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Old 12-02-08, 05:13 PM
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Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

For the past couple years I've had a problem with pulling my hair out and constantly picking at my scalp. It started before I was diagnosed with ADD and put on medication, so I know it's not a result of stimulants.

At my worst, I will pull huge clumps of hair out from my scalp, to the point where I have noticeable bald spots. Even when my head gets sore and irritated, I continue to do it. But it's mostly an unconscious thing, to the point where it doesn't quite register what I'm doing until I look up from reading a book and see a pile of my hair sitting there. I guess I find it soothing. Thankfully, I can get it back under control when it gets to that point, and my hair starts re-growing.

But I have never been able to stop picking at my scalp. I do it almost constantly. I scratch at it, pick at it, rub it, etc. My scalp is often sore, irritated, and inflamed because of it. I have scabs, which I pick at even more. This is also an unconscious thing. I don't know why I do it, but I do.

I've always picked at my skin and even as a small child I loved to pick at scabs. I would also pluck my leg hairs when I was a pre-teen, because I liked to do it. I love to pluck my eyebrows, and I used to over-pluck them but not anymore. It has never been about inflicting harm on myself, though. The only things I'm troubled by is my hair pulling and scalp picking.

So, that's my ridiculously long lament about my picking/pulling/plucking. Does anyone else have this problem, or a similar problem? Does anyone have any advice or tips on how to control this? Any input is much appreciated!
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Old 12-02-08, 05:29 PM
chamaleon chamaleon is offline
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

i have slight hyperactivity in my hands and find myself picking at my scalp a bit too - i HAVE learned to control it a bit by typing a LOT.

concentrate on the physical loss - take a mirror and have a look at the bald spots and it might shock you into stopping - good luck!!!
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Old 12-02-08, 07:20 PM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

Hair-pulling can often be identified on the OCD spectrum of anxiety disorders. For some, it is a tensional outlet, something for the hands to do, or a strange way of feeling accomplishment at something. From my own reading on this, medication often not helpful in treating this, but behavior modification seems to give the most hope for evading and ridding oneself of these kinds of habits.
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Old 12-03-08, 09:25 PM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

Thanks for your replies, guys.

I've been trying to be really aware of when I catch myself doing this, and when I find myself NOT doing it, and you're right chamaleon - when I'm typing away on the computer, as well as thinking about how I want to say something or how to say something so it actually makes sense, I'm not picking my scalp.

I mean, obviously if I'm engaging in an activity that requires the use of both hands, they're not going to be futzing around with my head simultaneously. But also if my mind is completely engaged on something, like solving a math problem or typing up a competent post, I find I don't pick/pull.

Unfortunately, being completely engaged by any sort of activity is a rare occurrence, being ADD and all.
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Old 12-03-08, 10:37 PM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

Trichotillomania (pronounced: trik-oh-till-oh-may-nee-ah) is a type of psychological condition that involves strong urges to pull hair.

What Happens With Trichotillomania?

People with trichotillomania pull hair out at the root from places like the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or pubic area. Some people pull large handfuls of hair, which can leave bald patches on the scalp or eyebrows. Other people pull out their hair one strand at a time. Some inspect the strand after pulling it out, or play with the hair after it's been pulled. About half of people with the condition put the hair in their mouths after pulling it.

It might be hard to understand why someone would pull their own hair or eyelashes out — or why they wouldn't just stop. But trichotillomania isn't just an ordinary habit that a person can easily stop. It's a medical condition.

Trichotillomania is a type of compulsive behavior. This means that people with the condition feel an overwhelming urge to pull their hair. People with trichotillomania also may have other compulsive habits, such as nail biting or skin picking. Some people with trichotillomania also have problems like depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Compulsive behaviors like trichotillomania can sometimes run in families.

resource: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind...illomania.html
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Old 12-04-08, 04:20 PM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

I have trich as well, accept I pull out my nose hairs... I know, it's weird. But I also have dermatillomania where I chew the skin off around my fingernails. There's good articles on Wiki about it you might want to read. My Psyc tried putting me on antidepressants to help, but because of my gastric bypass surgery, the medicine made me absolutly crazy so I stopped taking it. I currently have no idea what to do about it, but I can relate.
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Old 12-04-08, 07:35 PM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

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Originally Posted by audible View Post
I have trich as well, accept I pull out my nose hairs... I know, it's weird. But I also have dermatillomania where I chew the skin off around my fingernails. There's good articles on Wiki about it you might want to read. My Psyc tried putting me on antidepressants to help, but because of my gastric bypass surgery, the medicine made me absolutly crazy so I stopped taking it. I currently have no idea what to do about it, but I can relate.
Well, at least I'm not alone, lol.

It's easy to find people who have similar stories regarding depression, or bi-polar, or anxiety... but rarely do I find anyone who had trich or dermatillomania. I have done a lot of research on both, but I've found myself wondering where the hell the other half of information is. Every website, including the trich website, leave much to be desired, personally.
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Old 12-09-08, 02:02 AM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

Elegy,
From what I've found, this is a pretty rare problem but I can relate as well, although I was never diagnosed. I am 26 years old and, thankfully, am no longer pulling but I did it for a period of time when I was a kid. I think it lasted maybe a year, I can't really remember but I was about eight or nine years old. I remember it as a very strong compulsion to pull out the hair at the top of my forehead, around the hairline. I don't remember clearly how it started or progressed, but I do know that at some point my parents took notice and started punishing me for doing it in order to get me to stop. I began doing it mainly at night when I was in bed, or anytime they weren't looking but I couldn't hide the bald spot so I still got yelled at, which reallly stressed me out and made the compulsion stronger.

