Trichotillomania is a hair pulling disorder. A person suffering from this disorder feels the urge to pull their hair from their head, eyebrows, eyelashes, pubic hair, and hair on any other body part. Some trichotillomania patients eat hair, which causes gastrointestinal problems — a condition called trichophagia. This leads to severe hair loss and unequal hair and bald patches on the scalp.
Although people suffering from trichotillomania tend to deny their hair pulling habit, physical evidence clearly shows the severity of this disorder.
Here are the top five symptoms of trichotillomania:
1. Hair loss on the scalp: Due to frequent pulling of hair, people suffering from trichotillomania commonly suffer from hair loss or bald patches on the scalp. Hair loss is also seen on eyelashes or eyebrows or any other hairy body parts. The hair of trichotillomania patients tend to be broken or uneven due to the patients’ persistent behavior of hair pulling. This is the most obvious of all symptoms of trichotillomania. People suffering from this hair loss disorder often pull their hair, especially when they are at rest or doing sedentary activities. They tend to twist, curl, or pull hair repeatedly. Other activities include trying to chew or bring hair near their face or lips. This most common of trichotillomania signs can often be misdiagnosed as alopecia or hair loss.
2. Anxiety: Anxiety is another important symptom of trichotillomania. The patient tends to pull hair repeatedly. This causes stress injury or carpal tunnel syndrome in many hair pulling disorder patients. However, high anxiety does not let the patient refrain from the act of hair pulling. They continue to pull in order to relieve their anxiety. Inspite of repeated objection from family members or friends, trichotillomania patients continue to pull hair.
3. Trichophagia: This is a gastrointestinal disorder that normally occurs with trichotillomania. The person exhibiting trichotillomania symptoms generally chew their hair, which clogs the gastrointestinal tract. In some severe cases, this leads to hair ball syndrome called trichobezoar. This syndrome can be fatal if not treated appropriately.
4. Psychological effects: This is among important trichotillomania signs. The person suffering from this hair pulling disorder tends to avoid friends or coworkers or acquaintances due to low self-esteem. The bald patches and uneven hair might lead to negative attention and the trichotillomania patient shuns people to avoid them noticing the changes in appearance. This generally happens when trichotillomania hair loss is very evident.
5. Associated problems: Other problems associated with the symptoms of trichotillomania are infection of the scalp, repetitive stress injury, or carpal tunnel syndrome. These are caused due to repetitive pulling. The area of the scalp sometimes bleeds or gets infected. Repetitive stress injury is caused to the arms and fingers due to habitual hair pulling.
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