Trichotillomania is a hair-pulling disorder. The person who suffers from trichotillomania intentionally pulls his/her hair usually from the scalp but sometimes from the other parts of the body. The causes of this disorder may be gene mutations which are responsible for several neurological disorders or problems with brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. Trichotillomania may be inherited and it affects females more than males. It usually starts during the puberty and in most cases lasts for life. Trichotillomania can be triggered by hormone changes in that age or by a traumatic event. Some emotional disorders such as depression may be followed by the hair-pulling disorder.
The symptoms of trichotillomania, besides pulling the hair, may include bald spots on the head, usually the top of the head, putting the pulled hair in the mouth and eating, playing with the pulled hair or rubbing it on the face. Some people feel great pleasure while pulling their hair. In some cases the symptoms can be so severe that a person with trichotillomania can lose or damage hair permanently or develop serious emotional problems. If the symptom of eating the pulled hair is distinct it can cause the development of hair balls in the stomach which can put your health at risk because they may lead to intestinal obstruction or vomiting.In order to treat trichotillomania, your doctor may recommend psychotherapy, biofeedback technique or medications, usually antidepressants. Some antidepressants which can be helpful are clomipramine, fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, citalopram, fluvoxamine or escitalopram. Clomipramine has given positive results in treating trichotillomania, but this medication has some side effects such as constipation, weight gain, vision problems or muscle tremors. These medications are useful in treating depression and similar disorders, but their effect on trichotillomania varies from person to person and they also may have side effects such as headache, constipation, digestive, urinary and sexual problems.
Medication Naltrexone can also be recommended in some cases of hair-pulling disorder. This medication is usually used for treating alcohol and drugs abuse, but it can help people who feel pleasure in pulling hair. Naltrexone may cause side effects such as headache, insomnia and nausea. Neuroleptic medications are used in persons who have disorders which manifest as repetitive behavior or twitches, but some studies have shown that in a number of cases these medications may be of help in treating trichotillomania. Lithium is a drug for treating bipolar disorder and other impulsive disorders but it can also help some people who are dealing with trichotillomania.