Trichotillosis; Compulsive Hair Pulling
Trichotillomania – A hair pulling epidemic
I hang out once a week with a group of psychologists who are friends of mine. They know how passionate I am about all aspects of hair. Recently a friend made me aware of an anxiety disorder which affects children and women of all ages, trichotillosis. After hearing some heart breaking stories I decided it was time to do my due diligence to educate myself about this disorder and realized it is debilitating to the inflicted. “Trich” suffers pull out their own hair and experience a temporary euphoria from doing so. After they pull out their hair they are depressed and have no desire to leave the house and live normal lives.
After some searching I found an expert in the field of trichotillomania, Noelle Spinosa of Noelle Salon in Massachusetts (NoelleSalon.com). Spinosa works with trich on a day-to-day basis and I recently was able to interview her, here are the highlights of that interview:
Q & A with Noelle
- How did you start working with hair loss and trichotillomania?
- Amazingly, the clients came to me. There is a lack of support and treatment centers for hair loss disorders and I made helping women and men with hair loss a passion and word started getting around.
- What types of treatments do you offer?
- We help our clients on an aesthetic level by giving them their “hair back” we give them their will to live a normal life and feel like themselves.
- What types of hair loss do you work with?
- Everyone knows that hair loss occurs for different reasons, but trichotillomania an impulsive control disorder needs more attention and compassion.
- Who suffers from Trichotillomania and why?
- I find that most clients with trich start pulling their own hair in their pre-teens and teens and the cycle continues for their entire life unless they are treated, and it is treatable. We have clients that are highly educated Physicians, lawyers and professionals.
- How do you help them?
- I use a hair extension technique, not the type you see on celebrities, but custom-made hair extensions that are microscopic and hidden in their own hair. These tiny attachments are filled with human hair that matches their own and trich clients just stay away from them and what is amazing is that their own hair starts to grow back.
- Do you offer any other types of treatments?
- I have clients that have pulled their hair at the entire top of their head and they require what is called a hair replacement system. This system covers the entire affected area. We tie the system in place – NEVER shaving any portion of their existing hair.
- How does this help them long-term?
- The hair system blocks them from touching their hair.
- Will they have to wear this forever?
- Some clients have done such extreme damage to their hair follicles by over pulling, that they will never sprout new hair. I encourage them to wear the systems to look better. I also encourage them to seek insurance coverage for the hair replacement system and provide them with all the documentation they need. Clients with hair extensions eventually do not need to wear them at all once their hair grows in.
- What about medical attention?
- I strongly encourage they seek the help of a psychologist and psychiatrist. I have a referral list of medical professionals that work with this condition. Some experts do not agree on the use of medication for this treatment, but SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have helped.
- Is there anything else they can do?
- I treat them aesthetically and talk about the disorder while working on them. I know that life challenges bring out this disorder so I strongly encourage them to seek some holistic approaches such as meditation, yoga and stress relief remedies.
This interview was a real eye opener and made me appreciate my own hair and I am honored to help the trichotillosis community!
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