Treatments for Trichotillomania. How to Cure Compulsive Hair Pulling.


The obsessive urge to pull out hair and pull out eyelashes is called trichotillomania. Trichototillomania in children is particularly worrying and, treatments for this obsessive hair pulling phobia need to be looked at early. Having obsessive thoughts about pulling out eyelashes is a terrible obsessive compulsive disorder (ocd) to have.

Trichotillomania is an ocd whose symptom is the urge to pull out one’s hair or eyelashes. Treatments involve natural solutions such as health food supplements. Alternatively, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy can also be used as a treatment.  This article will define trichotillomania and give information on latest research, cures and treatments.

What is Trichotillomania?

Symptoms of trichotillomania are the obsessive compulsive pulling of hair or eyelashes.  More commonly found in for women, it is believed to affect around two to four percent of the population to a certain extent. It is not just restricted to hair on the head.  For example, eyelashes, eyebrows, body hair, facial hair and even pubic hair can be pulled out as a symptom of this ocd.  It is medically classified as an impulse control disorder by DSM IV.

According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, ‘Patients tend to be highly secretive about the condition and to regard their behavior as shameful. Many hair pullers also exhibit additional stereotypic movements, such as nail biting, knuckle cracking, touching or playing with pulled hair, and hair eating (trichophagia)’.

 What is the Cause of Trichotillomania?

Although there hasn’t been any population wide studies of trichotillomania, researchers have found that ‘Trichotillomania is frequently linked with other conditions, notably mood and anxiety disorders. In a study of 60 adult hair pullers recruited from a trichotillomania clinic and newspaper advertisements, 82% had a past or current axis I diagnosis other than trichotillomania’.  In addition, some believe that a gene mutation (which is related to Tourette’s syndrome) can act as a trigger for this ocd.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment for Trichotillomania

This type of treatment focuses on teaching and training sufferers to learn awareness of when and why they are pulling, and help them reverse the habit. A range of pharmacotherapies and behavioral therapies are also available. Unfortunately, there isn’t any one specific psychotherapy approach that is generally proscribed.

Drug Treatments for Trichotillomania

A range of drug treatments have been used and proscribed by medical doctors, including the usual variety of anti-depressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which are normal understood to be effective treatments for ocd. Ultimately, a combination of psychotherapy and an anti-depressant treatment may prove the best course of treatment.

Alternative Health Treatments and Food Supplements

The latest research suggests that a common antioxidant called N-Acetylcysteine may help in the struggle to treat trichotillomania. This is an ingredient in a health food supplement. Although the study is hardly comprehensive it does offer hope that there maybe a a naturak health food supplement that could help.


Chamberlain SR, Menzies L, Sahakian BJ, Fineberg NA (April 2007). "Lifting the veil on trichotillomania". Am J Psychiatry 164 (4): 568–74.

Christenson GA, Mackenzie TB, Mitchell JE: Characteristics of 60 adult chronic hair pullers. Am J Psychiatry 1991; 148:365—370