Pulling out eyelashes is a symptom of trichotillomania, an impulse control disorder. The condition is more common that many people realize and is particularly prevalent in teenagers and young adults: around four people out of every one hundred will develop the condition. Trichotillomania sufferers pull out hair from their body. The compulsion to pull out hair is usually restricted to hair on the head, but eyelashes, eyebrows, and body hair can also be affected, so if you or someone you know is suffering from the condition, it is helpful to find out how to stop pulling out eyelashes and other body hair.
Trichotillomania is a form of self-harming. In much the same way as a person who cuts him or herself does so to relieve stress, anxiety and tension, a trichotillomania sufferer pulls out their hair to achieve the same relief. Indeed, many trichotillomania sufferers also practice other forms of self-mutilation as well as hair pulling, and the disorder is often a symptom of a much larger problem.
The condition is sometimes described as an addiction: the more hair the sufferer pulls out, the more they enjoy the temporary sense of relief the action brings, and the more they continue doing it. Like a person in the throes of an eating disorder who is incapable of stopping the binge / starvation cycle, a person with trichotillomania is unable to stop hair pulling.
Although the causes of Trichotillomania are not always very clear, the disorder is very often linked to sexual abuse and emotional trauma, so until the underlying root cause of the condition has been addressed, the person is unlikely to respond well to any forms of treatment. People with trichotillomania usually suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and guilt, and due to the nature of the condition, many sufferers go to great lengths to hide their hair loss, which can make the condition very difficult to identify and treat.
How to stop pulling out eyelashes and body hair?
Psychotherapy and emotional support are the most effective ways to treat trichotillomania. Talking about problems in 1:1 sessions, or in a group setting, can often be extremely beneficial in helping the patient to come to terms with their underlying emotional issues.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to help patients change the way they think about themselves and how they relate to the world around them. It can make the patient more aware of how and why the hair pulling occurs and help them to identify the triggers that lead to the hair pulling impulse. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also help the patient learn new strategies for dealing with the hair-pulling urge, such as finding something more positive to do during stressful situations.
Learning how to stop pulling out eyelashes and body hair can also be achieved through hypnosis and relaxation therapies, and for many patients, these therapies can be an effective way of breaking the destructive hair pulling cycle.
As well as psychotherapy, family support is vital for the long-term recovery of a trichotillomania patient. Trichotillomania can cause great distress to families, particularly when the patient is a child, so it is very important that the whole family receives the right level of emotional support.