Eventually, my dad took me to see a pediatrician, probably because the problem was becoming so physically obvious. I remember sitting on the paper-sheeted examination table while the doctor looked at my bald spot- kind of humiliating for a little girl. I don't know if he ever actually diagnosed me with anything, since it's not something my parents are willing to talk about. I do remember the doctor saying that if "she stops NOW" there would be no permanent baldness. You can imagine what kind of increased pressure and constant vigilance that resulted in back at home.

Long story short, I eventually did kick the habit. I don't know if it was the humiliation or the fear of leaving homeschool for public school the next year, but with a lot of struggle I did manage to stop. And my hair grew back.

I never gave it too much thought after that, partly because it was replaced by other compulsions and symptoms of anxiety and depression that I've sort of always believed that I am "weird" and need to hide these things. It wasn't until I entered community college that I discoverd the word "trichotillomania" from my sister's boyfriend who was getting his PhD in Psych. The online descriptions of it really freaked me out because they described my actions so well that I felt like my privacy had been violated. I mean, one site even described actions like "pulling hair and running it between the fingernails or teeth". How do I express the hours I spent doing just that? With my nails AND my teeth!! And that my obsession was that I was creeped out by the roots of the hair with their strange bulb-shape and wanted to pluck them off of the hair shaft by running them through my nails/teeth?? I mean, it really felt WRONG to have them growing out of that particular patch of my head! It was like I was the only one on the planet who knew they didn't belong there, and I just had to get them out of my head. Unfortunately, my actions were met with ridicule and bullying tactics, which only made it worse.

On the bright side, I fully believe that you can beat this. There are people who can help. I grew up in San Jose, CA and I know there is a Trich clinic in nearby Santa Cruz. I'm sure there are more in other states. I got through it without help, but I think you can make a cleaner break if you do so with help and guidance and support.

I guess if I had to give one good tip it would be this: The more time you spend around other people, the less you will pull. Hopefully this will not be only because of the social shame it would cause you, but because you are pleasantly distracted or engaged in something you have fun doing. But no matter what, every minute of the day that you can take away from pulling is a victory.
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Old 01-07-09, 04:18 AM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

This is the closest anyone has ever described my situation. Although I don't mess with my scalp much, (just the front where the dark hairs are) I have been picking ever since I could remember. White bumps on my arms, scabs, blackheads. Basically anything that looks different, I will mess with it till there's nothing left. I only pull hair when it is short, I can't handle ingrown hairs and I have to dig them up and pluck them. I think the picking is worse though. I didn't realize that I was picking unconsciously until my husband started to point it out.

I have always thought since middle school that I might be ADHD, for various reasons, but my stepbrother was diagnosed first and he lost a lot of weight, so they thought I was being dramatic and I was just lazy. Finally at 21 I decided to go to my doctor and talk about it. He diagnosed me and put me on adderall 20mg.

Ever since then, my pulling/picking has gotten ridiculous. I pick everyday without fail, at least 1 hours sometimes 6+.

I think I might need to see someone. But I don't want to stop the adderall because I have never felt more "right". I am finally doing well at work, and as a wife and mom.
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Old 01-07-09, 04:24 AM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

I had a friend in high school who used to do this, with therapy and hat wearing she managed to learn to control it. Took years though, poor thing.
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Old 01-07-09, 08:25 AM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

I do the scalp picking thing too! It's out of control, and I'm worried I'm going to get an infection. ??????? Why do I LOVE IT so?





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Old 01-07-09, 08:46 AM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

Oh man, I'm the same. I'll pick my face, back, scalp and pick the hairs in my nose. I'll do it without thinking...bloody annoying (no pun intended).
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Old 01-07-09, 11:21 AM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

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Originally Posted by Anon82 View Post
And that my obsession was that I was creeped out by the roots of the hair with their strange bulb-shape and wanted to pluck them off of the hair shaft by running them through my nails/teeth?? I mean, it really felt WRONG to have them growing out of that particular patch of my head! It was like I was the only one on the planet who knew they didn't belong there, and I just had to get them out of my head. Unfortunately, my actions were met with ridicule and bullying tactics, which only made it worse.
That's a huge part of it for me, too - the roots. I don't run it through my teeth, but I study them... I don't find them creepy, I'm fascinated by them.

And when I have a pulling-fest, I gather all the chunks together and twirl the roots together(now that's weird!) and I end up with what looks like a large lock of hair. What's kind of unsettling is how I pull very, very large chunks out, to the point that there's a lump... It's crazy.

I've actually gotten a lot better with the pulling within the past couple of weeks. I went all out before that and now I have to style my hair differently to cover the bald spots... LOL.

It's amazing to see how many others there are with almost identical symptoms as me. Thank you guys for repsonding, I really do appreciate it!
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Old 01-08-09, 09:00 PM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

OMGosh.... I'm trying to quit doing this too!

I want to grow my hair long and this summer, I had actually improved. Now, one side is shorter than the other

I look at them too. If there is a split, I want to find another one. I think I'm going to have a bigger problem once I start turning gray.

I just increased my effexor because of hair pulling. I don't really see my situation improving at all.
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Old 01-30-09, 05:17 PM
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Re: Pulling hair out, picking at scalp

it doesnt matter what i am focusing on or doing i am constantly eityher picking my scalp or pulling my hair. i am not literally pulling it out of my head but i seem to be under so much stress lately or something or the sort the if i constantly run my fingers through my hair some allways comes out. and the scalp picking its like im trying to pick off every peice of dead sckin there is. which is aweful cause it jsut leads me to obsessing about soemthing else. looking like i have dandruff. i obsess over that whole area so much because im working towards being a hair stylist and its the only thing in life i really care about ... other then my bf ofcourse
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