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Permanent Hair Loss

Can Hair Pulling Disorders Cause Permanent Hair Loss?

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Can Hair Pulling Disorders Cause Permanent Hair Loss?

Have you ever stated that you’re so frustrated that you could pull out your hair? While it’s a popular expression, there’s truth behind these statements. For some people, chronic hair-pulling can be a physically and emotionally painful condition.

The real question is whether hair pulling will permanently damage the hair follicle, and you’ll lose precious locks of hair forever. Additionally, what should you do if you’ve lost hair due to this anxiety-based disorder?

The Cycle of Human Hair

Did you know that it’s normal for humans to lose 50-100 hairs from their heads each day? That number could be more significant if you have health issues or a hair loss condition like male pattern baldness. You may notice a few shed hairs on your pillow, brush, or shower drain, but most of these hairs are just from normal loss.

Fortunately, most people’s scalps produce new hair follicles during the classic two-to-five-month cycle. Shedding and regeneration is usually so insignificant that it’s unnoticeable. However, what if you’re experiencing hair loss because you feel compelled to pull it out because of anxiety?

The Effects of the Stress Response

If you struggle with chronic anxiety or a mental health disorder, you know how it can affect your daily life. Humans develop a stress response to life-threatening situations. Your brain automatically kicks into high gear and signals your endocrine glands to pump supercharged hormones into your bloodstream, like adrenaline and cortisol.

These stress hormones stoke your entire body and temporarily provide extra strength and stamina in emergencies. It’s an innate response to flee, fight, freeze, or faint. The stress response is to preserve yourself and was never meant to be a chronic state.

People who battle chronic stress are at risk for many diseases and conditions, like heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes, and even some cancers. Undue stress also assaults you psychologically and emotionally, causing constant anxiety and depression.

People cope with stress in different ways, which may hinder daily living activities. Many people become obsessed with their coping mechanisms and are compelled to do them. They may develop a severe mental disorder called obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.

At least 1.2% of Americans are diagnosed with OCD, but sadly, many folks go undiagnosed. For some, repetitive actions to calm their nerves include things like counting, perfectionism, cleanliness, and locking/unlocking doors. These are the survival skills they’ve developed to help with their angst. Others may resort to more harmful compulsions like self-mutilation, including hair pulling and cutting.

What is Trichotillomania?

Throughout history, physicians and spiritual practitioners have documented the connection between hair pulling and people’s mental condition. Aristotle mentioned this complex condition in Ancient Greece.

In the late 19th century, a French dermatologist named François Henri Hallopeau was the expert who discovered Trichotillomania. It’s a Greek word that means pulling out one’s hair compulsively.

Pulling hair from your scalp or body is painful, even if it’s done for cosmetic reasons. Nobody gets excited about eyebrow plucking or body waxing. You also know the feeling if you are constantly picking at a hair that’s bugging you or looks out of place.

People with Trichotillomania don’t just pull the occasional hair. They relieve stress by continually plucking hair from their scalp and body. Sometimes, the condition gets so bad that they develop noticeable bald spots or have large patches of missing hair.

Regardless of the stinging pain and the embarrassment of bald patches, these folks can’t control it. Pulling their hair makes them anxious, and the compulsion to pull more overtakes them. It’s like biting the inside of your cheek, as some people just do it without being conscious of their actions. A never-ending cycle can only be broken with professional intervention.

Signs and Risk Factors

If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They can easily determine if anxiety is at the crux of your issues. Here are some signs that you have a hair pulling disorder:

•You feel the constant urge to pull hair from your scalp or body, and sometimes you pull your hair without thinking about it.

•You’ve increased anxiety levels that’s temporarily relieved by hair pulling.

•You not only pull your hair, but you’re also fond of chewing or swallowing those pulled strands.

•You have chronic anxiety and depression related to stress and hair pulling.

•There are noticeable bald patches on your head or body.

•You pull your hair privately and try to keep the condition secret.

Like many other mental health concerns, you may be genetically predisposed to Trichotillomania, especially if you have close relatives with it. It can also be a related symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Most people who battle a hair pulling condition develop it as an early teen, and it can affect both girls and boys equally.

Health Risks of Hair Pulling Disorders

Not only can the hair-pulling disorder be devastating to your emotional well-being and self-esteem, but it can also involve physical health risks. Chronic Trichotillomania can cause skin infections, scarring, and permanent bald patches. Since those with the disorder often eat their pulled hair, they can develop dangerous intestinal blockages due to hair masses.

There are no approved medications that can cure hair-pulling disorders. Fortunately, cognitive therapy and habit reversal training can successfully treat or reduce the symptoms. What about permanent hair loss due to chronic Trichotillomania? Is there anything you can do to help cover the baldness from this devastating condition?

Is Hair Restoration Surgery the Answer?

If you have male pattern baldness or have developed thinning hair from conditions such as Trichotillomania, hair restoration surgery may be a viable option. Call AZ Hair Restoration Clinic in Raleigh, NC, today to schedule a consultation. Dr. Arthur Zacco and his experienced, compassionate staff can discuss a hair transplant procedure right for you.