Daughter Pulling Out Her Hair - Verbena,AL

Updated on August 19, 2010
A.H. asks from Verbena, AL
21 answers

Hi all, my 6 year old daughter just recently started pulling out her own hair. She started about a month ago with her eye lashes (had the entire tops of both eyes picked clean before I noticed what she was doing-she wears glasses and has bangs-they are growing back), thenshe moved on to her eyebrows (left is almost gone) and now she's pulling out her hair (only noticable to me, but getting worse).

I'd like to know if any other mothers are dealing or have dealt with this problem. I'm considering cutting her hair in a pixie style, short enough so that she can't grab hold of it really well. And hope that by the time it grows back she'll have forgetten the need/want to pull her hair. I'm really against the possibility of her being put on anit-depressents and am considering seriously hypnotisim.

What are your thoughts?

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answers from Dallas on

It's similar to an OCD disorder and it is more common that you think. Talk to her doctor about it and see if s/he recommends therapy, meds or a combo of both.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Medford on

There is a condition called trichtilomania (sp) in which one pulls out their hair. I think it may be related to OCD and/or anxiety. Anyway - I would definatley speak to her pediatrician about his and start treatment as this can become a lifelong condition that one has to battle. (I have a fmaily member that suffers) Best of luck and give that little girl lots of love and kisses.

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answers from San Francisco on

I also suffer from this but it started when I was ten years old. It's called trichotillomania.

Here is a resource site for more information:


I've been to five different psycologists and psycothereapists and on multiple different forms of drugs but nothing worked except for learning to control my stress triggers. I pull when I'm stressed. It's a cliché. You see cartoon characters drawn ripping out their hair when they get frustrated and that's the way I feel.

Some people have trich worse than others. Everyone is different. Like your daughter I pretty much have always pulled from my face but there was a brief period of time when I was in high school, and forced to stand up in front of the class to give presentations on school projects when I started ripping out patches from my scalp to the point where I looked like I had mange.

As an adult I have better control over my stressors and can politely turn down invitations to events that will stress me out so I can save my hair but it's so hard because it takes six months for eyebrows to grow back fully and longer for eyelashes. So one bad episode of pulling can undo over half a years growth. It's disheartening.

I would grow it all back and be in a happy place and then something would happen to trigger an attack and I'd be morose and depressed for weeks afterwards, removing myself from the world so I wouldn't have to face anyone with my non-face.

It's a hard thing to deal with but what made it worse was that my parents thought something was terribly wrong with me and it tore me up with how much they tried to "fix" me when doctors said there is no "cure". I just needed to learn to manage my stress to prevent an attack. But they didn't like that answer so they tore me up dragging me from place to place and experimenting to try and fix it.

Trich has only been "discovered" for about the last twenty years, and twenty one years ago was when I first started pulling so the resources were thin to nonexistent back then. I haven't explored new treatment since my last visit with a doctor about fifteen years ago so who knows, what they know about this problem could have advanced with leaps and bounds for all I know. I haven't had the courage to go and find out. I've just accepted that this is part of who I am.

One thing stuck in my head growing up though. One day when I was fixing my hair in the mirror before going out with my family to the aquarium or someplace. I was getting frustrated that my long hair wasn't staying properly in the banana clip I was trying to do it up in. Apparently I was holding up the whole family because everyone else was in the car and my dad was standing by the front door waiting for me to exit so he could lock it. He called out and told me to hurry up and asked what was taking so long. I told him I was trying to fix my hair and I'd be right there. Then he yelled, "You have no hair on your face, who the hell is going to give a damn about the hair on your head."

My heart just fell into my stomach. I knew he was frustrated at how I was holding everyone up but it colored how I looked at myself from then on. I sort of gave up trying to look pretty. I'd look in the mirror when trying to get ready to go out and just give up and leave my hair down. I grew out my bangs so they fell into my eyes and would sometimes poke my iris because I had no lashes to protect them. I took to wearing sunglasses a lot.

I only bare my soul to you now to help you understand that your daughter can't help what she's doing and will hate herself every time she pulls. It's a vicious thing. And she will take any admonishments about what she's doing to heart and hold onto them forever.

Once my mother tried to get me to stop by recruiting my uncle to tell me that if I didn't stop pulling my eyelashes and eyebrows out, I wouldn't be allowed to go to summer camp with his family that summer. I was so stressed about not pulling so I could go to camp that it triggered an attack and I destroyed my face again. I was mortified and devastated. I just wanted to give up and quit life sometimes. I felt like I was playing a rigged game.

I've never tried hypnotism but that's because I think it's bunk and wouldn't work on me. You need to believe in it and want it to work for it to do any good.

I'm 32 and I've been pulling since the fifth grade. The longest period of time I went pull free was two years and three months. One of my worst memories about this was when this problem first manifested and one day I went to school and was fine and in two days I had no eyebrows or eyelashes and the kids in my class noticed. They noticed and one loud obnoxious boy drew attention to me by yelling, "HEY! N. SHAVED HER EYEBROWS!" So of course everyone crouded around me and mortified I bolted from the classroom and hid in the boys bathroom. I would have hid in the girls bathroom but I knew they'd never look for me in the boys so I stayed there for the rest of the school day in a gross boy stall. When I emerged after the last bell to run to my mother's waiting car the car was parked in the lot but my mother wasn't there. I got snagged by one of the teachers and brought to the principles office where my mother and my teacher were waiting for me. I had to explain, to these adults, where I was, why I left and what set me off. It was insult to injury.

