57 answers

Daughter Pulling Out Hair

Hello everyone. I have been going through a tough time with my 12yo daughter. About 3 months ago I noticed her pulling her hair out. She had hair also to her elbows and her ponytail was thicker than a quarter in diameter. Anyhow, I approached her about it and she denied it. Long story short, I had to cut it to her shoulders because it became so thin and sparse it was awful. She of coarse balled and I felt horrible but kids in middle school can be mean and I don't need her being a target for more criticism (she is also visually impaired). Last straw, yesterday I lifted up the left side of her hair and about a half dollar size spot above her ear only has about 10 strands of hair left! Her long beautiful thick blonde hair is gone! I have asked if it is stress, school, boys, friends? etc. and she says she doesn't know why or even realizes she is doing it. This condition is call Tricotelimania and I know it is a BAD HABIT but I was of course wondering if anyone else has been through this before and if there was any advice. I do NOT want to medicate my child. It is only hair and it will grow back. (We have 2 family friends with children touched with cancer and I work with cancer patients everyday and I know that it is only cosmetic.) However, it does have a lot to do with a person's self-esteem and confidence, and she already has her own battles daily with her VI. As a mother, I don't want to see her suffer. Thanks for listening!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

To those who have responded thank you. Yesterday I contacted her endocrinologist whom has ordered lab work for her thyroid and other hormone levels we have been monitoring since she was 10 months old. I am not avoiding this, she does have a medical condition that she was discharged from in September due to the fact that she has been perfect and healthy. Right after she was discharged her periods went to 3x a month and so heavy she leaked through a tampon and a pad in 1 hr. The hair pulling I figured was stress related, but I was getting concerned when I saw the bald spot, so I called her doc. Her hair is coming back in areas she pulled last month. Alopecia is when the hair falls out, so she has little spikes all over but is still pulling what is left. I will keep you updated thank you.

Featured Answers

I just wanted you to know that Tricotelimania is NOT just a bad habit. It is a serious disorder sometimes linked with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It is very difficult to treat and takes both therapy AND meds to help it. My 13yo has been battling it since 1st grade. Stress makes it worse. Good luck with everything.


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Hi L.,
I know you have had responses already, but I just wanted to add that my son's sensory integration has many implications suggested this as a later issue. We have been able to solve many of the root issues (some of which you already mentioned, but there were more). We worked with a doctor of osteopathy and a homeopath. It is amazing the changes in this type of behavior with my son. I am about to post a seminar where I am hosting both of these doctors speaking on how to solve some of these more complex issues in children. It will be March 13, 14. If you would like to see Dr. West and how she works, see www.drrachelwest.com. Homeopathy is much different treatment, and very powerful, but my homeopath does not have a website. Perhaps hearing her speak could help you know how it would assist. Email me if you would like the flyer, but I am going to try to post it as soon as it is ready.

my closest friend has had trich her whole life.
she is involved in an organization that helps others with trich. you can find them online at http://www.trich.org/
meds are NOT the way to go.
another friend's 7 year old got a lot of relief from tactile alternatives (like squishy balls with lots of rubber hairs on it to fiddle with instead of her own real hair)
good luck.

More Answers

Dear L.,

I've been on Mammasource for a LONG time and have never posted but when I read yours I HAD to. I have had trichtilomania since age 13, when my parents divorced. I don't pull my hair on my head, but I do pull out the ones that have split ends. I pull on my eyebrows and eyelashes and I don't even know I'm doing it most of the time. I have been on numerous meds and in therapy off and on my whole life. I am now a very happy married mom with one son and pray every night that he does not inherit this from me. My docs feel my trichtilomania was "triggered" by stressful events during puberty (my parents divorce) but now that I am in very consistent therapy it has improved drastically. I am 39 years old. I am a nurse at Phoenix Children's Hospital's Neonatal ICU and have always been a straight A student. In fact, I am working on my Master's Degree now and getting a 4.0 GPA. I still struggle with Trichtilomania though! It is something that needs early intervention (which I did NOT get) and can be stopped with "behavioral modificiation".......she needs something else to do with her hands when she has scary/bad thoughts, goes through a tough day at school, etc.........those trigger it.....the National Institute of Health has great info on it too. I think it's NIH.gov but PLEASE know I would be more than happy to talk to you further and give you more details or even talk to your daughter because I understand what she "feels" when it happens. It's like you are not aware you are doing it until you are 1/2 way done.......anyways, I could ramble all day.....


7 moms found this helpful

I just wanted you to know that Tricotelimania is NOT just a bad habit. It is a serious disorder sometimes linked with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It is very difficult to treat and takes both therapy AND meds to help it. My 13yo has been battling it since 1st grade. Stress makes it worse. Good luck with everything.


2 moms found this helpful

Wow! You've got a lot going on! It is wonderful that you are doing so much to help your daughter rather than waiting for it to go away like some people do.

When you have her blood tests done, (maybe you've already done that now?) be sure to ask them to test her B12. It is not usually part of the standard bloodword which is unfortunate because many people are low in it and it can cause many symptoms that get written off as something else. Read about it online. Here is one article to get you started.


Heavy periods are one of the symptoms as are anxiety, constipation, numbness and tingling, irritablity, fatigue and hair loss (I realize she is pulling hers but I just wanted you to know.)
Low B12 can be a symptom of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Another thing you'll need to look up!
I had tons of symptoms of low B12 and gluten intolerance for YEARS, since I was a child, but the doctors never put them all together. A functional nurtritionist was finally able to diagnose me and I am so happy to feel healthy.

