Trichotillomania Statistics

I feel that trichotillomania, or pulling out your own hair, is something that isn’t really talked about by many people. You may have seen someone do it and thought it was ‘weird’ or if you do it yourself you might think you are the only one. But the truth is that a lot of people do this to themselves. It is common. I once read it was as common as biting your nails.

I decided to do a little search for the statistics of how many people pull out their own hair. Whilst this may not offer much comfort, it always helps to know you are not alone, that it is not ‘weird’.

1. How Many People Have Trichotillomania?

This is unclear due to the fact that many people who pull out their hair go untreated and some do not even realise the condition has a name. The estimates I have found state figures of around 2% of the population (I think this applies to America rather than the UK). As stated above, I read many years ago that it was as common as biting nails, but I am not sure about this.

Cases of trichotillomania (or TTM/ trich) have become more common in recent years. This is probably due to the fact that people are hearing more of the condition and people are therefore more open about it. However, I would still say that there is a lot more to be done to make this condition better understood.

2. What Age Is Most Common For Trichotillomania?

Anyone of any age can develop trichotillomania. However, most sources state that it is most common in the first 20 years of life, though even more so in children between the ages of 9 and 13.

3. Does Trichotillomania Affect Men and Women?

Trichotillomania can affect both men and women. However, statistics say that there are more women with the condition. This does not mean to say that it is ‘unusual’ for a man to develop trichotillomania. Amongst younger children the number of girls and boys to have the condition is fairly equal.

4. Do People Stop Pulling Their Hair?

Trichotillomania is not something that you can just ‘stop doing’. So if you know anyone with trichotillomania then telling them to ‘stop pulling’ won’t help. However, there are people who have managed to stop pulling. In some cases this may happen naturally, as is common with young children who have TTM. In other cases this is down to treatment and a lot of determination and will power. Even so, there is no cure as such.

5. Other Statistics

Here is an interesting quote from Wikipedia. I know they are still doing research into this all the time:

“When genes that were suspected to cause trichotillomania were injected into laboratory mice in one study, the mice obsessively pulled out their fur and the fur of other mice in the cage. This suggests that the carrying of Trichotillomania is genetic, and may be passed down from generation to generation.”

Sources Used:

Wikipedia on Trichotillomania

Lucinda Ellery

Trichotillomania FAQ

‘Pull Free’ = Not So Pull Free

Well, the second pull free attempt didn’t work quite so well (see my article on going pull free last time). But I like to be positive here so here are some benefits of going pull free, even if you aren’t completely successful.

  1. Though you might still pull a few hairs, you will probably be more aware and pull less.
  2. Any length of time pull free, or just pulling less, is going to set you on the right road for trying again.
  3. Taking action is better than not taking action, even if you can’t meet your ultimate goals.

Of course, all of these points are easily said but not so easily felt. A failed attempt at pull free can lead to frustration and a loss of hope that we can ever go pull free.

For me, I found that when I pulled it was so subconscious I couldn’t stop myself. As soon as I pulled those hairs I realised, but before that I didn’t even notice my hand on my head. And doing something unconsciously then trying to stop is extremely annoying to say the least!

But I will try ‘pull free’ again next week. I am not feeling too bad about not being able to do it this week, as I feel that next week I’ll be better!

1 Week ‘Pull Free’

Last week I wrote about being ‘pull free’ and I decided I would try and do it again this week. This means no pulling my hair from Monday-Sunday. A week doesn’t seem long, but this is only the second time I have ever attempted it, and it was hard the first time. Whether it will be easier or not this time I don’t know – but I’ll try.

Will keep you updated on how I go. (I keep meaning to write a diary about the feelings etc. but I never seem to get round to it.)

‘Pull Free’

Have you ever heard of the term ‘pull free’? It means that you have managed to stop pulling your hair out for any length of time. Some people have been pull free for years and still continue to be, but for most of us this means not pulling a hair perhaps for a day, a week or even a month.

I made the conscious decision to be ‘pull free’ a few weeks ago, after I had been going through a bad patch. It did work, but it was a lot of effort. For a whole week I managed to stop myself by thinking ‘come on, you only have to go a week’.

Actually I did pull about two individual hairs, completely by accident when the hand movements became subsconscious – a very annoying part of having trichotillomania! But I am still proud of what I achieved, so I am still saying I was pull free for a week.

Unfortunately, after the week was over I haven’t stayed pull free. I’ve had good days and bad days. To tell you the truth I feel like I can’t be bothered to stay pull-free, because it takes concentration and it can be frustrating. But maybe I should try again next week? And if I succeed, try again the week after? I’ll see how it goes…

How long have you managed to stay pull free for? Is there anyone who wants to join me for a pull free week? If you have a story about being pull free and want to include it on this blog, along with a link about you, or even as an anonymous post – just contact me!

My Trichy Weeks

The last few weeks have been bad for pulling my hair. I have been stressed, and as many trichsters know – stress means pulling.

I find my arm constantly up on my head, stroking my hair and waiting to find hairs to pull out.

Stress is definitely a factor in trichotillomania at times, but not always. I think the problem is especially that the stress recently has made me feel tired, which will also lead me to pull. But in truth I do not usually see my trichotillomania as something caused by stress, more just a sort of ‘habit’ or ‘urge’.

Anyway, it has been bad. I have no idea how many hairs I pulled out. I know that my hair is thin around my crown, but luckily I have enough hair to stop it showing for now.

Trichotillomania Support Sites Available

Heil Shopping

If you have trichotillomania, or if your child or someone you know does, you will find that there is a wealth of support and advice online.

When I first had trichotillomania I did not know what it was. Even when I learnt what it was, I was too scared and embarrassed to force myself to think about it, let alone join a support forum.

It is only after having trichotillomania for 11 years that I decided to look for online support. Whilst my trich is physically not too bad anymore, I feel that emotionally it is important to accept trichotillomania as a part of you and to talk to others about it. I find it hard to talk to people in real life, so I talk to people online.

The forums I have joined:

Trichotillomania Support Online – This site has a wealth of information on trichotillomania as well as an active forum.
UK Trich Support Site – This site’s forum is not so active, but it provides friendly support and you will feel like part of a community here.

It is important to seek support whether you are helping someone deal with trichotillomania or dealing with it yourself.

Are you a member of any trichotillomania forums? How else do you seek support?

Does Childhood Trauma Cause Trichotillomania?

sad - triste

There are many theories behind the causes of trichotillomania, and I believe that there are different causes for different people. For me, I don’t know exactly why but having a hair braid led to me fiddling with my hair a lot, which led to me pulling.

However, psychoanalytic theories suggest that trichotillomania may be a way with dealing with childhood trauma – this could be unconscious conflicts as well as factors such as sexual abuse.This is not true for me, but could be true for others.

Here is a quick overview of the theory. To read more please see the study “Child Abuse and Trichotillomania” by A. Saraswat which you can download here. I have used this article to put together this summary.

Basic Theory

  • The factors present with development of trichotillomania in childhood are similar to those of sexual abuse.
  • This can include starting at times of stress in the family, periods of separation and developmental problems.
  • The article also quotes 86% of women with trichotillomania identifying with some sort of history of violence – this can involve between siblings, parents, or abuse by parents and others.
  • It is important to remember that not everyone with trich has been abused. Childhood trauma may include moving homes, moving schools, parents splitting up, bullying and so on.

Your Thoughts

As I have said, my experience does not show obvious childhood trauma, though I do wonder as to whether there are unconscious conflicts as mentioned above.

Do you believe that your hair pulling is caused by childhood trauma? What else may it have been caused by?