Tricho-tillo what????? A big word with a big cause.

What is Tricholliomania?

The BIG T- Word…Most people have never even heard of it. If you ask someone what Trichotillomania is, unless you have been personally effected by it or had someone close to you be effected by it, chances are Trichotillomania is the last thing you’re thinking about when it comes to hair loss.

Hair loss and breakage from Trichotillomania – hair pulling.

Trichotillomania (pronounced trick-o-till-o-mania and often shortened to Trich) is one of many Body-Focused Repetative Behaviors (BFRB) that causes people to have an overwhelming, uncontrollable urge to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows and other body parts resulting in noticeable bald patches. Other BFRB’s include skin picking, nail chewing to the point of harm and biting lips/cheeks.

Trichotillomania (pronounced trick-o-till-o-mania and often shortened to Trich) is one of many Body-Focused Repetative Behaviors (BFRB) that causes people to have an overwhelming, uncontrollable urge to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows and other body parts resulting in noticeable bald patches. Other BFRB’s include skin picking, nail chewing to the point of harm and biting lips/cheeks.

Often times those who suffer with Trichotillomania will report a sense of stress relief when they pull or individuals can pull in an automatic manner in which they are sometimes completely unaware they are doing it at all. Although there are varying degrees to which a Trich patient pulls the hair out, many pull so much and so often that they end up pulling the hair follicles completely out leading to permanent, devastating hair loss.

Women have a greater chance of being affected than men. About 3% of the population lives with a BFRB; that’s over 10 million people in America alone, yet it often goes undiagnosed and untreated , causing shame and isolation. Symptoms tend to begin around puberty and may come and go over – lifetime, and typically require intervention. The causes of BFRB’s are not fully understood, but new evidence suggests that it is partly a neurological disorder.

How is Trichotillomania Treated?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Research supports certain forms of cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) as the best treatment for trichotillomania  along with active engagement with a therapist for help with underlying issues such as anxiety, OCD or depression. Here at Capital Region Hair Restoration we work hand in hand with local Therapist who have extensive experience with BFRB’s like Trichotillomania . 

Medications

Currently there are no medications that are approved by the FDA for treatment of trichotillomania. Medications may be useful in treating co-existing  problems such as anxiety and depression. 

There has recently been some promising new research however using N-Acetylal-Cysteine to help reduce symptoms of Trichotillomania. N-Acetylal-Cysteine  is an amino acid which can be found at nutrition stores or pharmacies. This supplement affects levels of glutamate in the brain making it easier for patients to decrease unwanted behaviors. Glutamate is a chemical that nerve cells use to send signals to other cells. Studies found 56% of the subjects experienced a significant reduction in symptoms as compared to the placebo group (those taking just a sugar pill). 

Keen Habit-Aware Band

This is exciting new technology created by a woman who suffered from Trichotillomania and it was life changing for her and for others. The Habit-Aware Band is a “smart” bracelet that looks similar to a fit-bit. You use an iOS or Android app to train Keen to look out for your specific behavior and movement such as hair pulling, twisting or tugging or eyebrow pulling. The bracelet  vibrates when your custom gesture is detected, “waking you up” and making you aware that you are hair pulling. Once aware, you can make a new choice & move your hand away. Over time, your brain is retrained away from the negative behavior. We are happy to offer these bracelets in our clinic to our patients. 

Don’t despair, There is hope! 

The earlier the urge to pull is intercepted and controlled the better the chances of growing (and keeping) your own hair will be. We have clients of varying ages visit our office to help guide them in a multi-faceted treatment plan.  Our approach includes creating a support system, providing referrals, offering resources, and providing hair follicle preservation methods. 

After the urges of hair pulling  are well under control,  Dr. Pawlinga can help restore permanent bald patches by doing a hair transplant.  At Pawlinga Medical Hair Restoration Center in Schenectady, NY, we are continually trying to raise awareness about Trichotillomania so that more and more people understand and recognize the condition to help those who are suffering  find the help needed to succeed. 

We strongly believe in catching Trichotillomania as early as possible to help control the long term chances of recovery, and for that reason we offer all children  “at cost” and/or free treatments in our clinic, because when you’re a kid, you just want to fit in and be “normal”. Growing up is tough enough without feeling like your bald patches make you different from everyone else.  We are  here to help kids be kids and help kids restore a sense of self-control &  self-esteem so they can confidently do all the things they love to do. 

So if you or a loved one is suffering from Trichotillomania give us a call today and let us help you on your journey.  

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