It is genetic. Look up the symptoms and conditions associated with celiac and if your daughter or anyone in her bloodline has them, she should be checked. They can include diarrhea or constipation, gas/bloating or any digestive disorders, canker sores, anemia, osteoperosis, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid conditions, diabetes, ANY autoimmune disorders, cancer (especially digestive cancers)chronic pain, headaches, food allergies, lactose intolerance...There are lots!

ANXIETY and irritablity are very common in children with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Here's a place to start. Good information.

Food allergies and intolerances are found to be responsible for many conditions that doctors can't seem to figure out. It is quite simple that foods we put in our bodies determine how it runs, just like cars. Sometimes it is important to take cartain foods OUT rather than keep adding more and more in. Doctors refuse to acknowledge this sometimes which is strange to me. If we are diabetic we have to limit or remove sugar and carbs so why is it so hard to believe that other conditions can be controlled (not necessarily cured) by removing different foods?

Take care! Contact me if you want to know more.


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Hi L.,
I am curious if you have considered the health effects associated with electro-magnetic frequencies (cell phones, Cordless phones, Wireless Internet) as a possible cause?
I work in this industry and thought it could be a part of the problem. I can help you learn about this if you are interested. Kindly,
Laine Weinstein

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.--I just wanted to echo what a couple of smart/experienced people already said--it is HIGHLY likely that your daughter has trichotillomania, which is thought to be a form of OCD. The best source for info and support is www.tlc.org. You can order a video from them, I think it was $15, that is VERY informative and helpful. Go ahead and look for hormonal imbalances and such but please contact the TLC office also. The more support and understanding you can offer your daughter at this age, the better.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,

I missed your original request. Sorry, I just read it this morning. I strongly suggest that you log onto site NAET.com. When things like this happen it is a clear indication of symptoms of food allergies. Yes food allergies. NAET.com are a group of allergists around the world who treat and eliminate allergies. They are the only doctors in the world who Elimiate allergies. If food allergies go untreated they can lead to mental illness as well as physical illnesses.

I am 37 years old and have had severe allergies my entire life. I am currenlty being treated once a week by an NAET allergist in my area. And allergy elimination are happening.

I am also completing my degree in Nutrition Science, and I can answer your questions.

NAET.com has a doctor locator where you can find an NAET doctor close to your home for testing.

any questions, my email - ____@____.com

Be Well.


1 mom found this helpful

My heart goes out to you and your daughter. I also had this problem for many years. I thought it was stress or OCD. But when I started taking Shaklee vitamins after awhile, I realized I was not doing it anymore. I believe it was the calcium magnesium that helped. My periods were also regulated and shortened.
You can check the vitamins out at http://www.shaklee.net/healthforlife
Hope you find a solution.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.. I know Tricotelimania well, as I work with children and adults to heal this habit. Actually, it is an anxiety disorder---a manifestation of stress, and is more common among children than most people realize. Wherever you live, I suggest you find an experienced hypnotherapist to deal with the problem efficiently. Drugs are not necessary.

Best wishes,
R. Conte
Clincial Hypnotist/Hypnotherapist
Stress Management Expert

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 16 year old daughter when she was 14 she started pulling out her hair, when I asked her why she did this her response was anger. She has gotten over the hair pulling, but still has alot of anger.

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hey -- i know you already got lots of responses, but thought i would let you know my experience. i have been a puller since about 6th grade. imagine being that age with no eyelashes!! i hid it from everyone, lied about my hair loss, and was ashamed for decades. finally, 1 year ago i told my boyfriend of 8 years (clueless, b/c i only pull small amounts) and it was such a relief to talk to him about it. what i asked him to do was to notice my behavior and not ridicule or get mad at me, but to gently hold my hands in his, look me in the eyes, and tell me "you dont need to do this" i have also thought of an incentive program for myself -- a piece of jewelry for example, a special gift to myself for treating myself well. i have not tried it. i also have not won the battle, but i do manage it. i do not pull so much to have bald spots, i can control myself. but for a younger person it gets really hard. i would really recommend you keeping up on this with your daughter. it is definitely anxiety related, it distracts me when i am stressed. can she transition with another "soothie" kind of like a baby with a worry stone or something? you could buy her a bracelet that she can rub instead. it is such a shameful affliction, please just support her through it. i decided to talk to my boyfriend after one of the most beautiful women i know told me nonchalantly she has trichotillomania. it was so nice to see her not hide it. good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow. this was an interesting post. My daughter, now 13, ussed to pull out the hair in her eyebrows. I didn't know it at first, then as I looked at her, I noticed her eyebrows were jagged and bald in areas. when I asked her about it, she said she didn't realize she was doing it! I gave her a hug, a pep talk, told her she didn't have to do that to herself, etc and she soon stopped. I don't know if it was a phase, stress or what, but thankfully she doesn't do it anymore.
My younger daughter had a bad habit of pulling string out of her shirts. She has always done this! I think it's a comforting habit, when she was breast feeding she would get her fingers wrapped in her blanket and tug while nursing. When we would pick her up she would always try and get her fingers wrapped in the hem of your sleeve and begin to tear away at the thread. It has continued,I can't pass down any of her clothes because they all have "fringe" hanging from all of the loose threads! She's almost 8 and I recently noticed that she doesn't do it as much, I touch her hand if I see her doing it. It's more prominent when she's really tired, and she also sucks her tongue between her teeth, always did since birth. It's hard to stop a child from sucking their own tongue, we can sometimes break the habit of the thumb. Hopefully you will get the answers you needed, this really helped me because I wasn't even aware it had a name. thanks for posting!

