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How Can I Deal With My Trichotillomania?

I have trichotillomania. When I tell my mom about it she just tells me to use willpower and quit. But it's hard and she just won't understand. I pick hair one by one off my head. I feel it with my hand and get rid of the dry/curly/uneven/ridged ones. (I have straight hair.) Sometimes I realize I do it, sometimes I don't. Maybe it runs in the family? My grandma used to do it. And some of my aunts. Should I go see a doctor? I don't have any bald spots... yet...

Dealing with trichotillomania can be very challenging. There's such a strong urge to pull hair or lashes, and it can feel like your awareness keeps getting drawn to the hair — sometimes when you don't even realize it.

Your mom may not understand how powerful the urges can feel or how automatically you can be drawn to it without thinking. To other people, trichotillomania can seem like a habit someone could "just stop doing" by using willpower. But if it were that easy, no one would be struggling with this health condition.

Show your mom our article. It might help her understand more. Then ask her to schedule an appointment with a therapist who works with trichotillomania or OCD-like conditions. If you're not sure who to call, make an appointment with your family doctor and ask for help finding a therapist. The right therapist can help you come up with a plan that will work and teach you what to do to resist urges.

It's hard to resist strong urges — but the more you practice resisting, the better at it you'll become. Eventually, if you keep resisting urges to pull hair (instead of giving in), the urges will begin to lose strength. It can take a while, so be patient and don't give up. You may have to accept a few ups and downs until you've got the problem under control.

Trichotillomania does run in families. It's thought to be related to the way the brain's chemistry is regulated. But it can be dealt with — and the earlier, the better so it doesn't start controlling your life.

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Date reviewed: March 2013