Since then I hid in a lot of bathrooms to avoid things like having to give presentations in front of the class. I would work diligently on my projects doing A+ work on them but I would skip the day for presenting by hiding and then turn in the project a day late, always to receive a zero for not presenting. I had a teacher tell me she really wanted to give me the A I deserved but she just didn't understand why I wouldn't get up in front of the class to finish the assignment properly.

I chose the bad grade over the mortification.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

as other poster have said before, it sounds like she had trichotillomania.

This can be treatable, but i would make sure she isnt eating it. i know that sounds very strange, but there is also a disorder that involved pulling out ones hair and eating it. This is dangerous because it can collect and cause a knot blocking the intestines. It is called Trichophagia.

i would ask her about it, just to be sure!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

This, like thumb-sucking, nail-biting and other habits, is about anxiety.

There are lots of treatments and programs suggested, but what really works is taking their anxiety seriously and helping them diminish it. When nervous people cease to be nervous, the habits they use to deal with it naturally disappear...

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answers from Columbus on

Triceltellmania is a psychiatric condition, and unfortunately, the treatment probably will call for some kind of pharmacitical intervention. Find a board certified Child psychiatrist and discuss your concerns with them. The treatment is effective, like it or not, sometimes we have to accept that our kids may have illnesses that are less than comfortable for us.

Untreated, most psyciatric conditions like this will continue to progress.


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answers from Little Rock on

If you feel that she is doing this because she is depressed, I would suggest treating the depression and possibly a counselor. If you allow it to go untreated it can get worse and worse. Also, I am pentecostal and don't believe in cutting or trimming the hair at all, but if she was pulling the tiny eye lashes and eye brows, a pixie cut is not going to make any difference. With a pixie cut, her hair is still going to be longer than her eye lashes or brows where. I also think that if she continues pulling her hair out, it will be more noticeable with a short haircut that with the longer hair. I would suggest putting her hair in a snug ponytail so that she cannot get easily get to the individual hairs. I do realize that we are talking about a 6 year old that can remove a ponytail, but if you put it back every time she takes it down and insist that it stay up it will detour her some. If you can't afford a counselor, public schools usually have a on-staff counselor at no charge. I also think the putting her on a mild anti-depressant now would be better that waiting for it to go to some worse. Not scare you, but young children can become depressed to point of suicide. I would not want it to go that far. If it were my child, I would definitely get some medical help even if it means anti-depressants and a counselor.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Your daughter has a classic case of trictillomania. Any psych condition left untreated will only worsen and will often manifest a new issue for what is called comobid mental health diagnosis. You can't fix this yourself and cutting her hair won't resolve it either. She needs mental health treatment with a trained child pychologist, psychiatrist and social worker. Her specific treatment may or may not require meds and often meds are not long term for all mental health disorders. Please don't delay her getting the help she needs.
Things to note for treatment are the issue of pulling out hair and location of hair and then any changes in childs life within six months prior to behavior change. Please make her appt soon.
God bless and many prayers

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answers from Topeka on

Nicole has given you a wealth of information...I had some experience with this when a neighbors daughter, who was the same age as our daughter, suffered from this condition years ago. I know there are medications that can help and that most people usually end up in counseling of some sort.
It is definitely something that you need to take her to her pediatrician to discuss.
Good luck to you.

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answers from Tulsa on

It does sound like she has trich. It is sad but you both should remember it's not her fault or yours. Everybody needs a little help in life now and then. Everybody has problems at some point. The pulling is her way of relieving stress. Not necessarily a stress from life etc.. but from inside herself. Her own internal thoughts and feelings. The short and instant pain she feels in pulling gives her relief- covering up the internal or mind pain. Kind of like a trade off. A way to control pain. Then it is addicting. At her age, I don't know if asking her why she does it- or- what she feels like right before she does it- would help. But, it's worth a try. At least to keep it open and letting her know you can talk about this. It's ok. Help is all she needs and a lot of people have this. She may need meds. There are so many other forms of self injury that have the same root cause. I do hope meds or natural forms help her. She deserves to feel better. That's the bottom line.

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answers from Jonesboro on

Please talk with your PCP about this and get a referall to someone who he feels can help her.