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Hi L.,
If this is Trichotillomania make sure first by leaving the doors open and checking up on her to see if she is actually pulling.
My daughter is 7 now and at 4 she went through that with the eye lashes. No medication is necessary we used a self help book if you want to know more about it let me know and I can get you all the information.
Stress does aggravate this, it's mostly with obsessive compulsive individuals.
Take care

1 mom found this helpful

Dear L.,
I don't know how I missed this post; I read them all the time and am always particularly interested when come across a child who is visually impaired. I am blind and have worked in the field of blindness and visual impairment for probably 35 years. I work for the Hadley School for the Blind
as an instructor, and we have some courses for family members of blind children that you might like to check out. Also, there will be a seminar in April here in Chicago for parents of blind children; I can get you more info if you'd like. Your daughter and your family have some tough times, and I'm sorry she is struggling so much. If you would like to contact me off list, please feel free to do so at
and let me know if you would like the parents seminar flyer.
By the way, I have been blind all of my life, am now divorced and have two adult sighted sons, not to mention a very full and busy life.

1 mom found this helpful

I also missed your original post. I have been waiting for someone to post about this problem. My 8yo daughter recently started pulling her eyelashes and eyebrows out. When it started I was devastated. I have done some research online and my pediatrician referred us to a pediatric psychologist. (We have our 1st appt. in 2 weeks).

I don't nag her about it because I'm afraid of hurting her and lowering her self-esteem. It kills me everytime I look at her. I'm guessing it's stress related but she is unable to really verbalize any one thing bothering her. I'm hoping the psychologist can help figure out what is causing her anxiety and how we can stop this behavior, although from what I read it may be a lifelong issue. I absolutely won't put her on medication. I will investigate food allergies/food additives because I believe eating the right things could only help.

I will save all of this and hope to keep in touch w/you and others in this situation. It's all new to me and I know we all want to help our daughters.

1 mom found this helpful

I am so sorry that you have to go through such an ordeal. When it comes to our children, our world changes as we see them going through such things. I hope you have her hormone levels checked and if it is that, there is a natural hormone balancing cream that will work wonders - don't let them put her any synthetics! I can provide you information regarding this bio-identical hormone balancing cream if you would like. Also, there is a natural product that helps stimulate the hair follicles to start growing. Not that your daughter's wouldn't grow back, but this product helps naturally occuring baldness! It couldn't hurt to help promote the regrowth faster.

I use natural and botanically based products and if you wish to learn more about them, I would be more than happy to help. This site is amazing as I too had very difficult issue with my son who was 9 at the time. My world was consumed and I hope that the stresses aren't getting to you as well. With you working, as I am, and having 3 kids, like me, it's a full plate and it does take its toll on you as well. I'd be happy to help you out L.. Looking forward to hearing about the results! May the Lord give you strength and hope. Here's to your health!

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I agree with the other posters that it sounds like TTM. The Trichotillomania Learning Center is a great resource, and can help you find experienced clinicians in your area. If no one on the list is in your area, also check out the www.aabt.org, the Association for the Advancement of Behavioral Therapy. TTM needs to be addressed by behavioral treatments, not just "standard" psychotherapy.

Some strategies that can be helpful include keeping her hair unavailable (ie, in braids like someone suggested) or keeping her hands such that she can't pull (ie, wearing mittens while watching TV). Noticing the behavior and being aware of WHEN she is doing it will go a long way ot helping her resolve the problem if she is willing to do so at this time.

There is also an online program that your daughter might benefit from - www.stoppulling.com.

Good luck.

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I have a neice who has the same condition,Tricotelimania. She started this when she about 11 or 12 as well. She is now 28 and still suffers from this. I have been told that there is not a cure for it. My neice pulls out the hair from the top of her head and it seems that when she is more stressed, the more she pulls. She used to also pull out her eye lashes. She doesn't realize when she is doing it. Usually when she goes to bed. She was never on medication for it, and I didn't know that there even was medication. I thought it was a pyshological dissorder. She has wonderful husband and 2 little ones of her now and is doing great. She did have a bit of a tough time in middle and high school, she started to tell kids that she had cancer. So that was something my sister and her had work out. She was able to have some good friends in school who stuck by her though. Good luck with your daughter, she will get through this, and can have a normal teen experience. I wish you all the best.

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I work in the field of psychiatry and I would like to advise you to seek out help for your daughter. What works best for such types of disorders (some say obsessive compulsive and some say impulse control disorders) is a combination of verbal therapy and medication. Stress is considered a trigger for "outbursts" of this disorder and she may not be able to control herself. I think it is a great idea to rule out anything medical as well. All of us can benefit from verbal therapy. Hope this helps!

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I have a nine year old daughter that has developed trichotillomania within the past year. She concentrates more on eyebrows, eyelashes and arm and leg hair rather than head hair, however. We have read many books, tried many things, and nothing seems to be the silver bullet. She was already taking medication for an anxiety disorder. The doctor increased her dosage, but we haven't really noticed a change in the pulling. Please understand that this is not a bad habit. It is the manifestation of an illness. One of the things that was stressed to us is to lovingly redirect in a subtle way, but that the child should not be made to feel bad about the behavior - so no scolding, negative consequences, etc. We have done the many suggested items of other ways to keep your hands busy that I'm sure you've read about through various resourcs. One new thing we learned from our doctor was when our daughter is feeling the urge to pull, give her a small baggie of ice cubes. She should then hold the baggie until the ice melts. Apparently there is some new research out that people are having some success with this technique. I feel for you and your daughter. This is a very frustrating issue to manage. For whatever reason, the hair pulling is a soothing/comforting technique, so it's hard to stop. Wish there were more I could tell you.

