trichotillomania in children

Trichotillomania is seven times more common in children than in adults and usually begins in preteens with the mean age of onset 12 years for girls and 8 years for boys. A form of childhood trauma, such as sexual abuse, usually causes the onset of trichotillomania. It is believed that childhood onset of trichotillomania can be outgrown, or cured more easily than adult onset trichotillomania.

Causes of Trichotillomania in Children

Tactile, oral and skin stimulation in children can be an important component of trichotillomania. Children who seek tactile, oral and skin stimulation are more likely to pull hair as an additional form of self-stimulation. The sensory seeking behavior of pulling out hair has a self -soothing effect similar to that achieved by rocking, thumb sucking or holding a stuffed animal.

Diagnosis of Trichotillomania in a Child

Children usually do not have the same awareness as older children and adults, and are not ashamed by their hair pulling. Children will typically not try to hide their hair pulling, which makes the diagnosis of trichotillomania in a child much easier than the diagnosis of trichotillomania in an adult. The sooner a child is diagnosed; the sooner treatment can begin, which has been shown to result in faster recovery times.

Awareness of Trichotillomania in a Child

A child with trichotillomania may not be as self aware as an adult with the disorder, but can suffer knowing that they are different than their peers and that there is “something wrong with them”. Trichotillomania can negatively impact a child’s self esteem and make them a target for bulling and teasing due to obvious hair loss resulting form the trichotillomania. Many children will go through a phase of hair pulling or fascination with others hair. This is completely normal and does not mean that the child is suffering from trichotillomania. If the child begins to loose patches of hair, or expresses that they wish they could stop hair pulling, treatment should be administered to the child.

>> Get comprehensive articles about Trichotillomania in Children on the new TrichStop site.