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Signs of Trichotillomania in Young Children - Look for Bald Spots and Broken Hair from Child Twirling Hair

Updated on January 1, 2012

Pictures of hair twirling, pulling hair out, and bald spots on kids

She twirls the hair around her finger until it's stuck.
She twirls the hair around her finger until it's stuck.
Once her finger is stuck, she pulls her hair out or breaks the hair.
Once her finger is stuck, she pulls her hair out or breaks the hair.
The pulling and hair breaking causes a bald spot
The pulling and hair breaking causes a bald spot
At a distance, other hair covers the spot, but makes her hair look patchy.
At a distance, other hair covers the spot, but makes her hair look patchy.
She does most of the damage to her hair while sleeping, so now we put a hat on her for treatment.
She does most of the damage to her hair while sleeping, so now we put a hat on her for treatment.
From the front, you can hardly notice her bald spot.
From the front, you can hardly notice her bald spot.

Our daughter is pulling her hair out

Our two year old daughter is pulling her hair out or breaking her hair off which causes bald spots. This may be a disorder called tichotillomania.At night she sucks her thumb and twirls her hair around her finger to soothe herself. She does it when she's tired and when she wants to go to sleep.

While we weren't concerned about the thumb sucking, the damage that she is doing to her hair has caused us a bit of concern. We tried putting mits on her hand, but she pulled those off. The best way we have found to prevent her from damaging her hair and creating large bald spots is by putting a hat on her at night. See the picture of her sleeping with her hat. This prevents her from twirling her hair while she sleeps.

We took her to the pediatrician, and they said it wasn't that uncommon in young kids to twirl their hair around their finger. Most kids will grow out of it, especially if they are young when they start. This is where we learned a bit about the disorder of pulling hair out.

As our daughter twirls her hair around her finger, occasionally, her finger will get stuck. Once it's stuck, this is where she pulls and breaks the hair. The twirling can also cause knots in her hair that can get caught and become wrapped around her finger. This causes her finger to get stuck. Sometimes, the hair is wrapped so tightly around her finger tip it turns blue. When this happens at night, she usually starts crying and calls for us to get her finger out of her hair. Usually, we can pull her hair over the finger and get it out, but I can see it getting so tight that we'll have to use scissors to get her finger out of her hair.

We've talked to her a bit about pulling her hair out and have shown her the bald spot. She has a vanity streak, so we can see her wanting to stop so that her hair looks pretty. As a parent, this is something we will continue to watch. I should note, that we've been told that if your daughter twirls her hair, chews on it, or does other things with it, it doesn't mean that they have tichotillomania, although, these behaviors are associated with the disorder.

If you have concern for your children, take them to the doctor for a diagnosis.

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    • Paul Edmondson profile image
      Author

      Paul Edmondson 7 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      We started putting bad tasting stuff on my daughters thumb to get her to stop sucking it. One of the interesting side effects is that she has stopped twirling her hair when she doesn't suck her thumb. We stopped putting the stuff on her thumb and she started sucking it again and at the same time she started twirling her hair again and damaging it. For our daughter hair twirling and thumb sucking seem to be highly linked.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

      Paul, Usually children do seem to outgrow bad habits but I can understand your concern. The hat seems like a good idea. I know I would be concerned also but I've seen many children do these things. The vanity streak may be the thing that saves the day. I sure hope it resolves quickly.

    • profile image

      BRENDAKSHELTON@AO 8 years ago

      My granddaugther did this also. She was a twin and her other sister didn't do this. The Social Servives said it was stress. Her mother was a drug addict. I personally believe it's a learned behaviour and just reminding her not to she soon stopped.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you fro sharing you anxiety. I tis amaing what can happen with children. Wish you all the best.

    • lakeerieartists profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      The weird thing is that our other daughter does have a small bald spot about a half inch in diameter that she got as a young child about the same age but from a totally different reason. But she has enough hair that it gets covered up and no one can see it.

    • Paul Edmondson profile image
      Author

      Paul Edmondson 8 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      @lakeerieartists - It's good to know that they don't have permanent bald spots.

    • lakeerieartists profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Paul, that is concerning. Hopefully, it is a habit instead. My daughter used to suck her thumb and twirl her hair around her finger at that age too, but she grew out of both, and has tons of hair now.

    • cblack profile image

      cblack 8 years ago from a beach somewhere

      I am sorry to hear this about your daughter Paul and I hope she gets better soon. I myself used to chew on my hair a lot when I was in middle and high school. I think it was just a nervous tick of mine and once your start doing it, it is just kind of addictive like biting your nails. I grew out of it after a few years though. Best of luck to you and your family.

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