Trichotillomania (TTM) and traction alopecia is characterized by repetitive pulling of hair habitually and results in baling scalp. People with trichotillomania most often pull hair from their scalp, eyebrows or eyelids. For those who suffer from trichotillomania, the act of pulling out a hair can feel very satisfying and can provide a temporary release of tension, even hard to stop. Many people who have trichotillomania go to some lengths to hide the condition. Trichotillomania affects one to three percent of the population in adults and children, more often in children ages 9-13 years than other age.
Patients will pull hair out, and some may eat their own hair or even eat the hair of others. Usually the ends of the root bulb are eaten or the hair shaft. Then the hair would collect in the gastrointestinal tract (hair ball) and cause indigestion and stomach pain. This mental disorder is to such a degree that it results in distress, anxiety or traumatic experience. In the psychiatric field it is considered a compulsive psychological disorder.
Trichotillomania is frequently misdiagnosed as alopecia areata, as the both conditions look similar to untrained people, and patients may be ashamed to discuss their symptoms. According to American Psychiatric Association, there are 5 criteria which must be met in order for trichotillomania to be diagnosed:
Patient is pulling hair recurrently and has noticeable pattern of hair loss
Patient feels increased tension prior to the hair pulling.
This tension is relieved upon pulling hairs.
The pulling is not associated with another mental condition, and there is no medical cause for the hair pulling.
The behavior interferes with or disrupts the patient’s social and work activities.