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Need A Solution (Hair Pulling) - Cat

Question:

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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Answer:

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

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