Here is an email that we received from a patient:
My three year old is constantly pulling at his hair. Why is he doing this? Could this be a medical condition? What can I do to stop him from doing so?
Thank you for writing into us and we will certainly try to answer all your queries.
From what you have described, it is quite possible that your child is suffering from trichotillomania, an irresistible desire to pull out hair, especially from the head, eyebrows and at times, even the eyelashes. This is actually a disorder caused due to an inability to control one’s impulses. For many children, this is the method in which they soothe their jangled nerves.
Symptoms of trichotillomania:
While pulling at one’s own hair is the main symptom, there are others too. These include:
Causes and diagnosis:
Even though there is no actual known cause of trichotillomania, it has been associated with abnormalities that might be present in the brain. There are certain demarcated areas in the brain whichhandle regulations of emotions, habits, impulses and even body movements. If there is something wrong in these areas with alteration in the levels of neurotransmitters, there are bound to be issues in the physical and mental behaviour of individuals. Trichotillomania has also been linked to family history – if someone in your family has it, chances are that it might be carried forward.
Trichotillomania is easily diagnosed by a qualified dermatologist by routine clinical examination or with the help of a special instrument called dermatoscope. If confusion arises in special cases, a scalp biopsy very well confirms the diagnosis.