I had a boyfriend with Trichotillomania. I would kick him under the table gently if ever we were in public and I noticed him triching. I have to tell you that he was (and still is) the sweetest, kindest, most grounded person I know. He just has this odd tick... and generally he has no idea that he is doing it when it's happening. I think it is probably impossible to stop, but of course, bring it to her attention when you can. At her age, life is full of stressors. Poor girl. I hope her other hormonal issues settle down. Perhaps it will calm her triching once the hormones level out in a few years. Probably you should let her read up about her condition on the net, so she knows that she is not alone. Best of luck!

This is ironic, but I posted a similar request a few months ago concerning my 11 yr. old daughter! I feel your pain! I'd like to know how things go for you guys because we haven't gotten anywhere with her hair pulling. I feel awful when I tell her to stop and she gets mad. Keeping her "busy" just makes her more anxious which causes more hair pulling. I'm seriously considering therapy/meds for her if it continues much longer. Middle school is NOT a fun age for anyone, much less for one who has hair pulling issues. Please repost with your progress! I'd love to hear of your success!

I know you've already gotten plenty of advice, and I don't have any to offer, but I just wanted to let you know that my heart goes out to you. As a mother, it breaks my heart when my children are sad, or teased, or are sick. I can only imagine what you're going through.
You sound like a fabulous mother. You're in my prayers.

my closest friend has had trich her whole life.
she is involved in an organization that helps others with trich. you can find them online at http://www.trich.org/
meds are NOT the way to go.
another friend's 7 year old got a lot of relief from tactile alternatives (like squishy balls with lots of rubber hairs on it to fiddle with instead of her own real hair)
good luck.

yes, a girl that i tutor has the same situation. she has also pulled out her eyelid and brow hair. there's a group out there specifically for this. i would think that if you google it, you can find support. the group is not support groups, it's about living with and handling the disease.
good luck.

It sounds like it could be nerves. It is subconcious just like biting nails, etc. Why not try putting her hair in a braid or ponytail which will make it more difficult to pull out? I feel so bad for the both of you. You must be worried and she must feel horrible. It may just be a temporary stage she is going through. 12 is a tough age. I also have a 12 year old daughter that is going through some weight gain due to hormones and she is distraught about it. I just try to be supportive and tell her that she is not alone. 12 was the worst age for me. It's just a transition stage and things will get back to normal. Good luck! :)

This may be way off base with the things you have mentioned but if she's having period issues and hormone issues along with possible depression and other odd habits I would see after her hormone levels are tested to see about having an ultrasound done of her ovaries. The reason I suggest this is that she may have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I kind've doubt it. But it may explain the hormone irregularity and period problems. It's also called PCOS

I really don't have much more to add after reading all the responses. I do have to say that if your daughter is ingesting the hair (as some people with trich do), it can have life-threatening consequences, so you have to get help for her. Also, it may be hard to avoid medication for this at her age.

My 5 year old daughter had trich since she was 15 months old. Lucky for us, she pulled her hair in conjunction with sucking her thumb. About 3 months ago, we taped up her thumb to encourage her not to suck it. It worked! She stopped sucking her thumb and pulling her hair. (we didn't mention the hair pulling to her, just told her that she was a big girl now and it was time to cut out the thumb sucking). I am scared to death that it'll start up again when she's older (especially during the adolescence).

good luck!

I'm the friend Susan D. wrote about. After 37 years of pulling out my hair I've learned a few things. Finding the reason and solution is only part of the problem. I found that keeping my hair very short deters the pulling. When I "have a pulling session" and reilize the damage I've done the frustration and self-loathing is unbarable. This emotion, ironicly, makes me pull more. You'll want to help her cover the bald spots as they change from one area to another. I own about 25 hats & 6 wigs. I found the products Toppik & Couvre to be helpful in covering the spots ~ not a perfect solution but they help. www.toppik.com Also, Hair Club for Men will help kids with cancer and tric at no cost. Again, they don't have any other answers expect to cover the spots. Ask her teacher for permission to wear hats/scarves in school. Explain what's happening and ask them not to nag or bring it to the attention of anyone else. (my 4th grade teacher would make me sweep up my hair around my desk in front of the class at the end of each day ~ what a witch)
Please don't nag her, this will only add more stress to her life ~ if she pulls in front of you simply touch her hand to let her know she's doing it. When she tells you she doesn't reilize she's pulling and can't control it BELIEVE HER. Many people in my life will nag and say, "Just don't touch your hair" Duh! If it were that easy would I be living though this? Be her support and confidant not another reason to pull. My parents were my safe haven regarding this when I was a kid.
Please feel free to contact me. I'd love to give you as much information or support as I can.
Vicki C.

Its not just hair. If you don't get her professional help it will never go away. It will always be something if not the hair. Take this seriously and ask for help. Not sure why there would be a leap to medication, but until you know more, don't try to be the doctor. I have personal experience with this and I beg you to get her help.

