Preparing for your appointment

Seeking help is the first step in treating trichotillomania. At first you may see your primary care doctor or a dermatologist. He or she may refer you to a mental health professional.

What you can do

Before your appointment make a list of:

  • All the symptoms you're experiencing, even if they seem unrelated to hair pulling. Trichotillomania can cause both physical and psychological symptoms. Note what triggers your hair pulling, how you've tried to deal with the problem, and factors that make it better or worse.
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes and whether hair pulling runs in your family.
  • All medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements that you're taking, including the dosages and how long you've been taking them.
  • Questions to ask your doctor to make the most of your appointment time.

Questions to ask your doctor may include:

  • What might have caused me to develop this disorder?
  • How do you diagnose this condition?
  • Is this something that will go away on its own? Is there anything I can do on my own to improve my symptoms?
  • What treatments do you recommend?
  • If I decide to take medications, how long will it take for my symptoms to improve?
  • What are the side effects of the medications you're recommending?
  • How much improvement can I realistically expect if I follow your treatment plan?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did your hair pulling first start?
  • Have you tried to stop pulling your hair? What was the result?
  • Are there times or situations that are likely to trigger your hair pulling?
  • What feelings do you have before and after you pull your hair?
  • From where on your body do you pull hair?
  • Do you bite, chew or swallow the hair?
  • How has your hair pulling affected your work, school or social life?
  • Have you had treatment (medication or therapy) for hair pulling or other emotional issues?