Help for Children and Teens with Trichotillomania and Hair Pulling
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When It May Be Important to Try Medication for a Hair Pulling Child

by Abby Leora Rohrer

If your child swallows her hair, medication may be a worthwhile and necessary step to take, but only if you can find a medicine that stops her from pulling.  Of course, as you've already read, it may not be easy to find a medication that will do this. 

 “My granddaughter is 4 years old and I believe she started to pull out her hair and eat it from the time she was about 2 years old.  She is very bright and loving and such a sweet child that everybody loves.  Three weeks ago she had an operation to remove a hair ball the size of an egg from her stomach.”
--Sandra, grandmother

 “I have a 2 year old daughter who has been pulling.  I videotaped her this weekend as she was falling asleep and now see that she’s ingesting as well.  I have contacted her doctor to discuss this. 

“My 8 year old son has also had pulling issues but no ingestion, his are more during awake times.  I am very interested because I want to get to the root of the problem and help my kids.  I am a counselor by profession.”

If you discover that your child is eating her hair, immediately talk to her doctor.  Hair is not digestible and she could develop a “trichobezoar,” (or hairball), which ultimately could require surgery.


“Some researchers have found that nearly 20% of hair pullers eat their hair or chew off and swallow the root ends.  Called trichophagy, it can lead to hair being lodged between the teeth and more seriously to large accumulations of retained hairs in the stomach and digestive tract called trichobezoars (hairballs).

“Symptoms of trichobezoars include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes blood and/or visible hairs in the stool.  Trichobezoars can also cause foul breath, poor appetite, constipation, diarrhea, excessive gas, bowel obstruction, and even bowel perforation. Liver and pancreas functions can be adversely altered.  Sometimes a physician can feel a trichobezoar by gently pushing in the mid or left upper area of a patient's abdomen.  Trichobezoars can be diagnosed by using special upper gastrointestinal X-rays, looking into the stomach with an endoscope, or using ultrasound.  Surgical removal is the most common treatment.”

Here are links to additional information regarding trichobezoars and trichophagia:


National Museum of Health and Medicine

The New England Journal of Medicine

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