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When Does Hair Pulling Start?
For me, it started when I was just a little girl.
There was some traumatic things happening in my childhood that brought it on.
For a lot of people with trichotillomania, it starts in an early adolescence age.
I however, was much younger than that.
I was a toddler when I was sucking my thumb and pulling my hair to cope with the situations going on around me.
According to the Encyclopedia for Children’s Health,
“Trichotillomania usually begins in the preteens but has been reported in children as young as one year old and has been seen first in adults over 50 years old. Patients in their seventies may suffer from trichotillomania. The mean age of onset is 12 years of age in girls and eight years of age in boys. This condition is seven times more common in children than in adults.”
What causes the onset of hair pulling varies; childhood trauma, body chemistry and genetics are all factors to look at.
Childhood trauma seems to be one of the most prevalent, it’s a coping mechanism for anxiety and stress children are dealing with.
Environmental living factors can also play a role in how secure a child feels growing up.
Divorce, death, abuse, abandonment, lack of affection all affect the security a child feels.
Hair pulling is like a security blanket, so is thumb sucking.
Body and Brain Chemistry
Body chemistry can play a role in hair pulling, I’ve seen diets and supplements that have helped reduce hair pulling completely.
Supplements like NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) have also been know to reduce and/or eliminate hair pulling.
Medications like Adderall have been reported to cause trichotillomania in children.
Genetics is believed to play a role in trichotillomania, could it be, that they are products of environment generation after generation?
I can only speak for what I’ve seen but in my family, generations have been effected by what my grandfather did to the girls in his family.
Many people in the same families live in the same conditions generation after generation. Maybe what seems genetic, is really environmental or body chemistry or a mix of both?
A body chemistry imbalance could be greatly influenced by environment, relationships and diet.
There is no exact cause of trichotillomania, every person is different but you can see similarities and patterns the more people you talk too.
Hang around awhile, it’s educating.
I think therapists and doctors who treat this would learn a lot by being a fly on the wall of groups where people with trichotillomania hang out.
When Does Trichotillomania Occur?
When Sitting Idle
It happens when a lot of us are sitting idle.
It could happen just about anywhere, but the most common places for me is in bed, in the car, reading, watching TV or sitting in class or church.
Idle hands are an enemy.
If I sit idle too long I start scanning the horizon for hairs.
The reason that trichotillomania resembles OCD is because if my hands are not busy doing something, they will find hairs to pull (or skin to pick, nails to bite, boogers to eat, etc).
I have a whole list of related behaviors that occur with my hair pulling.
Thumbsucking and hair pulling occur together anytime I’m tired and my hands are not working.
I have found a whole slew of things to keep my hands occupied.
Certain foods are also be a trigger for more hair pulling occurrences.
Sugar increases the hair pulling in a lot of people, myself included.
Gluten is another one that has an affect on me and others.
Stress and anxiety increase hair pulling occurrences in children and adults.
I know my work can be very intense sometimes and I try not to let stress get the best of me.
Hair pulling works like a coping mechanism, similar to overeating, it’s comforting for a lot of us to pull hair out in stressful and anxious moments.
Lack of sleep and fatigue are big triggers for hair pulling because when I’m tired, I just lay there and stroke my head and pull out the hairs.
It’s very hard to resist hair pulling when you’re over tired and laying down.
Lack of sleep also leads to more anxiety and anxiety is definitely a trigger for hair pulling.
Find Out When Trichotillomania Occurs!
If you’re like I was, maybe you don’t even realize when your hair pulling is occurring?
I would catch myself doing it and always condemn myself for not catching myself sooner.
Awareness is important if you want to know when Trichotillomania occurs.
I got myself a Keen bracelet for each hand because they alert me when I’m pulling my hair.
The bracelets catch me almost immediately.
After 6 months of wearing them, I practically catch myself every time it’s about to happen!
I could track things like the foods I ate, the amount of sleep I got and what my anxiety levels we’re like each day.
The journal kept track of when I pulled my hair, where I was, what was happening, how I was feeling and who I was with!
Sounds exhausting, I know, but it really wasn’t once I knew what to track for myself.
I basically made a couple prototype journals and kept track of when my trichtoillomania was occurring and I pieced together the different patterns in my life that were increasing my urges.
I’ve been able to really take a look at my external surroundings and make some positive changes to reduce my hair pulling.
I’ve also done a lot of inner work this year on realizing my self worth and value as a child of God.
I combined all that I learned from the journals I created and the inner work I’ve been doing while attending bible school and I created a therapy journal to help others with trichotillomania.
The journal is special because it’s loaded with the love of God and the healing promises He’s made.
It’s a health tracking journal specialized for people with trichotillomania.
If you want to know when trichotillomania is occurring, I encourage you to start looking at these things.
If you’re not aware when your pulling your hair, think about using a device like Keen to help.
There are lots of ways to counteract hair pulling if you know when it is happening!