Share your Trichotillomania experience for clinical study

Trichotillomania is a condition where sufferers are compelled to tear their hair out

Trichotillomania is a condition where sufferers are compelled to tear their hair out and it can affect four in every 100 people.

The psychological condition leaves people unable to stop themselves carrying out a particular action. They can experience an intense urge to pull their hair out and growing tension until they do so.

Alexandra Kelly, a psychologist in clinical training, is now looking to explore the condition as part of a doctorate and is asking sufferers to tell of their experience in confidence.

She said: "It is a poorly understood, secretive, distressing and life-limiting condition affecting particularly women, with common sights of pulling scalp, eye lashes, eyebrows, pubic hair and other body hair.

"A number of people ingest the pulled hair, which may result in death or require surgical intervention. It is a highly under-reported, under-researched and poorly understood condition

"The two-fold aim of my study is to explore and gain insight into personal experiences of people with trichotillomania.

"I would like to give people an opportunity to share their experience and have their voice heard and, thus, to supplement quantitative studies in the area of trichotillomania.

"Last year, I completed an informal inquiry into 16 adult mental health services across Ireland, which revealed very low numbers of people with trichotillomania presenting to psychology. Some of clinical psychologists approached discussed the complexity of the condition due to its high levels of co-morbidity with other conditions (depression, anxiety, OCD etc.), difficulties in engagement with treatment, and relative treatment ineffectiveness. This highlights the need for further understanding of the condition."

To get involved, contact: or Alexandra Kelly, Psychologist in Clinical Training, Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology, University of Limerick.