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Hair Pulling: Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I begin?

The Trichotillomania Learning Center (TLC) website is a great place to begin your search for answers and recovery. TLC is much like a home base for trichotillomania. Sufferers and their families, treatment providers, and researchers all connect through TLC. We urge you to become a member. By joining together we send a message to the world that trichotillomania affects millions of people and deserves more research and resources.

Who gets it?

People of all ages, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and socio-economic backgrounds have trichotillomania. In early childhood, it seems to occur as frequently in boys as girls. By adulthood, 80-90% of reported cases are women. It is estimated to affect 2-4% of the population, or two to ten million Americans.

Will it go away?

It is impossible to predict the duration of trichotillomania for any individual person. Without treatment, trichotillomania tends to be a chronic condition that may wax and wane in severity throughout a lifetime. Yet, in some cases, especially in infants or early childhood, hair pulling may be a very temporary problem that begins and ends quite mysteriously.

Is there a cure?

While there is no known "cure" for trichotillomania, there are many treatment options available, and thousands of people have become pull-free. Even if the urges to pull never disappear completely, you may still reduce its power and gain more control.

Is it my fault?

No! It is not your fault. Trichotillomania is a neurological disorder, and may even be genetic. You did not cause your hair pulling.

Is it my parent's fault?

In the same way that it is not your fault, trichotillomania cannot be blamed on parents either!

Are people with TTM trying to hurt themselves?

Generally, people with trichotillomania are not trying to hurt themselves, just as people who bite their nails are not trying to injure themselves. Most people with trichotillomania are upset by the resulting damage to their appearance and make great efforts to control or stop the behavior.

Is this OCD?

Trichotillomania at times resembles Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the feelings of compulsion and repetitive behavior, but the two disorders have different symptoms and require different treatments. Trichotillomania may also resemble a tic disorder, as the action of pulling feels automatic and is preceded by an uncomfortable sensation that must be relieved.

Why doesn't anyone seem to know about trichotillomania?

TTM did not appear in the popular media in the United States until about 1989. As a result, many people with TTM have gone for many years without adequate information about their condition, or appropriate treatment. Consequently, the one symptom that most people with TTM share is shame.

Am I crazy?

Absolutely not! You are not crazy, helpless, weak or out of control, even though you may feel like some or all of these things at times. Once you get down to realizing that you are just a person with a problem you can start to make some serious progress. There isn't a "cure," but you can find a recovery if you work at it.

Am I the only one?

No, you are not! 2-4% of the population suffers from trichotillomania. You are not alone!

Do people do this for attention?

No. Most people with trichotillomania are embarrassed and/or ashamed of their hair pulling, and do not want others to know. People with trichotillomania make great efforts to hide their behavior from those around them-even from their parents, spouses and/or children.

Is there hope?

Certainly! Many people have recovered from trichotillomania, and enjoy pull-free lives.

Will my hair grow back?

In most cases, yes. There are certainly the instances constant and prolonged hair pulling has damaged the hair follicles; however, in most cases, your hair will grow back in its entirety.

Where can I find help?

TLC maintains lists of treatment providers across the country. You can also contact TLC to have a list of providers mailed to you. TLC also has listings of trich-friendly salons and other service providers.

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