International Journal of Trichology International Journal of Trichology
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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 228-230  

Managing a case of trichotillomania with trichobezoar

Department of Psychiatry and Drug De-addiction, PGIMER Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication11-Apr-2014

Correspondence Address:
Ankur Sachdeva
Department of Psychiatry and Drug De-addiction, PGIMER Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Park Street, New Delhi - 110 001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-7753.130426

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How to cite this article:
Sachdeva A. Managing a case of trichotillomania with trichobezoar. Int J Trichol 2013;5:228-30

How to cite this URL:
Sachdeva A. Managing a case of trichotillomania with trichobezoar. Int J Trichol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Feb 5];5:228-30. Available from: https://www.ijtrichology.com/text.asp?2013/5/4/228/130426


Trichotillomania derives its meaning from the Greek: Trich (hair), till (en) (to pull) and mania ("an abnormal love for a specific object, place, or action"). [1] It is a compulsive urge to pull out one's own hair leading to noticeable hair loss leading to social or functional impairment. Trichotillomania is often complicated by trichobezoar, resulting from trichophagia that consists of ingesting the pulled hairs. Associated medical complications, misconceptions and ignorance about the disorder make treatment difficult. Further, lack of co-ordination and clarity of management options between different treating departments delay the clinical care pathway for the patient. Here, we report various challenges encountered in the management of a case of trichobezoar with trichotillomania in a 9-year-old female child.

A 9-year-old Hindu girl, resident of a nuclear family of middle socio-economic status presented with the complaints of 2 years duration characterized by compulsive pulling of hair from the scalp and ingesting them [Figure 1]. She had consulted a pediatrician and a dermatologist previously and was treated as a case of alopecia areata as a mother would conceal history due to attached stigma. Due to severe pain abdomen after 2 years of onset of illness, she was referred to a surgeon where detailed investigations revealed trichobezoar and the child had to be operated [Figure 2]. After recovery, she was referred to the psychiatry department, was diagnosed with trichotillomania and treated with Cap. Fluoxetine 40 mg (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). An aggressive treatment plan comprising of pharmacological and psychotherapeutic interventions was initiated. Antipsychotic augmentation (risperidone 2 mg) was initiated after 12 weeks of treatment with inadequate response on the Massachusetts General Hospital hair-pulling scale. [2] Psychotherapeutic approaches (habit reversal training, social skills training, supportive psychotherapy, art therapy and play therapy) were also instituted alongside. The child was successfully managed and was followed-up for a period of 1 year. No recurrence occurred. The challenges encountered in the management were frequent breaks in compliance due to various psychosocial stressors (lack of social support, father's death and financial constraints), ignorance about psychiatric illnesses, rigid socio-cultural beliefs and intermittent consultation with faith healers.
Figure 1: Hair loss due to trichotillomania

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Figure 2: Post-operative abdominal scar

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Hair-pulling behaviors lie along a continuum. In severe form, it can lead to the formation of trichobezoar resulting from the ingestion of pulled hairs. The incidence of trichobezoar in trichotillomania is unclear, although it has ranged from none to as high as 37.5% of the patients. [3],[4] These can be life-threatening by causing gastrointestinal tract obstruction with ulcerations and perforation. Given that endoscopic removal of trichobezoar is possible at times, an early diagnosis is advantageous. However, the diagnosis is often delayed due to misconceptions and ignorance about the disorder, lack of co-ordination and clarity of management options between different treating departments.

Given the limited available clinical research evidence, no formal treatment algorithm for trichotillomania can be formulated. Dual treatment, using pharmacotherapy (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or clomipramine) and psychotherapy (habit reversal training) is more effective than monotherapy. [5] Various psychosocial factors which precipitate and perpetuate the pathology of trichotillomania should be taken into consideration and dealt with appropriately. The importance and severity of the medical complications of trichotillomania should not be underestimated. Awareness of the disorder along with greater inter-departmental collaboration would help in early diagnosis and appropriate management.

   Acknowledgments Top

Dr. Mina Chandra, Chief Medical Officer (Department of Psychiatry and Drug De-addiction, PGIMER-Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, India) for her guidance, support and help in preparation of the manuscript.

   References Top

1.Hallopeau H. Alopecie par grattage (trichomanie ou trichotillomanie). Ann Dermatol Syphiligr 1989;10:440-1.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Keuthen NJ, O'Sullivan RL, Ricciardi JN, Shera D, Savage CR, Borgmann AS, et al. The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Hairpulling Scale: 1. Development and factor analyses. Psychother Psychosom 1995;64:141-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Christenson GA, Mansueto CS. Trichotillomania: Descriptive statistics and phenomenology. In: Stein DJ, Christenson GA, Hollander E, editors. Trichotillomania. Washington: American Psychiatric Press; 1999. p. 1-41.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Bhatia MS, Singhal PK, Rastogi V, Dhar NK, Nigam VR, Taneja SB. Clinical profile of trichotillomania. J Indian Med Assoc 1991;89:137-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Dougherty DD, Loh R, Jenike MA, Keuthen NJ. Single modality versus dual modality treatment for trichotillomania: Sertraline, behavioral therapy, or both? J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67:1086-92.  Back to cited text no. 5


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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