Teen Can’t Stop Pulling Out Her Own Hair, Leaving Bald Patches The Size Of A Hand At A Time

April 25, 2019

Mental disorders often start with seemingly quite harmless changes in behavior and gradually develop. Sometimes, neither the person, especially a child, nor the close ones perceive it as a dangerous symptom. However, some of these disorders can greatly affect quality of life.

Megan Prosser was only 8 when she began to feel an overwhelming urge to pull out her own hair. The girl started with eyelashes. She was sure that each of them would grant her a wish. Later, she explained this by saying that it was a way of controlling her body. In an involuntary attack, she could pull out so much hair as to create a bald spot the size of a hand.

The girl covers the bald patches with powder designed for concealing gray hair, various hairstyles, and headwear.

After Megan was diagnosed with trichotillomania, a form of mental disorder more common in children than in adults, she underwent therapy. Unfortunately, the treatment didn’t work, so Prosser tried shaving her head.

Trichotillomania is a disorder that is common in children and adolescents who have suffered a mental trauma or stress. Also, it affects girls more often than boys. Children have an overwhelming urge to pull out their hair with growing anxiety. These actions bring them emotional relief and are practically uncontrollable.

It is necessary to consult a doctor as soon as possible once you notice that a child’s eyelashes, eyebrows, or hair has become sparser, or if you notice bald spots of unusual shape. What exactly causes this disorder is not known for certain. It is believed that this may be a way to cope with stress or anxiety, the result of changes in hormonal levels during puberty, or a chemical imbalance in the brain. The treatment comes down to the fact that the supervising physician helps the child to change this habit.

Trichotillomania is also characterized by:

  • uncontrolled "playing" with the hair, including biting;
  • a desire to get rid of hair only of a certain texture;
  • a feeling of satisfaction or relief after having pulled out a hair;
  • repetitive behaviors – nail or skin biting, lip chewing, etc.

The risk group includes adolescents between the ages of 10 and 13, in particular, those suffering from other mental disorders, living under conditions of heightened stress, or those who have had a traumatic or frightening experience.

If trichotillomania has already manifested itself, it is likely that it will become chronic. Therefore, medical supervision and keeping a regular diary are very important. Fortunately, the chances of successful recovery are rather high: in most cases, people learn to control their habit.

Others’ attitude toward the behavior of the person affected by this disorder also plays an important role. Support is all that’s needed.

  1. Don’t ask why the person can’t stop.
  2. Don’t insist that the person see the damage.
  3. Don’t advise the person to "learn to relax."
  4. Don’t fixate on the "pulling attacks," unless the person instructed you to do so.

These intuitive reactions can only aggravate the condition and increase the level of anxiety. If it is a child who is affected, the first thing to do is to create favorable living conditions!

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.