Hair Pulling, Skin Picking, Nail Biting

Trichotillomania is a type of impulse control disorder in which people pull out hairs to satisfy an urge or tension.

People recognize the sensory qualities of hair and how it helps produce calm when they pull enough to produce a more hypnotic, semi-trance like state. Once they realize how quickly their emotional state of anxiety, stress, or boredom become alleviated, the hair pulling becomes a very addictive, self soothing behavior that can feel impossible to break.

Hair pulling (aka trichotillomania) and skin picking (excoriation disorder) are behaviors, which are not known or understood by most doctors. For many years, these behaviors were categorized as symptoms of OCD. However, not all people who pull or pick report obsessive thoughts linked to OCD or physical tension linked to other disorders to be the trigger of their repetitive behaviors. Some people report that they don’t pull or pick under stress, rather they perform these behaviors under low stress situations like watching TV or using their computers or mobile phones during down times.

Whether its during times of overwhelming stimuli or during low stimuli down times, people report a trance-like state when they pull or pick, which rules out OCD as a cause. Thus, experts and researchers call them impulse control disorders, often grouped with conditions such as compulsive gambling, binge eating and substance abuse.

Needless to say, implementing a cookie cutter approach in treating hair pulling and skin picking will yield little or no improvement in the people treated by non experts. Each person has a different motivation behind the pulling or picking and treatment needs to help people who engage in this body-focused repetitive behavior to take control over their urges.

Dr. Shinar has been treating hair pulling and skin picking patients for over twenty years. He has a 98% success rate by helping people acquire more adaptive tools to deal with unpleasant emotional states. He helps sufferers to pay close attention to the triggers (thoughts, feelings, impulses, urges, images) that precede the behavior, collecting every detail about the behaviors, and formulate treatment plans accordingly. And most importantly, Dr. Shinar recognizes the sensitivity of these disorders and provides the utmost compassion and proficiency in treating his patients.

“For me, the most rewarding result of my two decades treating hair pullers and skin pickers, is being witness to new hair growth, clearer skin, and a vastly improved confidence and self image in my patients.” --- Dr. Shinar

Scroll to Top