Research on treatment of trichotillomania is limited. However, some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.
Types of therapy that may be helpful for trichotillomania include:
- Habit reversal training. This behavior therapy is the primary treatment for trichotillomania. You learn how to recognize situations where you're likely to pull your hair and how to substitute other behaviors instead. For example, you might clench your fists to help stop the urge or redirect your hand from your hair to your ear. Other therapies may be used along with habit reversal training.
- Cognitive therapy. This therapy can help you identify 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.
Therapies that help with other mental health disorders often associated with trichotillomania, such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse, can be an important part of treatment.
Although no medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for the treatment of trichotillomania, some medications may help control certain 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.
Nov. 17, 2016
- Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Oct. 3, 2016.
- Trichotillomania. National Organization for Rare Disorders. http://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/trichotillomania/. Accessed Sept. 30, 2016.
- Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder). Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/obsessive-compulsive-and-related-disorders/trichotillomania. Accessed Sept. 30, 2016.
- Iorizzo M, et al. Current and future treatments of alopecia areata and trichotillomania in children. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy. 2016;17:1767.
- Grant JE, et al. Trichotillomania. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2016;173:868.
- Woods DW, et al. Diagnosis, evaluation, and management of trichotillomania. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2014;37:301.
- Rothbart R, et al. Pharmacotherapy for trichotillomania. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007662.pub2/full. Accessed Oct. 3, 2016.
- Whiteside SP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 1, 2016.
Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder)