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Need A Solution (Hair Pulling) - Cat


Hi. I was shocked to read how many people are affected by this disease. I am 50 years old and have been pulling my hair out since I was around 11 years old off and on. That was the age when I first noticed my mother pulling at her hair. She says she was only pulling out a few grays but then I started pulling my hair out simply because it "felt good". I’ve been doing it off and on, hair would grow back, and then I would do it again. I have had a lot of stress in my life and it seems now the stress is back and I have been pulling it out again. I would like to know if hair stops completely growing back at some point or if it will grow back. I have several spots that I have recently pulled and feel very embarrased. I spend so much time trying to cover them up. Is there any topical medication that will assist in hair regrowth? I am seriously trying to quit but like I’ve read, it is such a challenge. Any input would be appreciated.

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Trichotillomania (hair pulling):

As long as your scalp is normal hair should grow back after you have pulled it out. However, it is always wise to check with a physician if you have any doubts or questions.

The real problem is not whether or not the hair will grow back but how to stop yourself from pulling your hair. Many people with this disorder report being unaware of the fact that they started pulling their hair. They also report that they begin pulling when they are under stress, such as college students studying for exams or paying the bill or any other situation that provokes stress reactions.

There seems to be no clear way to treat this disorder although a number of things have been tried with varying success:

1. Anti depressant medications
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
3. Yoga and deep relaxation techniques
4. Meditation to produce deep relaxation

I know of one patient who used a psychiatric service dog who was trained to stop her when she would start to pull her hair. The dog was also trained to nudge remind her to take her anti depressant medication. The combination of these things helped her to be much more aware of her hair pulling and allowed her to gain more control over it.

Best of Luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

  • pamilla

    Thank You ,

    I was so afraid when I first started to pull my hair out one strand at a time.I am OCD and I have anxiety with HAP.This has been going on for about almost three years now and I have been told by my husband to stop pulling my hair and I wasnt even aware of it.I have found that with regular caring and brushing of the hair and perhaps more maintaince then normal it has helped me to lessen the pulling.

    When I go to pull the hair out I remind myself of all the work that went into getting hair extensions and I tend not to pull on my hair.It was all I could think of doing as to not take anymore hair out and I just turned 40yrs old last week.

    I have had alot of stress in my life including in childhood. I do not have all of the answers for the issuses I have but at least I can be aware this does exist in others and has /is being studied.

    Thank You for letting me know I am not alone in this fight!!

  • Armin Nerie

    huhuhu I am also suffering from hair pulling manerism... Yes it feels great when im pulling out my hair, but suddenly i felt concious about my looks... I pull my hair everyday... I did it for about 3years, now i already stop it. And now my problem is how to fix my hair, how wil my hair grow? Im armin 17 years old, and im a girl... I need ur help

  • Rachel E

    I've had trich for 4 years now and I'm getting really tired of it. I used to have long beautiful hair but now it's short and not so great. Tonight I've been looking up on the net about how to stop and found something helpful instead of having to take meds. If anyone out there knows a healthy way to stop and has stopped pulling please email me and let me know. For others the website I was reading is Good luck, and please if you email me put trich for the subject or I may discard thinking its junk mail. thanks (

  • ishay

    i have a hair pulling manerism too and i started pulling my hair since my 5th grade then i stopped then i do it again from 2ndyear college till now.. im 18 and i need some help to stop my self from pulling my hair all over again..huhu

  • Allan N. Schwartz, Phd

    There is no easy solution to the problem of hair pulling. The reasons are many: its a bad habit, probably related to depression and/or anxiety, seems to happen automaticlly outside of awareness, especially when there is stress, such as studying in school.

    Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is good choice, possibly along with anti depressive medication and using self help relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, exercise.



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