Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder wherein people feel the irresistible and recurrent urge to pull out hair from their own eyebrows, scalp and other body parts. The constant pulling out of own hair leaves bald spots, usually on the scalp. The condition interferes with one's ability to work and socialize. People with bald patches typically seek ways to cover them up.

According to psychologist Toby Rutner, trichotillomania is a forerunner of obsessive compulsive behavior. Often prompted by stress, the person end up pulling out hair from eyelashes, eyebrows and other parts of the body, especially the scalp.

A woman from Winnipeg named Tenesha Lawson launched a website called to help the thousands of people who suffer from trichotillomania. Lawson herself battled and lived with the disorder since she was 11 years old.

Lawson was only diagnosed with the condition only four years ago. Before that, she didn't know she was suffering from an impulse control disorder. Her own parents assumed it was just an "icky habit."

Trichotillomania patient Maria Funk shared how she pulled out so much hair the night before her wedding. Funk also described the feelings of isolation she experienced.

"No one understands it, because there's no one in my family that had it. So I couldn't relate to anyone," said Funk.

Lawson's website serves as an online ground for patients to share their own stories and find the support they need from each other.

"Four years ago, I thought I was the only one who pulled their own hair. Thankfully, I turned to the internet to find others just like me. I was shocked how much reading other people's stories helped me," Lawson wrote on the website.

Lawson added that most people who have trichotillomania are not aware that is a diagnosable disorder. She aims to spread awareness through her website.

According to Mayo Clinic, trichotillomania symptoms include increased tension before actually pulling out the hair or when you try to resist the overwhelming urge. Patients also experience as sense of relief or pleasure after pulling out the hair.

Trichotillomania patients often have bald patches on the scalp or thinning hair areas. People with undiagnosed cases could also employ several patterns or rituals that complement the hair pulling activity. They can also bite, chew, eat and play with the pulled our hair by rubbing it across the face or lips.

Photo: Emergency Brake | Flickr

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