Tips for Dealing With Trichotillomania
There are coping mechanisms for the hair pulling disorder
You may be dealing with an embarrassing situation and are not sure how to go about seeking help. It may have started with you twirling your hair between your fingers as a nervous habit, or when you are in deep thought. Perhaps the situation progressed and you unwittingly began tugging at your tresses in the same spot on a more regular basis. Before you knew it, you were pulling your hair with such frequency, until it came out and you had a bald spot. Try as you might, you have been unable to discontinue this unwelcome behavior, because you feel a sense of peace and relaxation when you do it. This condition is referred to as Trichotillomania, which is a nervous disorder and not considered as a mental illness.
Trichotillomania can be classified as an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). This is when an individual has a habit that they find themselves compelled to obsessively repeat over and over and are unable to refrain from it. Some individuals have one particular spot that they cannot leave alone, while others have mutiple patches of missing hair. If you are frustrated at pulling your hair until it comes out, the following suggestions should help you get a handle on the situation. If they do not work for you then please consult your health care professional for additional assistance.
Wear a wig, scarf, night cap or hat
One of the easiest ways to combat the urge to reach for your hair is by keeping it covered. Having something covering your head puts a barrier between your hands and your hair. A wig, night cap, scarf or a hat may help you keep your hands where they belong. This will also give your damaged tresses a chance to grow back. If you have a hairdresser, don't feel ashamed if you don't want him or her to know your secret. Utilize a wig until your hair has grown back sufficiently and you feel comfortable seeing the barber or beautician again.
Family can help
Tell a spouse, trusted friend or a few family members about your situation. Ask them to gently remind you and stop you when they see you reaching for your head. They can verbally remind you or grab your hand before you touch your hair. Perhaps they have already noticed how often you pull your hair, r even mentioned the bald spot. If so they might be more than willing to help you as you try to recover.
Good nutrition is always in order so make sure you are getting plenty of veggies and fruits. Stress can deplete vitamins and minerals from your body so consider a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement, and or one that is for hair and skin. Check with your local health food store for supplementation specifically for OCD. N Acetyl Cystine comes highly recommended.
Rest and sleep
Make sure you are getting proper rest and sleep, Lack of shut eye and not relaxing enough can make you irritable. This could actually bring about this habit you are trying to break.
Put your hands to good use
Keeping your hands busy will keep them out of your scalp. Rub your hands through the fur of a pet, such as a cat or dog on a regular basis. Hug your children, and grandchildren, or give your spouse a shoulder massage. Run your hands through your spouses hair or use one hand to gently rub your own opposite arm or leg as an alternate activity.
Snap your fingers, clasp your hand together or make a fist, then open your hands wide. You may even come up with your own ideas. The goal is to find something to do with your hands so that you are not tugging on your tresses. Type on your cell phone, tablet or lap top. Write, draw or color, whatever helps you focus on something different. Pray or find a mantra that works for you. Consider the phrase, "This too shall pass" or find one that works for you.
Soak in a tub with your favorite essential oil, bubble bath or epsom salt. Use scented candles or burn incense in your home. Drink chamomile or any favorite tea that helps you relax. Try breathing techniques such as inhaling deeply through the nose, then exhale slowly through the mouth in sets of 10.
Put a little warm oil on your hands and massage your scalp for relaxation and also to improve blood flow, read a good book or watch a favorite movie to calm your nerves and be sure to laugh which is a great stress buster. You may also benefit from paying attention to when you pull your hair. If you find that it is not random and happens at specific times, then you may have triggers. It will be important to identify them and try to eliminate or find ways not to react to them.
Become Obsessive Compulsive (No pun intended)
When it come to trying to rid yourself of unconsciously pulling your hair you must take to approach of being obsessive and compulsive. All day every day do each of the suggestions recommended as if your life depended on them. Don’t become discouraged if you relapse or it takes longer than you expected to get things under control. Keep the motto in mind of “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Don't defeat yourself by setting goals that you may fall short off. Reward yourself for each hour, or 24 hour period that you do not tug on your hair. As new growth fills in the bald spots, try experimenting with different hair styles to show off your success. Take it one day at a time and the best of luck to you.