Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Abbreviation: TM.

ICD-10: F63.3.

The word, trichotillomania is used for hair loss due to a child twisting, pulling or plucking out his/her hair, eyebrows or eyelashes. Trichotillomania does not cause permanent hair loss, harm to the hair follicles nor does it cause brain damage. When the pulling, twisting or plucking stops, the child's hair will grow back normally. Trichotillomania is quite common in children and the behavior responds well to treatment.

Among children, girls and boys are equally represented, however in adulthood; females are far more likely to have the condition than males.

There is no certain cause of trichotillomania, but the current way of looking at trichotillomania is as a medical illness. One theory on a biological level is that there is some disruption in the system involving one of the chemical messengers between the nerve cells in parts of the brain. There may be also a combination of factors such as a genetic predisposition and an aggravating stress or circumstance; as with many other illnesses. Further, trichotillomania could be a symptom caused by different factors in different individuals just as a cough can be produced by a multitude of different medical problems. Finding the causes will take more research.


    An uneven appearance to the hair.

  • Bare patches or all around (diffuse) loss of hair.

  • Recurrent pulling out of one's hair resulting in noticeable hair loss.

  • An increasing sense of tension immediately before pulling out the hair or when resisting the behavior.

  • Pleasure, gratification, or relief when pulling out the hair.

  • The disturbance is not accounted for by another mental disorder and is not due to a general medical condition (i.e.,dermatological condition).

  • The disturbance causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas offunctioning.


In order to diagnosis trichotillomania, a health care provider may perform biopsies of the skin and hair to determine how damage occurred. A piece of tissue may be removed (biopsy) to rule out other causes, such as a scalp infection, and to explain the hair loss.Often, healthcare providers will refer trichotillomania suffers for psychological consultations with a mental health practitioner. A positive diagnosis of trichotillomania must meet the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a guide for diagnosing mental illnesses.


Current treatments most commonly used include cognitive behavioural therapy and or the use of pharmacological treatment. Behavioural techniques include awareness training, development of competing responses and relaxation exercises. Medications that effect neurotransmitter levels have been shown to be the most effective. Anafranil (clomipramine), Prozac (fluoxetine) and, most recently Zoloft (sertraline) have been used with varying levels of success.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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