Does hair pulling cause permanent hair loss, and how can I treat it?
I’m a 28 year old female and I used to suffer from trichotillomania during my teenage years. I managed to force myself to stop pulling my hair because I realised that the hair on top of my scalp started thinning. My hair has reduced quite a bit around the center top, even though I’ve stopped pulling for years now. Is there a chance that my hair loss is permanent from the pulling? How can I treat hair loss caused by hair pulling? Thank you.
Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder sometimes linked/worsen by other issue like depression or stress. It is first improtant to make sure this habit is not going to happen again.
The chances of having permanent hair loss is high given that the hair has stayed thin now at the age of 28 when the pulling occured during teenage years. If the pulling of hair has only been stopped recently, there may be a small chance some of the hair pulled out may still grow back. Pulling of each hair may result in the actual hair bud (where the growth center is) being pulled out in which it is permanent.
Sometimes, the bud is not being pulled out if the shaft is broken. However if the trichotillomania is chronic, it is likely you would have lost some amount of hair permenantly. Given a year and if the hair doesnt grow back much, it is likely this is what you are going to have.
Permanent hair loss can be treated through hair transplant where we take the hair from the back of your scalp and transplant it in the thinned area. However, trichotillomania is absolutely contraindicted to hair transplant and you must be sure you have the issue under control. If not all the transplanted hair will be wasted and there may not be any point doing it.
Otherwise hair transplant would usually be very highly successful in the rate of 97-98% here in the absence of any other medical illnesses and scalp diseases.
At the end of the day, you will have to seek the right doctor and someone who have years of experience dealing with hair and will give you the right advise. Hope that helps.
As you have correctly done, stopping the hair pulling is the first step in controlling the permanent follicle damage that can be caused by mechanical traction trauma. Do continue to be mindful to avoid pulling out more hair!
If there are areas of scalp that have gaps in hair growth, you may already have caused permanent hair follicle damage to those follicles. In other words, new hair growth from those areas may not be possible without a hair transplantation procedure.
A thorough examination of the affected areas of scalp, as well as the back of the head, will determine if you are a suitable candidate for a hair transplantation procedure. During this consultation, other options to aid with scalp coverage such as scalp micropigmentation will also be discussed. I hope this helps.
Dr Joshua Chong