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answers from Birmingham on

My 9 year old does the same. He is my stepson and I missed the very beginning (about 4 years ago) but they put him on xanax n it was horrible. That isn't the answer. I work from home now and I think that makes a big difference. He is a very emotional kid and me being here for him helps a lot. Trictophilamenia (sp?) Is an emotional disease. Its means she is holding in her feelings n this is the way they are coming out. I would try a child pyschologist. She needs to learn how to deal with her emotions in a better way and it is so hard for that to happen. Hunter also had add and when his add meds aren't working right or he hasn't been taking them correctly then it gets worse. I'd keep seeing different drs until u find one who isn't going to say antidepressants r the answer. They r too young for that. We did shave hunters head bc it wld get to the point where it wld look patchy. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

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answers from Fort Smith on

I'm not familiar w/trich!! I'm wondering if this is what I may have though, but I have never pulled out my eyebrows or eyelashes. I have ALWAYS pulled out my hair though. I've gotten better as I have grown though, or I'd like to think I have. I am 35 now and still play w/my hair, knot it and pull it out. Usually it's by one strain at a time though. I remember when I was little I would pull out my hair b/c I couldn't get a knot out and put it under my bed. My mom would get angry at me when she'd find my hair. She always would threaten to take me to the doc, if I didn't stop. I kept doing it anyways though and she never told my doc or anyone. I would get SO embarrassed when she'd catch me playing w/my hair or taking it out of my mouth.
I do think I am strange though and have NEVER told ANYONE what I really do though. But I use the hair like dental floss and I think it feels good in my teeth. I leave the hair in my teeth for awhile or until it starts hurting really bad and then take it out. I don't "eat my hair". I do need to stop doing this b/c my kids are older now and I often wonder when or why they don't ask me what I am doing. I try to do it when they aren't looking. I have no clue why I do this. I'm sure nerves has a lot to do w/it and stress. My husband works all the time and I am home w/4 kids and they are ALWAYS w/me.
I do play or twist my hair more if I am lacking sleep. I do get my gums really sore though and then I will stop awhile and they will get well. I have stopped doing that here recently though b/c after I had my 4th baby 5 months ago I had a blood clot...so I am taking a blood thinner till the end of Sept..so I try not to get my gums bleeding. I can't stand the taste or smell of blood. Plus I'm afraid they won't stop bleeding if they do start.
I know, I am strange, but I was excited to see that I may not be the only one in this world w/this problem!!
I have tried cutting my hair short where I can't get it in my mouth, but then I just use my hands now to play w/it and break it off by knotting it or whatever. I am growing it out now. I love for my kids to want to play or fix my hair. I wish I could just leave it alone, b/c I do love my hair and it would look so full and pretty if I had more hair on the sides. I've gotten to wear I just pull out the sides of my hair and I wonder why I'm not bald on the sides. It is short and broken off and the back is long. I love to get my hair high-lighted also, but dread going to a salon - afraid they will say something or ask why my hair is so thin on the sides.
I'd like to stop this habit, but not take drugs. I have been on Lexapro and Zoloft for being afraid to drive a car w/my kids (afraid of having an accident) and also anxiety. I did feel better about driving and felt better, but I continued the habit of my hair.
I will go read about Trich. I'm interested to see if this is what I may have.
Is it hereitary? I would hate it if one of my kids would suffer from it also.
I would tell or talk to your child's doc, but not in front of her. I think that would have crushed me, if my Mom would have done that. I'm not sure how to fix it. I've always wanted to talk to someone about it, but too afraid to tell anyone.

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answers from Boca Raton on

This is a very difficult issue.

My older son dealt with this to a certain extent (not as severe though).

What worked for us was: 1) drastic stress reduction; 2) 5-HTP for anxiety; 3) B vitamins; 4) omegas. We came close to RX meds for anxiety, but decided to hold off when our natural approach appeared to be working (and it doesn't for everyone). Even with natural supplements you should do lots of research and seek advice from qualified professionals.

I so agree with Nicole - do not make it about "fixing" her. Just let her know that you want to help her have a good life as best you can, and that we all have our issues to deal with. Let her know you support her and admire all her strengths.

Nicole - your post was powerful and touching - thank you for sharing that.

Good luck.

PS: I had very little help from mainstream medicine.

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answers from Houma on

First I would consult with her pediatrician, then a psychologist who specializes in children. There must be some cause of the hair pulling. I'd try to find out what it is, and what does she get out of it? Is it like nail biting that kids do when they are nervous? What is going on in her life that may be stressful to her? Could be something at school. I would not ignore it. I would be very sceptical of medication in a 6 year old.



answers from Birmingham on

Instead of cutting her hair or considering anti-depressants, try to find out the root of her anxiety. Obviously, she is bothered by something. Is she in a daycare or private home daycare? Visiting a family you may be unfamiliar with? Try to talk with her and find out what is troubling her - it could be serious!



answers from Tulsa on

My best friend in college has Trichotillamania. It started when she was a child. Please make an appointment with your pediatrician or a psychologist to see if this is what she has.




answers from Shreveport on

anxious to see the answers, as I had a friend that did that yrs ago...



answers from Charlotte on



answers from Oklahoma City on

is this a way of throwing fits, or like a terrets tick something she cannot control?



answers from Tulsa on

I see you already have some answers, but...
My grandson did that when he was about 7. There is a clinical name for that. At that time, his mom was very busy, and in a bad relationship. Give her plenty of love, and lots of good attention. Helping on school work can be a good tool, making sure it is fun. Hope you don't resort to durgs for help. You can do it.

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