In the past I have discussed my having a condition called Trichotillomania (an impulse control disorder characterized by the repeated urge to pull out scalp hair, eyelashes, facial hair, nose hair, pubic hair, eyebrows or other body hair, sometimes resulting in noticeable bald patches).  Last night, on an episode of 20/20, they discussed Trich on their Medical Mysteries installment.  I was surprised to find out how much more common it is than I ever thought. I was also shocked to hear some of the same thoughts and feelings I have had about this for so many years. Things I have never even spoken of because of it sounding so very strange. I am very lucky in the fact that I do not have a severe case of Trich. I have never pulled out the hairs on my head, thank God!! My main focus was always my eyebrows. There were times in my life when I would have half of an eyebrow or be covered in bloody scabs. Once the scabbing happens, I become obsessed with picking those as well.


At one point in the show last night, the expert Doctor being interviewed said something that really hit home. She said that Trich patients will find themselves spending hours picking at that one hair they feel just does not belong. That is exactly how I have tried to explain it to my family – with no success I might add. Family, friends, teachers…they would always just hit me or tell me to stop…yell at me, make fun, act disgusted, etc. It honestly made me want to pick more. I have pulled out my eyebrows since I was about 16 years old. I was an obcessive scab picker long before that.


Right now, I am putting Mederma on several spots on my face where I picked and picked causing scars only several weeks ago. When I wash off my makeup and look in the mirror at all my scars, I am disgusted and very sad that I will always be marked up. I will never feel comfortable leaving the house without makeup.


I am very glad this is being discussed. I hope that the media continues to shed light on this strange problem.


Below I have given links to some videos and the story posted on the 20/20 site. I think you might find them very interesting, especially if you know someone with this condition. Even more so if you have it yourself.


Video – Pulling Hair: One Strand at a Time


Video – Hair Pulling Compulsion Linked to Gene Defect


Video – Trichotillomania: A Hair Pulling Gene


 20/20 Story – Trichotillomania a True Medical Mystery


7 thoughts on “Trichotillomania – Hair Pulling

  1. I almost know exactly how you feel… I say almost because I’m a guy, and makeup isn’t an option to cover the scars from 20+ years of picking and pulling. I also tend to fixate on my eyebrows… I’m a redhead but my eyebrows are really light blonde, but there always seems to be one or two dark auburn ones that drive me frickin nuts. I’ve never pulled out much more than a small patch of my brows, but I’ve had to shave off the remainder of a decimated moustache more times than I can recall. I’m on 4mg of risperdal daily for bipolar mania, and it really helps calm my trich too…but I still occasionally get the urge. And when it does hit me, it’s usually bad. I feel like a freak standing in front of the mirror for hours… so long sometimes my legs cramp… but I swear I’m frickin powerless against it. I want soooo bad to stop, but theres nothing I’ve tried that kills the urge 100%.

    Hang in there sister, you’re definately not alone.

    1. Just read an article about treating trich with try-cyclic antidepressants. I switched from a try-cyclic (doxepin) to an SSRI (sertraline) years ago, but I think i might approach my shrink about starting a low dose of tri-cyc. It might be worth looking into for yourself as well… my main complaint with tri-cyclics is that they tend to be rrrrrreally sedating when you first start them… hope this helps.


  2. I pull out my eyelashes until half of them are gone. I do it when I’m stressed or thinking. my solution was wearing less mascara because thats what always made me want to pull more. I’m sorry you have to deal with scars. I hope your dermatologist can help you.

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  4. my son has been pulling his hair out for the past two years, he is 5 years old now and i’m at the end of my teather trying to convince him to stop. he is leaving himself with random bald patches around his head, usually the front over his forehead. i’ve tried to shave his head short to get him to stop but he gets very upset. it’s really hard to try and explain that he can’t do it but i don’t want to upset him either. has anyone any advice?thanks

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