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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Other Names for this Disease
  • Hair-pulling syndrome
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Your Question

How can I find research or treatment studies on trichotillomania? Our teenage daughter has suffered from the condition for many years and we have not found an effective treatment.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

How might trichotillomania be treated?

Behavioral treatment seems to be the most powerful treatment for trichotillomania. Parental involvement is important and should include enough support so that affected children grow well intellectually, physically, and socially. Shaving or clipping hair close to the scalp may be helpful to stop the behavior.[1]

Professional cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is recommended if initial approaches are unsuccessful. CBT typically involves self monitoring (keeping records of the behavior); habit-reversal training; and stimulus control (organizing the environment). CBT is typically effective in highly motivated and compliant patients. The success of therapy may depend on firm understanding of the illness and the cooperation of the family members to help the affected individual comply with treatment. Several courses of CBT may be needed.[1]

No medication has been approved for the treatment of trichotillomania, and medications used have not been consistently effective. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have been utilized but responses to treatment have not been consistent. Fortunately, several recent studies regarding drug therapy for trichotillomania show promise. While drug therapy alone is currently generally not effective, combination therapy and other treatments may be helpful.[1]

More detailed information about current treatment options for trichotillomania is available on Medscape Reference's Web site and can be viewed by clicking here. You may need to register on the Web site, but registration is free.
Last updated: 11/30/2012

Where can I find out about research studies or potential treatments for trichotillomania?

The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. Currently, several clinical trials are identified as either completed, active, or enrolling individuals with trichotillomania. To view these trials, click here. After you click on a study, review its "eligibility" criteria to determine its appropriateness. Use the study’s contact information to learn more. Check this site often for regular updates.

You can also find relevant information about studies regarding treatment of trichotillomania through PubMed, a searchable database of biomedical journal articles. Although not all of the articles are available for free online, most articles listed in PubMed have a summary available. To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library or your local library for interlibrary loan. You can also order articles online through the publisher’s Web site. Click here to view a PubMed search on trichotillomania. Use the "Advanced" search feature or the filters on the left side of the page to narrow your search results.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site has a page for locating libraries in your area that can provide direct access to these journals (print or online). The Web page also describes how you can get these articles through interlibrary loan and Loansome Doc (an NLM document-ordering service). You can access this page at the following link: You can also contact the NLM toll-free at 888-346-3656 to locate libraries in your area.
Last updated: 11/30/2012

How can I learn if there are clinical research studies involving trichotillomania in a specific area? has a feature on its Web site that allows you to view the geographical locations of the studies they have listed. After searching for a condition, click on the "On a Map" tab to view this information. To view a sample search of locations of trials on trichotillomania, click here. Click on the highlighted regions for a more detailed map and scroll down to see the information in list form.
Last updated: 11/30/2012