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Anxiety Disorders

Understanding Hair-Pulling and Skin-Picking Disorders: A Guide to Trichotillomania and Dermatillomania



What are Trichotillomania and Dermatillomania?

Trichotillomania (TTM) is a condition where someone pulls out their hair, while Dermatillomania (also known as skin-picking disorder) involves repeatedly picking at one’s skin. Both conditions can lead to visible changes in appearance and are tough habits to break.

How are They Related to Other Conditions?

Both TTM and Dermatillomania are considered to be related to habits that are hard to control, similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These actions are often linked to feelings of stress or boredom, and sometimes people might not even realize they’re pulling their hair or picking their skin.

What Happens to People with These Conditions?

People with TTM pull out hair from various parts of their body, which can cause bald spots. Those with Dermatillomania repeatedly pick at their skin, which can lead to sores or scars. Both conditions often start in childhood or adolescence and can be hidden due to feelings of shame or embarrassment.

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Why Do People Pull Their Hair or Pick Their Skin?

There are a few reasons why someone might develop these habits:

  • A lack of certain brain chemicals, like serotonin.
  • A way to relieve tension or stress.
  • A behavior that becomes a tough habit to break over time.

Both conditions may be influenced by genetics, as they can run in families.

How Common are These Conditions?

It’s hard to know exactly how many people have TTM or Dermatillomania because they might keep it a secret. But it’s possible that 1 in 50 people will experience TTM at some point, and Dermatillomania is also common.

What Other Conditions Are Related?

People with TTM or Dermatillomania often also struggle with other challenges like depression, anxiety, or eating disorders.

How Do You Know if Someone Has These Conditions?

Both TTM and Dermatillomania can be hard to recognize because those affected might not want to talk about them. Doctors have special ways to ask questions to understand better.

What Do These Conditions Look Like?

TTM usually shows up as bald spots, while Dermatillomania can be seen as wounds or scars on the skin from picking. In severe cases, eating hair (trichophagia) can cause stomach issues.

How Do You Treat These Conditions?

Treatment can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Support groups can also be helpful for dealing with the stigma and denial often associated with these disorders.

Are There Medicines for TTM and Dermatillomania?

Yes, there are different types of medicines that might help, but they don’t work the same for everyone. Some people might need to talk to a special doctor to find the best treatment.

What Else Should People Know?

Both TTM and Dermatillomania are complex conditions that benefit from a combination of medication and therapy. The website offers resources and support for those dealing with hair-pulling, and similar resources exist for skin-picking.

What’s the Outlook for Someone with These Conditions?

These conditions can be long-lasting, but sometimes they improve with age, especially in children. Early intervention can help prevent more serious problems.

Key Points to Remember

  • The reasons behind TTM and Dermatillomania can vary for each person.
  • Therapy and certain medications can offer relief.
  • These conditions are often not recognized due to social stigma.
  • They can significantly impact daily life, including social and academic activities.
  • It’s important to seek help and remember that you’re not alone in dealing with these challenges.

If you or someone you know is struggling with hair-pulling or skin-picking, remember that help is available. Recognizing the problem is the first step toward getting the right treatment and support.

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