As of 2015, it is not clear what causes trichotillomania, states WebMD. Environmental and genetic factors, as well as abnormalities in neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, may contribute to this condition, reports Mayo Clinic.
Trichotillomania is a repeated urge to pull out hair from parts of the body such as eyebrows and scalp, reports WebMD. People with this impulse control disorder usually pull their hair as a way of comforting themselves, especially during stressful moments. Trichotillomania may cause bare patches in areas the person pulls the hair, skin damage, permanent hair loss and habits such as chewing on hair and twirling the hair.
This disorder is usually a lifelong problem and typically develops between the ages of 11 and 13, says Mayo Clinic. A family history of trichotillomania is a risk factor, and disorders such as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder are more common in patients with trichotillomania.
Habit reversal training is the primary treatment for trichotillomania and involves learning to abstain from pulling hair by doing something else that is not harmful, such as making a fist. Medication includes using a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and antipsychotics, such as aripiprazole or olanzapine, notes WebMD. Patients may also require stress counseling, advises MedicineNet. More women than men tend to seek treatment for trichotillomania, according to Mayo Clinic.