Trichotillomania (TTM), also known as hair-pulling disorder or compulsive hair pulling, is a mental disorder characterized by a long-term urge that results in the pulling out of one's own hair. A brief positive feeling may occur as hair is removed. Efforts to stop pulling hair typically fail. Hair removal may occur anywhere; however, the head and around the eyes are most common. The hair pulling is to such a degree that it results in distress and hair loss can be seen.
The disorder may run in families. It occurs more commonly in those with obsessive compulsive disorder. Episodes of pulling may be triggered by anxiety. People usually acknowledge that they pull their hair, and broken hairs may be seen on examination. Other conditions that may present similarly include body dysmorphic disorder; however, in that condition people remove hair to try to improve what they see as a problem in how they look.
Treatment is typically with cognitive behavioral therapy. The medication clomipramine may also be helpful, as will keeping fingernails clipped. Trichotillomania is estimated to affect one to four percent of people. Trichotillomania most commonly begins in childhood or adolescence. Women are affected about 10 times more often than men. The name was created by François Henri Hallopeau in 1889, from the Greek θριξ/τριχ; thrix (meaning 'hair'), along with τίλλειν; tíllein (meaning 'to pull'), and μανία; mania (meaning 'madness').