What causes trichotillomania? Learn facts and statistics about trichotillomania and how it is treated.

Trichotillomania is a complex condition in which someone resorts to pulling out their body hair in response to psychological distress.

Trichotillomania statistics show:

  • Trichotillomania impacts adults and children
  • The condition is more common in children ages 9–13 years than other age brackets
  • Older adolescents and teens with trichotillomania often experience increasingly severe symptoms the longer the condition is present
  • Hair pulling is a compulsive behavior driven by anxiety
  • People with trichotillomania most often pull hair from their scalp, eyebrows or eyelids

How Common Is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania is not as uncommon as it would seem. Approximately 1 in 50 people experience trichotillomania in their lifetime. Often, those who struggle with the condition keep it hidden as much as possible by covering the areas of the body that are affected. Efforts at hiding the disorder become more difficult as the condition progresses to more visible areas of the body, like the eyebrows and scalp.

Affected Population and Demographics

Anyone can develop trichotillomania. While trichotillomania in children is the most common type, the condition also affects adults.

When it comes to trichotillomania in men versus women, females are four times more likely to have it than men. The cause of this discrepancy between genders is unknown.

Trichotillomania is a condition that impacts people of all races. However, studies have shown that it affects some races differently than others. Caucasians are more likely to pull out eyebrow and eyelash hair than people of other races. In the study, minorities reported less distress prior to hair pulling than non-minorities.

Age of Onset

The age of onset for trichotillomania can vary. The condition often develops between the ages of 9 and 13, but can also be present in younger children. In most cases, hair-pulling that begins before the age of 6 can be expected to resolve on its own. However, the longer trichotillomania is present, the more challenging it is to treat, so early intervention is best.

Types of Hair Pulling

Trichotillomania can present itself in many ways. There are several types of trichotillomania, some of which are evident and others that can be disguised for a longer period, depending on the location of hair-pulling. Some people with trichotillomania pluck hair from the scalp, while others pluck eyelashes, eyebrows or hair from other parts of the body.

Risk Factors and Causes

Trichotillomania risk factors can vary. Often, the condition is more common for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or other anxiety-based disorders. While there is no specific cause for trichotillomania, increases in stress can worsen symptoms and cause more flare-ups in the behavior.

People who struggle with trichotillomania often deal with additional challenges related to anxiety. Those with trichotillomania and co-occurring anxiety disorder or depression often struggle with greater severity in symptoms than those who only have trichotillomania. There also seems to be a genetic component to the anxiety-based disorder, as people with trichotillomania often have a family member with OCD.

Trichotillomania Treatment and Prognosis

Trichotillomania prognosis varies, depending on how long the condition goes before being treated and the severity of the condition. If trichotillomania persists into late adolescence and adulthood, it can be more challenging to treat.

Often trichotillomania is treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Treatment modalities such as acceptance and commitment therapy can also be useful tools for exploring underlying sources of stress and anxiety and learning alternative coping strategies.

If you or someone you know lives with co-occurring trichotillomania and substance use disorder, specialized care can help. Reach out to The Recovery Village today for more information. 

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Paula Holmes, LCSW
Paula Holmes is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist and freelance writer who lives and works in midcoast Maine. She received her master's degree in Social Work in 2008 from the University of Maine. Read more

Medlineplus.gov. “Trichotillomania.” Accessed April 13, 2019.

Neal-Barnett, Angela & Flessner, Christopher & E Franklin, Martin & Woods, Douglas & Keuthen, Nancy & Stein, Dan. “Ethnic differences in trichotillomania: Phenomenology, interference, impairment, and treatment efficacy.” Journal of Anxiety Disorders, August 2010. Accessed April 13, 2019.

Grant, J., Redden, S, Leppink, E., Chamberlain, S. “Trichotillomania and Co-occurring Anxiety.” Comprehensive Psychiatry, Jan 2017. Accessed April 13, 2019.

Bfrb.org. “What is Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder)?” The TLC Foundation. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.