I have a daughter who has pulled and ingested (trichophagia) since she was a baby, now 16. Is she just a hair puller, or does she chew on pencils, erasers, fingernails? Does she put the hair in her mouth,or mouth anything else? Does she have allergies,skin sensitivities, hyperactive? Any problems in school? There's alot of good responses, sensory issues, obsessive compulsive behavior, anxiety. You mentioned that your daughter has visual impairment, possible hormonal issues. By noting everything else that she does, even though it seems unimportant, can explain the bigger picture and how to treat it.
Tell her she needs to be a detective and keep track of when she pulls(during tests, certain classes, at home watching tv, etc). Find out if she's putting it in her mouth--very important!Keep an eye on her bowel movements/where you can see if she's ingesting.
This is only a 'bandaid type' help, but get permission at the school for her to chew gum during class(this helps with sensory issues), wear a rubber band on her wrist, have her snap the band whenever she has the urge to pull. There's also research being done on 'fish oil' helping obsessive compulsive behaviors, but you have to be careful on the quality, mercury will make matters worse.And before you start giving her anything, you need to know if this is her only problem. We've been to every dr, homeopath, specialists, naturopaths, psychiatrists,had every test possible, since she was a baby. Medications are just like the bandaids,and can cause more damage. Please, email me and maybe I can help. ____@____.com


A thought would be to video tape her when she is at home and pulling her hair out of habit. Sometimes seeing yourself doing a bad habit can remind you not to do it in the future.

Another thought, could she be having sensory issues? Your daughter might be under-stimulated and pulling her hair satisfies one of her body's needs. You might want to consider doing the following with her to redirect her actions to something less self-destructive and more appropriate:

1st do some movement (vestibular) tasks – getting head moving in multiple directions.
controlled swinging – 4x forward and back,
4x left to right, 4x diagonal each way,
4x in circle/one way then other way.
10 jumps in place
10 trunk rotations
5 toe touches
Forward and back on exercise ball
Bounce on exercise ball
Bounce on small trampoline

Choose 4 to 5 of the following activities
Heavy work tasks/Proprioception – “Stabilizes” nervous system.
Push heavy box
Carry heavy box
Animal walks ie: bear or crab or hopping
Simon says
Commando crawl
1-2 lb. dumbbell – 10 bicep curls, 10 arm raises
starting w/hands on shoulders
Wall slides until knees are at a 90 degree angle- 10
Wall push ups – 10
Wheelbarrow walk
Pressure strokes on back, shoulder
Jump on small trampoline (hold students hands) child
jumps awhile so child tires
Walk –especially up/down stairs

Calming Activities
Blanket roll up – head and arms outside blanket
Ball rolled on body
Squish child’s body gently between two pillows (head and
arms outside of blanket)
Linear swinging – at least one minute

There are also a number of books available that help parents to understand sensory issues. One is "The Out-of-Sync Child" by Carol Stock Kranowitz and Lucy Jane Miller. The other is "The Sensory-Sensitive Child" by Karen A. Smith and Karen R. Gouze.

Through my reading I have learned that it is not uncommon for children who have developmental, behavioral, or physical challenges to also have sensory problems.

I hope the above suggestions help.

Good luck!


Tricotelimania is an anxiety related condition, something people do to soothe, and not just a bad habit! Even if she is unable to verbalize to you what is going on based on your brief description I would talk to her doctors about anxiety and see if they might be able to refer you to someone who specializes in childhood anxiety conditions.

I am absolutely no advocate of medicating kids either. Or adults for that matter. UNLESS there's a real need for it. I may be looking at it myself.

It really sounds like there's an obsessive/compulsive disorder here. Better to get some professional help on it and keep it controlled. To do nothing sets the stage for it to continue, which in turn would garner those nasty middle school remarks that can do self esteem damage. So have the situation evaluated, get it under control, and do whatever else possible to boost that self esteem (without it going to extremes of course)

She may have a fungal condition. A good site for help is: Knowthecause.com Dietary changes are in order. Remove sugar and processed carbohydrates (which feed fungus)from her diet. It will be difficult as it is an addiction!
Removing fungus is vital as fungus is behind ALL disease such as diabetes and cancer. Something else--get her (and rest of family) on probioticsl- yogurt, acidophulis. GNC has chewable that is very tasty.
God bless and good luck,

Hi L.,

My Name is C. and I have a 5 year daughter with Trichotillomania. What Kathryn and Heidi are telling you is all great info about this problem. I'm finding that this is actually a lot more commom problem that I first thought, it's just that no one really talked about it. It can also become a HUGE self-esteem issue. For my daughter, the hair pulling started at 2 1/2 years old, right after we took away the pacifer. (More commonly this disorder is found in early adolesence.) I have been from dr. to dr. and finally once diagnosed, started counseling, which hasn't cured the problem but has shown us some cognitive behavioral methods which we have had some success with. I'm sure each individual differs but the pattern that I've found is that for her it seems to come in about 6 month intervals when it gets worse. As long as we keep her hair on the short side, it doesn't tempt her to pull as much. It was very difficult to find a dr. or counselor who has had much experience with Trich. The best information that I have found and also what the dr. and couselor were using is www.TLC.org I can't say enough about everything I've learned. I became a member, and received a tremendous amount of information from them. I hope you can check it out. If there are any other questions that I could answer for you, please feel free to contact me!

