Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Research on treatment of trichotillomania is limited. However some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.

Psychotherapy

Habit reversal training is the primary psychotherapy for trichotillomania. This type of therapy helps you learn how to recognize situations where you're likely to pull hair and how to substitute other behaviors instead. For example, you might clench your fists for a period to "freeze" the urge, or redirect your hand from your hair to your ear.

Sometimes elements of other therapies may be blended with habit reversal training, including:

  • Cognitive therapy. This therapy can help you challenge and examine distorted beliefs you may have in relation to hair pulling.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy. This therapy can help you learn to accept your hair-pulling urges without acting on them.

Medications

No medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for the treatment of trichotillomania. However, some medications may help control your symptoms.

For example, your doctor may recommend an antidepressant, such as clomipramine (Anafranil). Other medications that research suggests may have some benefit include N-acetylcysteine (as-uh-tul-SIS-tee-een), an amino acid that influences neurotransmitters related to mood, and olanzapine (Zyprexa), an atypical antipsychotic.

Talk with your doctor about any medication that he or she suggests. The possible benefits of medications should always be balanced against possible side effects.

Feb. 13, 2014

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.