Is There a Cure for Trichotillomania?

Mar 1st, 2013

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Trichotillomania can have a devastatingly negative impact on a person’s life. Not only does hair pulling cause obvious physical issues, it also can cause a host of negative mental and emotional symptoms as well. Some of these negative emotional symptoms can include:

  • Embarrassment
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • A need for isolation and societal withdrawal

Because the symptomatic stakes surrounding the disorder are so high, there is a keen interest in knowing if there is a trichotillomania cure that works.

No Definitive Solution

While there have been several forms of treatment that have been developed to aid a person suffering from hair pulling, there is currently no official trichotillomania cure on the books. In a way, the reason for this is a manner of semantics. The word “cure” implies 100% success in eradicating a disorder and condition; as of right now, doctors have not figured out how to cure trichotillomania with that perfect level of accuracy.

In fact, the disorder itself remains somewhat of a mystery to physicians. While the condition falls in the classification of “Obsessive compulsive and related disorders,” it can be designated by a host of differentiating subcategories like impulse control disorder or body focused repetitive behavior. Additionally, the ways in which trichotillomania presents itself has made it somewhat difficult to track down its origins and development. For example, some people may develop trichotillomania in the wake of a traumatic event or an incident of high anxiety. Others may develop it as a coping mechanism for depression or relief from an uncontrollable urge.

Furthermore, trichotillomania is broken down into two distinctive classes whose methodologies may underscore the complexity of the disorder. The first class, known as automatic hair pulling, describes a trichotillomania sufferer who is unaware that they are pulling their hair, as the hair is extracted while the person is in a trance-like state. Conversely, the second class, known as focused hair pulling, describes a trichotillomania sufferer who actively and knowingly pulls their hair. These people may incorporate hair pulling as a part of a conscious ritual, a coping device, or the satisfaction of specific sensation or urge.

Because of these various subcategories and distinctions, there is still much that is still left to be discovered when it comes to trichotillomania. These discoveries must happen before a definitive method on how to cure trichotillomania can be developed.

What to do in the Meantime

Even though there is no cure for trichotillomania that has been devised, people that suffer from hair pulling can take comfort in knowing that there are several things they can do to work through the disorder.

For instance, there are some medications that can help control the secondary effects that are a part of trichotillomania, such as anti-depressants or topical skin creams. That said, it is recommended that the trichotillomania sufferer does consult with their physician prior to using medication.

Also, there are a host of various therapy-based treatments that a trichotillomania sufferer can seek out to not only help them work through the emotional symptoms and triggers that may cause hair pulling, but it can also surround them with support and encouragement in an environment that is free from judgment.

While these techniques can provide relief from trichotillomania, it is important to note that they do not qualify as cures for the disorder. As such, the person that suffers from hair pulling should treat the condition as an ongoing process that they must be mindful of even after undergoing treatment.


TrichStop’s editorial team is comprised of mental health professionals who specialize in research and treatment of BFRBs (body focused repetitive behaviors) such as trichotillomania (hair pulling) disorder. You can learn more about our team here.

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