Trichotillomania: What to Look For

Signs a child might have this disorder include rapid or asymmetrical hair loss, hair on the floor and pillows, and having hands constantly near the head. Wearing hats or other cover-ups and constantly checking mirror reflections may also be signs of the disorder. Some children describe feeling a release of tension after pulling out their hair, although those who pull unconsciously won’t experience this sensation. When asked, many children deny pulling out their hair (and, indeed, may really not remember ever doing it). Some kids with trichotillomania have rituals surrounding their hair pulling and may play with the hair afterwards, rolling or bending it, or putting it to their lips. Because severe hair pulling has an effect on a child’s appearance, it can be damaging to self-esteem and may interfere with social life and performance in school. Onset commonly occurs around 12 years of age, but it can appear in much younger children.