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Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a mental illness in which a person feels a strong urge to pull out his or her own hair. Usually, hair is pulled from the head, eyelashes, and eyebrows.

Trichotillomania most often occurs in teenage girls. However, children and adults of all ages and both sexes can be affected.

The exact cause is not known. Contributing factors may include stressful events, drug abuse, or a chemical imbalance in the brain similar to that seen in people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Symptoms may include:

  • Patches of baldness.
  • Broken pieces of hair.
  • Sparse eyebrows or eyelashes.
  • Denial of a hair-pulling problem and attempts to conceal the problem.

Treatment usually involves medicine and psychotherapy.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised May 29, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 29, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.