To raise awareness of hair pulling disorder Trichotillomania (TTM), International No-Pulling Week has been re-launched to shed light on the debilitating disorder and we’re happy to join the cause writes Ayesha Muttucumaru…
This week is officially International No-Pulling Week – a campaign designed to raise awareness of hair pulling condition Trichotillomania (TTM).
Affecting approximately 110 million people worldwide, the campaign has been designed to shed light on this very common and often, very well concealed hair loss disorder and the many physical and far-reaching emotional and psychological effects that can often leave sufferers feeling isolated and alone. Launched by hair loss and GTG expert Lucinda Ellery and founder of charity Trichotillomania Learning Centre (TLC) Christina Pearson, the campaign has now gone international in its reach with a variety of global charities and spokespeople such as MP Esther McVey and Professor Jon Grant from Chicago University all on board to help spread the word.
According to Lucinda, “I have thousands and thousands of TTM clients spanning across my UK and LA studios and the aim for International No-Pulling Week has always been to help raise awareness and offer solutions for sufferers. I want to stop women feeling alone.” She adds, “I like to call it ‘self-calming’ as it is the lack of conscious that makes it so difficult through will power alone. So many young women are affected by TTM – but no one talks about it. By showing how common it is reaches out to women suffering out there.”
The condition can take many forms ranging from eyelash pulling, skin picking and nail biting, all often developed as a way to cope with stress and anxiety. With more than 840,000 women affected in the UK alone, celebrities such as Olivia Munn and Sam Faiers have also spoken out about their battles with the condition, both having admitted to pulling at their eyelashes in the past.
We have all been guilty of playing with our hair every now and then, whether it be in front of the TV at home or in front of the computer screen at work, but when does it escalate into something more harmful? According to Trichologist and GTG Expert Philip Kingsley , “It is normally a benign and pleasant habit, but something triggers it to become serious, leading to Trichotillomania. Not only is it more common in women, but it occurs mostly around puberty and menopause.” He adds, “Trichotillomania, a definite self-inflicted hair loss, occurs when the twiddling gradually reaches the pulling stage, whereby the hairs are repeatedly pulled out one by one, eventually causing a thinning or bald patch that can cover quite large areas. It’s the hairs which cause momentary pain when pulled that are fully pulled out – so they test each hair first by pulling to see which ones might hurt most, then tug it out. The satisfaction of this encourages them to pull another one out, and so on. It can go one for years because the hair from the pulled follicle grows back – at least at first.”
As with any behavioural pattern, it can be a difficult habit to break. According to Philip, “Occasionally, psychological therapy is needed. There are other ways that require a lot of time and patience too. One way is to wear thick gloves during temptation times, particularly at night, so that the hair cannot be gripped. Another is to cut it very short so that is it almost impossible to get hold of, or cover the hair with a slippery cream or oil, wear a scarf over the head, or a combination of two or more of these solutions. It’s a matter of interrupting the habit. Sometimes playing with worry beads takes the mind off playing with the hair.”
For those who have suffered thinning hair, patchy hair loss or total hair loss as a result of the disorder, Lucinda also offers a range of hair replacement and hair extension treatments that are all designed to help sufferers on the road to recovery. Available at her London and Manchester salons, Lucinda and her team offer either Medi Connections (targeted hair replacement to boost volume), Interlace System (using a gauze platform with hair attached) or Intralace Free Wear System (where mesh is integrated into existing hair) to help combat the effects of this self-esteem zapping condition.
The bottom line if you’re a sufferer? Don’t despair. As Philip comments, “The good news is that hair can grow back.” There is help at hand and with campaigns like this taking the lead in spreading awareness, there is no need to feel alone. It is a far more common problem than people think.
For details on how to book in for an appointment with Lucinda or a member of her team, visit www.lucindaellery.com
For details on how to book in at one of Philip Kingsley’s clinics, visit www.philipkingsley.co.uk for further information.