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Published On: Tue, May 1st, 2018

Trichotillomania in Numbers

The numbers behind trichotillomania help tell the story of the condition. Just like there is little known about much of the condition, there also is little information concerning the numbers, the epidemiology, behind trichotillomania. Fortunately, that lack of information appears to be going away. The growing recognition of the condition is fueling a push for more study of how much this condition affects groups of people.

It is extremely important for this information to be obtained. It will enable experts to determine what populations may be at-risk and will enable scientists and researchers to better help those who do suffer from the condition.

photo/ Welshsk via wikimeida

One study reported a range of 0.6% to 4% of the total population of the world and about 1% of the population of the U.S. will experience this condition at some time in their lives. Other sources have estimated 8 million Americans experience this condition at any given time. This comes out to be anywhere from 2% to 6% of the population. The difference may be in who is reported to have trichotillomania.

Often, gathering these kinds of statistics is difficult. Many people who have the condition may not report it. Others who have it may no seek any kind of treatment for it, and thus are not counted in any kind of survey of healthcare professionals.

The age of onset of trichotillomania appears to be somewhat variable. Most studies report the age range of onset to be between 9 and 13 years of age, with peak onset occurring between 12 and 13 years. There have been reports of adults as old as 60 experiencing their first onset.

Children are seven times more likely to experience trichotillomania. Early onset of symptoms often indicates more severe symptoms developing as the person ages. The severity of symptoms seems to be greater in adolescence and the prognosis poorer. This latter finding is especially true if the age of onset is closer to adulthood. Surveys suggest that older adolescents and adults who deal with this condition have a longer-lasting type of trichotillomania and respond more poorly to treatment efforts.

Regarding the number of males to females who have the condition, the distribution appears to be equal among younger children. But in preadolescence and young adulthood, a different trend is seen; in that age range, females begin to outnumber males in prevalence of the condition. And the amount by which females outnumber males is extremely significant: 70-93% of the sufferers in this age range are female. The American Journal of Psychiatry reported in 2007 the ratio of female to male sufferers to be 3 to 1. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition, reports a 10 to 1 ratio.

Many times, college populations are used for surveys of the occurrence of conditions. One reason for this is the availability of these students. Another is the representative nature of college populations. One study of college students reported 1-2% of them to have had symptoms of trichotillomania at some time. With no restrictions, 1.5% of men and 3.4% of women reported pulling hair resulting in obvious loss of hair. A survey conducted at an African-American university showed 6.3% of the students surveyed reported hair pulling at some time. This is one of the few studies reported comparing racial/ethnic group differentiations.

Another study reported fewer people in the U.S. suffering from trichotillomania. The Office of Rare Diseases of the National Institutes of Health reported fewer that 200,000 people to have this rare condition.

They also reported ‘automatic’ pulling, or that which occurs without conscious awareness, to be present in about three-fourths of adults with trichotillomania.

Other studies showed locations of hair pulling to be varied. Scalp hair loss appears to be the most ‘popular’, with 70% of hair loss occurring here. Eyebrows or eyelashes account for 50% of hair loss. Thirty percent of hair loss involves pubic hair, 20% involves body hair, and 10% involves facial hair.

In addition, reports show 40% of those with trichotillomania chew their hair. Another 10% affected actually swallow their hair. Eating hair that is pulled can lead to significant problems in the stomach.

While these statistics are valuable and revealing, they do not reveal the suffering brought on by this relatively unknown condition. Hopefully, learning more about how many and who are affected by trichotillomania will add to the efforts at treatment that also are taking place.

For more info about trichotillomania and treatment, visit trichstop.com

Author: Ariel T. – a writer and mental health advocate.

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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  1. TLC says:

    If you or someone you know is living with Hair Pulling, you are absolutely not alone. At least 2 or 3 out of 50 people suffer from trichotillomania. Trich is a complex disorder, with many factors including genetics, biology, and environment. However, it is possible to find recovery and healing. Please visit http://www.bfrb.org.

    First, you can review our list of treatment providers to find one in your area. If you cannot find one, we recommend you look for a therapist that you like who has a strong background in cognitive behavioral therapy and share our website with them. We also have some online services as well as online groups. Connecting with others has been a huge turning point for many people. Visit our page to see if there is a support group near you or if you’re interested, we can help you start one.
    Be sure to check out Our Expert Consensus Treatment Guidelines explains recommended treatment options.

    We also have self-help resources that will help you begin your healing process. As a first step, documenting triggers that cause you to pull can give you insight into what may be causing your behavior. Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices have been helpful for many people, as well as recognizing that certain foods may exacerbate pulling behaviors. The supplements
    N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and Inositol have been helpful for some people.

    You might also want to follow our Facebook page or contact Hair Pullers Anonymous, which offers phone-in support meetings.Finally, we highly recommend that you attend an event–we put on an annual conference & several regional workshops which is a great way to meet others who understand what you’re going through!

    We are here for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

    Warmly,
    Your Friends @ TLC

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