Trichotillomania is the compulsion to pull out one’s own hair. It results in irregular patches of incomplete hair loss, mainly on the scalp, but may associate the eyebrows and eyelashes as well. The habit of pulling out one’s hair is usually exercised in bed before falling asleep or when the child is studying or watching television. Interestingly, parents are usually not aware of the habit and frequently find it hard to believe that their child would do such a thing. Affected areas of hair loss often appear on the left side of right-handed children and on the right side of left-handed youngsters. Most cases of trichotillomania resolve spontaneously. Diagnosis of this type of alopecia can be done in the assistance of your own home, by closely evaluating your child to see if they have this habit. The cause of this type of condition many times is related to stress, long term ongoing tension or other possible psychological or emotional deficiencies. The best cure is to ignore the hair pulling and concentrate on why the child is scared, nervous or frustrated.
Following a high fever, flu or severe emotional stress, hairs that were in their growth phase can sometimes be suddenly transformed into their resting phase. Two to 4 months later, when the child is otherwise fine and the stress is forgotten, these hairs can begin to shed. The shedding, which is actually a mass exodus of follicles from growth into dormancy, can last for up to 6 weeks. The hair loss is not total nor does it tend to show up in patches. It typically appears thin throughout the scalp. Unless the initial cause is repeated, all the hairs normally return (Telogen Effluvium explains why many mothers lose so much hair in the weeks following childbirth). Most parents who bring their child to the physician for this condition are worried that the youngster has cancer or another bad disease. Hair takes between 3 and 6 months to re-enter into growth phase, so the restoration can be somewhat slow.