Hair-raising problem

Pulling out your hair is a recognized medical problem, not a sign of frustration

Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham tweeted a picture of her hairpiece while traveling in Beijing – a subtle indication of trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder. The revelation by a celebrated beauty like her that she suffers from the compulsion to pull her hair is a validation that it is nothing to be ashamed of, and can happen to anyone.

Victoria Beckham

Many celebrities are afflicted with the hair pulling disorder. During a recent Q+A session on social media, Victoria’s Secret angel Sara Sampaio said her eyebrows were sparse because of trichotillomania. Sara revealed that she has been pulling her eyelashes and eyebrows since she was 15. Her symptoms worsen when she is under stress.

Trichotillomania is hair loss from the repeated urge to pull or twist the hair until it breaks off. “Trichotillomania (TTM) is a mental disorder in which people feel an overwhelming need to pull out their own hair. Most pull out the hair on their scalp. However, some people may also pull hair out of their beards, eyelashes, or eyebrows,” says Dr Monica Kapoor, celebrity cosmetologist & Director at FLAWLESS Cosmetic clinics & ILACAD Institute. These people realize what they are doing and the consequences of their actions, but they are unable to stop their behaviour.

Dr Monica Kapoor.

American actresses Megan Fox was diagnosed with trichotillomania and hospitalised thrice for treatment. “Patients are unable to stop this behaviour, even as their hair becomes thinner. It is a rare impulse control disorder,” explains Dr Nivedita Dadu, renowned dermatologist, founder & chairman of Dr Nivedita Dadu’s Dermatology Clinic. “Trichotillomania patients go to great lengths to hide their appearance, living in shame and fear of the world discovering their secret,” she adds.

Dr Nivedita Dadu.

The disorder affects between three to five per cent of the world’s population. It usually develops during adolescence, but it’s been known to appear in young children, too. “Once it starts, it can continue for several years through to adulthood. It affects males and females equally in childhood but can affect females more often during adulthood,” says Dr Monica.

Next Story