C., Pt. Huron, MI

I know you received replies already, but I do have a few suggestions. Have your daughter tested for Von Wilderbrand's Disease(bleeding disorder like hemophilia). This condition in females can cause hemorrage like bleeding during menstrual periods. My 2 brothers carry it and have trouble when they are cut or have surgeries. I am a carrier of the gene and it only exhibited itself during my periods which were awful and I hemorraged some while giving birth. Doctors do not normally test for this, it is not a common condition.
As for her hair pulling, please be aware that constantly pulling her hair out WILL cause that area to go bald. I worked with a guy who did it since he was a child, still continues and has 3 blad spots on the side of his head and behind his right ear. I would not consider it a BAD HABIT unless she has been doing it for years. Your letter made it seem like it was something that started recently or in the last year. She made need psycological help in stopping this behavior. In the mean time, keep an eye on her and try distracting her when you see her going at it. Eventually this may help "train" her to avoid the behavior.

I was just wondering...is she for sure PULLING it out? or is it FALLING out?
if it's falling out, it could be a number of health conditions, hormones imbalances especially, and at her age of 12, that might fit?

Hi L.,

I too had a son that was not hair pulling, but head picking a dry spot. He continue this until he had balled spot. He had resently been put on newer ritalin med type med. I can't remember the name, but it started with a Z. He also got very OCD on this. So I would ask if she has been on any new medications.

Does she have a thyroid condition??? I have a condition that makes my skin tingle, and my head iches and tingles. Thyroid is tricky. She might have some symptoms of the condition that are not always recognized as thyroid symptomology. My hair is very thin and my head isces all of the time some one looking at me might think I had lice because I scratch my head and my hair falls out easily. Especially if my meds are not right. Her periods seem to be classical for thyroid disease. My thyroid condition threw me into early menopause. And I now have what is called environmental allergies. And I am chemically sensitive. May be you should get a new specialist or try some kelp with prenatal vitamins that might help to strengthen her immune system so she does not display the systems. She might not be pulling out her hair and if she is then it is a response to the tingling on her head.

You have every right to be very concerned. My education is in psychology. Your daughters behaviors closely resemble something called Trichotillomania. It is a type of impulse disorder and a form of self injury-its main characteristic is pulling out hair. It is actually classified in the DSM IV. No one knows if it is a habit, addiction, compulsive disorder, tic...There is evidence there is actually a gene for this disoder. If this is what she has it is not her fault or in her control. It oftentimes does start when a child is around 12 or early teens. Stress is sometimes a trigger. There is help and IF this is what your daugther has she will not conquer it herself. Many professionals can treat with medication and Habit Reversal Training. Your concern is well justified. Seek some professional help (psychiatrist is prefered as they can prescribe meds if needed) If you have any questions you can contact me.

Hello L.,

I see you have had a lot of responses to your inquiry. I read through about half of them, but did not see anyone suggest that your daughter may be suffering from Tourette's Syndrome. My sister was diagnosed with a mild case of Tourette's back in the 70's when she was 13. Unfortunately, little was known about the syndrome back then and she went to several doctors before she was diagnosed. We believe her symptoms started when she was about eight years old. Hair pulling was one of her 'tics' and she pulled out all of her eyelashes when she was about your daughter's age. These days there is a lot more information on Tourette's. This was the first thing that came to my mind when I read your request. Good luck in your search to find out what may be the problem.


Hi L.,

It seems like there is something bothering your daughter. You may want to seek some counseling with a professional who specializes in kids. Sometimes they can get at problems more easily then the parents. My sister is a child counselor, I can ask her if she knows any good clinicians in your area. Private message me if you would like me to inquire for you.

One of my best friends has suffered with this since she was 9. Her sister died at this time and they believe it was the trigger. According to her it is a lack of seretonin that causes it. She has mentioned that there are support groups where you can go and people talk about what kinds of things worked and didn't. She has taken antidepressants (seretonin based) on and off. Sometimes they help for a while, but stress seems to override it. There are books in the libraty about increasing seretonin naturally. I will ask my friend this morning if she recommends anything else.


Ok- this problem can be FIXED. Hair pulling, thining eyelashes, and even rosacea and cystic acne is caused by the demodex mite. Everyone has a level of skin mites but they become unbalanced and overgrow in certain individuals who have a respressed immune system, usually due to the spirochette bacteria: Borrelia burgdorferi.(can be transmitted my fleas, mosquitos, mites, tics)

The same mite overgrowth can happen in animals- they call it mange and the animals will pick because it bothers them at some level, they end up loosing patches of hair. Prime cause is due to a flea bite - with the flea transmitting a similar L form bacteria called bartonella or Borellia b. into the blood and immune system of the animal.

A way to rid of the demodex is to use the same solution that you would use for skin mites and lice (permethrin)
use over entire body on first day in shower, let stand as per directions, then rinse. Change all bedding and cases, use mites guard pillow cases. treat matresses. Clean all jackets, boil hair brushes and accessories. Then use once a week on hair and around ears, cheeks, and chest (the mites likes the sun exposed parts - it thrives on vit D)

Treat the eyelashes nightly or minimum once a week ( I think the life cycle is 14 days but doublecheck that) with a mixture of equal parts tea tree oil and macadamia nut oil, OR... 2 t borax in 2 t coconut oil. If you are a contact lense weraer make sure this is rinsed out thouroughly in the morning. Tea tree oil will melt contacts and borax crystals can hurt when stuck under a contact.

A stress situation contributes greatly to the "activity" of the mite, hense the greater urge to pull or scratch.

Healing from the repressed immune system is the ultimate goal. These immune system "hiding" bacteria can be killed off with tetracyclines (that's why tetracylines work for cystic acne)and herbal remdies like cumanda and samento.

There is a test for the Borrelia bacteria. it used to be called QRIB-b , it is now called The Flow Cytometry Test, and only one lab in America that tests for it under the scope - Central Florida Research - 1-###-###-####.

