Is hair pulling hereditary?

Hair Pulling Disorder

What is Hair-Pulling Disorder?  

The hair-pulling disorder is medically termed as ‘Trichotillomania’. You’ve probably heard of it, but don’t know too much about it, which is why we’re here to help. 

Trichotillomania or hair pulling is an impulse control disorder in which the person pulls out their own hair. It is usually caused by anxiety and depression and may come and go over the years.

People who suffer from this disorder usually have an increased urge to pull out hair from anywhere in the body with their fingers, tweezers, or other objects. The most common areas are the scalp and eyebrows.

While the exact cause of trichotillomania is unknown, people with this condition tend to experience strong urges to pull out their hair and can’t stop themselves from doing it. Anxiety can be a trigger for pulling out hair in some individuals.

Long hair pulling is a mental disorder in which the sufferer experiences an irresistible urge to pull out his/her own hair and sometimes even eat it. The disorder affects women more than men and is most prevalent in females between the age of 12 and 19.

Types of Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a mental disorder in which individuals have a compulsive desire to pull out their hair. In most cases of trichotillomania, hair that is pulled out is frequently replaced by new growth. The most common area in which people pull hair is the scalp, but they may also pull hair from other parts of the body, including eyebrows, eyelashes, arms, legs and pubic areas.

There are two types of trichotillomania:

Mimicking: also referred to as habitual. This is where people pull hair out and then replace the hair with similar-looking hair. The extent of mimicking can range from a few hairs to a whole head full of wool.

Intermittent: where the people pull out their hair sporadically and without regard to replacement activity.

Treatment for Hair-Pulling Disorder

If you are suffering from trichotillomania then you should consult a dermatologist firstly because sometimes the trichotillomania symptoms are the result of an underlying skin condition. The dermatologist will examine the affected area to know what is the root cause of your problem.

This problem is psychologically caused or sometimes it can be caused by stress, anxiety, boredom or depression due to life changes. So consulting a psychologist is important in this case to stop trichotillomania. In severe cases, a psychiatrist can be consulted for medicines.

The main problem with the hair-pulling disorder is that the sufferers are unable to stop themselves from pulling their hair. They even feel less like themselves and are low in self-esteem.

It’s sad to see people go through this condition with no help. Fortunately, hair loss treatment is possible nowadays to treat trichotillomania. But it is important to know that there is no specific treatment for this disorder. The treatments are targeted to reduce the anxiety and depression levels of the sufferers.

The experts advise over-the-counter medicines such as Naltrexone that are used in alcohol addiction treatment and medicines like Prozac that are used for depression.

Is Hair-Pulling Hereditary?

In the case of this question, we can say that genetics might be responsible for the development of a disease but it does not necessarily mean that it is a certainty.

If in your case one of your parents had Hair Pulling Disorder (HPD), it may indicate a hereditary predisposition to get HPD as well, but it is not certain that you will get HPD. It means that there is a higher possibility of developing HPD than in the case of people with no family history of HPD.

The chance increases even more if both parents are affected by HPD/Trichotillomania.

People who have trichotillomania also are likely to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. Seeing a good therapist can help you combat this condition and deal with the psychological and genetic reasons behind it.

Home Remedies

Home remedies for the hair-pulling disorder include different types of therapies like acceptance and commitment therapy where you will be able to practice accepting the hair-pulling urges without actually pulling your hair. 

Other therapies involve habit reversal where you will practice less harmful habits instead of hair pulling, like clenching your fists when you have the urge to pull your hair. 

Another therapy involves cognitive behaviour where people explore and change the beliefs that lead to hair pulling.

Take Away

Trichotillomania is a compulsive disorder where the person pulls out his/her own hair. This disorder may involve plucking single hair or pulling out large bundles of hair from the scalp or body. It can be brought about by stress, depression, boredom, etc., which make the person lose control over their actions. It can also be brought by hereditary.

But the truth is; hereditary does not mean a person has to have a hair-pulling disorder. It does however mean that a person has a higher chance of developing the problem, although the chances are still very low.

The disorder is equal in both the sexes and in most cases, the first symptom is discovered during puberty. However, just as any other disorder, it can start from any age.

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