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Quick Facts on Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling)

A brief overview of the signs and symptoms of trichotillomania, and how it's treated in children and adolescents.

en Español


Trichotillomania is a disorder characterized by the urge to pull out hair from the scalp or other parts of the body, including the eyelashes, brows, genitals, back, arms and legs. Children and adolescents are more likely to pull hair out from the scalp. Kids often pull unconsciously. Some children with trichotillomania also compulsively eat their hair after pulling it out.


  • Asymmetrical hair loss
  • Hair on the floor, pillows
  • Hands are constantly near the head
  • Child wears hats or other cover-ups
  • Constant checking in mirror
  • Damaged self-esteem
  • Significant distress

Treatment for Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling)

Trichotillomania is treated primarily through cognitive behavioral (CBT), which helps children become more aware of their hair pulling. Through CBT children can come to recognize the emotions and triggers involved with the habit. Sometimes something as simple as wearing loud, dangling bracelets can make kids more self-aware. Then they can learn to substitute a different action that involves the hands. Some doctors recommend tricks that make hair pulling more difficult, such as wearing bandages around the fingers and nails.

Medication is usually not the first choice in treating trichotillomania, although children may be prescribed antidepressants, such as SSRIs, while they participate in behavioral therapy.


This article was last reviewed or updated on October 30, 2023.