Here's more info:





you can further help her with diet:
Eliminate vit D
(use watered down cream or half and half in place of milk)

I know you wrote this a while back....pulling hair out in a child can mean they are suffereing from anxiety. The child does not even know they are doing it. Yes, medication can help, but it sounds like you do not want to do meds. Maybe meditation or herbal teas?

I am a teacher and have had a student go down this path and after a couple different tries with meds they found one that solved the anxiety without changing his personality.

I wish the best for you and your family!

Hi L.,
I just read your post and am very emphathetic toward you and your daughters issues. I am a hair puller and have been for several years. I consider it an addiction at this point and am getting help for it through a program I discovered after trying a million things to stop it. Please check out this website at: www.pullfreeatlast.com, there's a section for parents who have children that pull hair and it explains what may be going on and how to help your daughter resolve the problem.
I wish the best for both of you-

Sorry to hear about this, but it more common than you think. I started pulling out my eyelashes when I was 13 and have rarely been able to control it. Some people outgrow it, but for many it's a permanent condition. I attended a conference for "trichsters" and the meeting room was filled with mostly beautiful young women, but also some older people, and some men with it too. If your daughter doesn't stop, at least know that there are support groups and that she's not the only one going through it! I've worn fake eyelashes since I was in high school, and had eyeliner tattooed on, but have never been able to stop pulling my eyelashes, weird as it sounds. I don't realize I do it, it's something I do when I'm concentrating (reading, studying, etc). There's a GREAT website called "stoppulling.com", it's a lot of work but it was effective for me when I was on it. I probably need to rejoin that site but mostly I'm OK with the condition and accept myself without eyelashes so I'm not too bothered anymore. However, your daughter's case might be more extreme, and bald heads are harder to hide than bald eyes! Good luck!!!

Hi L.,

I am 54...I have had the same problem (which started in 8th grade...i was always very embarassed by it...in those days, you never spoke to your parents about it....anyway, about 10 years ago, i went to a psychiatrist and am taking celexa (anti-anxiety) which has helped alot...it is a seriously compulsive disorder which one never really gets rid of.

Now to the worst part, about a year ago, my 15 year old daughter started tearing her hair out. it began just a nervous habit of twirling her hair but, as you did, we just had her hair cut short and she absolutely hates it....she is seeing a psychiatrist for severe anger issues and is taking a trial combination of wellbutrin and lamictal. it has only been two weeks and i don't see a difference yet but we have a follow up in 2 weeks.

At least you know what this condition is called...when i was a teen and even into my 20's, i always had a bald spot on top of my head...i was so embarassed but it wouldn't stop me...i finally read an article in a magazine which gave this horrible condition a name and said it needs to be treated by meds....so, i would definitely give it a try...it is more serious than you think.... good luck

Just another thought... down the line if you find you haven't gotten anywhere with traditional doctors, I have gotten more help for my personal issues from seeing a Naturopathic Physician for 7 months than I have in a life time of seeing MDs. I had never even really heard of them before, but they have a whole world of natural cures (not drugs that treat symptoms) and lifestyle changes that really work, and aren't drugs. You would want a bona fide one that has been to 4 years of Naturopathic Medical school. You can find on at http://naturopathic.org/. Good luck to you both!

Kathryn J is right. This sounds like Trichotillomania. I am 38 and have suffered from this since I was about 9. My daughter also started when she was 10. It is triggered quite often by the hormone level changes, but not always. There is very little that can be done other than educating yourself since very few professionals know anything about it. It is not that common. It is extremely embarrassing to tell someone that you are aware you are doing it so she may not admit this to you. My daughter was able to open up to me since I also suffer from this so I was able to talk to her about it from someone who understands. I did take her to a therapist who after 3 visits admitted I understand what to do more than she does. There is a wonderful Yahoo group dedicated to this, just do a search. If you would like to contact me and discuss this more, please email me.

Hi L.,

I know you have gotten many replies to your post and have lots of good advice. I just wanted to add one more thing. Although I don't have the disorder that your daughter does, I do have bipolar disorder, and was diagnosed when I was about 11 years old. I was put on medication. It was such a relief for me, the medication really improved my quality of life. I quit taking my medication later in my teenage years, and was subsequently super mentally unhealthy until I went back on my medication last April. Anyhow, my main point is that medication is not necessarily a bad way to go for a child, if it is really warranted, and you have a doctor whom you trust. Even though with mental illnesses/hormone disorders it may take a while to find the right medication and the right dose, I think that it is really worth it if there is a chance to improve quality of life. I also am hypothyroid and am on medication for that, which also makes a world of difference.

Hi L.,

I am a cosmetologist also and a wellness consultant. I read your email for the first time and could feel what you are going through.

I want to know if you would like to talk so I may see what is going on with your daughter so we may work together to address her problems now so she will not grow up with them.

I have been working with a team of doctors that are looking at Eastern methods as a tool to get the body back in balance so we do not experience all these symptoms.

I am concerned with our children today because we are at war with our environment and it is effecting our children.

Please let me know if you would like to talk. Are you in the bay area?

Have a great day.

N. Marie

Hi L., sence she uses her hands to pull the hair out, I would try things to keep her hands busy. Hobbie, nitting, sewing, clay, stress ball, even mabie a fall, small hair piece to pull. The resurch you have done is great, and I hope you are right, however, 20 yr of doing hair I have never seen the hair grow back, stress alapicia. Once pulled out the hair sometimes does not grow again. Like I said I hope I am wrong. Best of luck with your daughter.

