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Trichotillomania is a disorder that causes an uncontrollable urge to pull or pick at the hair on one's scalp, lashes, brows, and elsewhere on the body. Many people with trichotillomania do other repetitive movements as well, such as eating hair (trichophagia), biting nails, and cracking joints. Though researchers are unsure of the exact causes, some experts believe the disorder is associated with other mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Research has uncovered some successful behavioral and psychoactive treatments for trichotillomania.

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1. Signs and Symptoms

Trichotillomania is typically self-diagnosable, with many people first noticing the urges and behaviors around the age of 12. Visible signs include redness and bald patches. Chronic hair-pulling also causes pain in the hands and fingers from the repetitive motion of plucking. Many people with trichotillomania also experience stomach pain. Hair in the gastrointestinal tract is undigestible and can collect in large masses — trichobezoars — that obstruct the bowel and require surgical removal.

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