urge to pull hair from various areas of the body. Most commonly hair is removed from areas such as the eyebrows or scalp, however, any part of the body having hair can be targeted. Symptoms vary in severity but without treatment can continue for weeks or even years.
The emotional affects
Having Trichotillomania can be extremely upsetting for sufferers, who often go to great lengths to mask the condition. For example, where large areas of hair have been pulled from the scalp, hats may be worn even inside, to prevent sections of baldness from becoming apparent. Fear of the condition being noticed can become intense, making social contact uncomfortable, due to feelings of embarrassment or shame. People with the condition might even choose to avoid social situations altogether.
The irresistible urge to pull hair
The compulsive urges to pull hair can come in waves, ranging from mild and controllable to overwhelming and irresistible. Such urges are often preceded by feelings of mounting tension or anxiety, where pulling the hair provides temporary relief.
Trichotillomania can involve hair-pulling rituals and even the consumption of or chewing of removed hair. Often the condition is accompanied by other habits such as nail biting, skin picking and lip chewing.
People with Trichotillomania find it extremely difficult to stop pulling their hair. They might pull their hair intentionally or without realising they are doing so, such as when involved in other activities such as watching television.
Like many other habits, Trichotillomania can be associated with negative emotions. People with the condition may find that hair pulling helps them cope with feelings of negativity, tension, stress, tiredness, loneliness and even boredom. However, because the act of pulling out hair provides them with feelings of relief, they might then continue the habit to maintain those positive feelings.
Trichotillomania is more common in teenagers and young adults but it is not yet clear what causes the condition. Other than being a form of OCD or a way to cope with stress and anxiety, the condition could be triggered by a chemical imbalance in the brain, hormonal changes in the body and even genetics.
If you or your child have a habit of pulling out your hair or even eating it, it is important that you see your GP. The condition is unlikely to improve without treatment and serious illness may develop if hairballs form in the stomach.
Trichotillomania is usually treated with cognitive behavioural therapy, which helps sufferers identify the triggers that cause them to pull hair and then learn to avoid those triggers.
Alongside therapy, people with Trich often find that using specific tools such as fidget spinners, stress balls, weighted blankets and tight fitting hats can help them resist the urge to pull hair. Calming activities such as relaxation and breathing techniques and certain exercises can also provide relief and distraction.
Thumb guards and finger guards may also help people with Trichotillomania as they act as a barrier between the fingers and the hair. It is difficult to pull hair when wearing thumb guards or finger guards and the sensations of touch on the finger tips are greatly diminished by the fabric. Many sufferers use plasters around the fingertips to achieve the same purpose. However, for young children, thumb guards and finger guards are a much safer option because plasters pose a choking risk.
How can we help you?
At The Thumb Guard Store we are always happy to design guards that are specifically suited to your individual needs. Whether you need one finger covered, the whole hand or even a padded guard, please do contact us. We create guards that help break habits without breaking the bank.