You say it is only hair and it will grow back -- but that is if she stops. And hair is very important. Usually, as with any compulsion, it is VERY hard for them to stop. I once knew a woman with this condition, and she would try to hide it, but it was obvious. After a long time of hair pulling, the hair in the spot she would pull was a different texture, dark and coarse, and did not grow properly.

The longer a compulsion goes on, the harder it is to stop. If it were me I would immediately get my daughter on some kind of medication that works for obsessive compulsions. This may take a few tries, as every drug works differently on different individuals. Don't wait, or she may ruin her hair for ever.

Hi L.,
I know you have had responses already, but I just wanted to add that my son's sensory integration has many implications suggested this as a later issue. We have been able to solve many of the root issues (some of which you already mentioned, but there were more). We worked with a doctor of osteopathy and a homeopath. It is amazing the changes in this type of behavior with my son. I am about to post a seminar where I am hosting both of these doctors speaking on how to solve some of these more complex issues in children. It will be March 13, 14. If you would like to see Dr. West and how she works, see www.drrachelwest.com. Homeopathy is much different treatment, and very powerful, but my homeopath does not have a website. Perhaps hearing her speak could help you know how it would assist. Email me if you would like the flyer, but I am going to try to post it as soon as it is ready.

Did you have her hormonal levels checked and any other nutritional deficiencies checked through hair analysis. Also you may even ask your hair stylist if she has ever encountered this. I would think it is pretty "normal" in that it is not completely unheard of. I personally play in my hair alot and at some times it actually falls out pretty easy and would come out in clumps. When I had a hair analysis done we discovered I was very low in some things and extremely high in others and treated myself with better nutrition and supplements. High in Nitrates and sodium...low in b vitamins and such. I went onto a low carb diet and cut out all the "fun foods" :O) , chips, sodas , starchy pasta/potatoes, etc. Lost weight and hair got better too, who could ask for more? ....

You may look into what some Holistic physicians can offer in your area. They tend to also treat the "whole" person, and discover what is the underlying issues with her innerlife that she is not able to express. Most habits like this are esteem issues, which is what it can be with myself I know. Esteem gone wrong that is. "Control". Feeling helpless or lonely, or just bored.

Plus with my own girls I know it does them good to be more active and have more one on one time with me when bad habits like small issues/ nail biting and hair twisting, biting pencils or that sort of thing.

As per this issue of hair pulling specifically....
I have a girlfriend who does this with her hair or has done it. She confided that she will begin by sucking on her long strands of hair and then pull it out strand by strand and bite the little strands into pieces, and that it actually "feels cool" on her teeth.Especially right out of the shower when it is squeaky clean/wet, or late at night when it has been a long day... or during the day just bored and watching TV. When she is busy, she does not do this behavior and really she says that it only comes about when she is feeling unsupported or over controlled. It's "her" littledeal with herself. Maybe it occurs once every couple of years now....She is a normal adult and a wife/mother today and leads a normal life. It started in college I guess for her. She is now able to see that it is a distructive behavior and quite silly to most people. Self comforting like some people use food or alcohol, or any other coping issues. Usually too, she says there is like a favorite "spot" of her head that just felt better coming out, and then too there was usually a specific "spot" in the house where she would sit and it just lent itself to the position in which to pull from / resting of her arms and such... So although "I" am not a doctor, I would think she may need "more of you" in a very uncontrolled way.Or some help in providing self coping ways that are less distructive and harmful to herself. Help her to discover when she does it and describe how she is feeling ...Maybe journal writing can help her to express herself better. Especially on the computer because you have to use both hands to type.
Preteen years are sooo frustrating. She doesn't need more discipline, she just needs more love and understanding and spacial guidance to discover life on her own and be free enough to use the wisdom you have taught her thus far to "figure life out". Just be there. Give her even more honest unprevoked love, without trying too hard. And above all... PRAY for her continually. Try not to stress because she can feel your stress and that is not what she needs, and she will just become even more embarrassed, and withdrawn and then hide it from you even more. Noone wants to be acknowledged for their bad behavior habits especially while we are "caught" in the act, but giving her other things to just "do" randomly when you catch her is a much better way to "interrupt" the behavior other than calling attention to it. She can feel even more ugly and unnaccepted, especially by her own self. ReDirection...and less time bored and alone...maybe? My girls and I will lift you up as well. Let us know how she progresses. HTH!

When I was in my early teens, I thought I may have Trichotelimania.....I would pull out thin strands of hair, never very much, but it was like a forceful habit...I have a large part, so I would pull at the crown...later, it took a while to train my hair to lay flat over that spot...and it is finally normal again, but there's no reason for me to have done it in the first place...my advice would be to help your daughter fix her hair...maybe do a new style, like braids or barrettes or headbands...something that will take the pressure of the 'spots' and put focus on something else...not sure how short it is now, but pressure on the 'spots' may also help - so pull her hair tightly in pony tails or other devices and it will be harder for her to pull out, plus if she feels the need, she may only be able to scratch that area instead of causing herself to go bald. Also a new shampoo or smelly conditioner could help....try head and shoulders in case her scalp itches, and a girly conditioner that will make her hair smell good...I used to chew on the ends of my hair also - not sure if she has gotten into that habit as well, but if she could smell her hair instead of messing around with it, it may ease her mind...like a pretty lavender scent would provide aromatherapy, calm her down, and maybe take her mind in a more peaceful direction. Good luck!!

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