I think I have trichotillomania. When I was 12 years old, I started pulling my hair out of my head to the point where I developed a bald spot. My parents are both doctors, but I don’t think they know what trichotillomania is because they’ve noticed, but haven’t really done anything to help me. I am really insecure about it…help!

Glad you wrote us about this problem because it happens to lots of other youth who may have similar questions. Trichotillomania (trik-o-till-o-MAY-nee-uh) (TTM), also called the “hair pulling disorder,” is thought to be a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). When people think about OCD, they imagine someone doing something multiple times in a row. For example, a person goes to wash their hands, seems like a simple task right? It might not be for a person with OCD, if hand washing is their trigger, their minds may tell them that they must wash their hands for a minimum of 10-12 times before their compulsion (hand-washing) is satisfied.

Trichotillomania can occur in both boys and girls and in children, teens, and adults. Hair pulling can occur anywhere there is hair on the body and is typically removed from the root in large clumps, providing people with a feeling of accomplishment and relief. Once the hair is pulled out, people with TTM typically play with it or put it in their mouths. People affected by TTM usually hide it from their family and friends because they are embarrassed about their habit. It’s possible to stop TTM and experience hair regrowth in areas that may be balding. If you think you have TTM, talk to your health care provider (HCP). There are different medications and behavioral therapies that can help you stop TTM.