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How can I stop pulling my hair out?

Updated: Jul 5

Have you been pulling your hair out or picking your skin repeatedly, when you don't want to? These conditions (trichotillomania and dermatillomania) are common, especially in women. They are believed to be forms of "obsessive compulsive" disorder and are linked to stress and anxiety. Some people I work with tell me that the feeling of pulling out hair or picking skin makes them feel calmer and less anxious. Others can't identify any particular feeling. They just cannot seem to stop doing it. The two most common feelings with the clients I help with these conditions are guilt and shame. Some isolate themselves because they believe others will judge them or laugh at them. Some feel ugly and worthless. Others go to great lengths to conceal bald patches or scars just to function normally in the outside world. Why do we do this to ourselves? Everyone is different so if you are reading this, the reason YOU do it will be different to the reason someone else does it. Self soothing is a common reason given but what UNDERLIES this need? How CAN you stop pulling your hair out? How can you stop picking your skin and spoiling your looks to the point you feel ashamed, embarrassed and unwilling to go out?

It can be a hard problem to fix consciously because the root cause (no pun intended) is subconscious. In other words it is not obvious and likely to be linked to survival. There is an ancient mechanism in the brain that we've had since early human times. It relies on "patterns" embedded into us that help keep us from danger. So, you come face to face with a tiger - you automatically run to safety rather than wondering if you should just in case it happens to be friendly! Compulsive repetitive habits keep on repeating without your full awareness. It makes sense that relaxing, having fun, positive engaging hobbies and rewarding work can help but not all the time. The only REAL way to overcome or manage your hair pulling is to get the right kind of help. Some find Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to be helpful, where you examine your triggers and replace the old habit with a new one (so for example, you notice anxiety and the urge to pull, so you take 5 very deep breaths instead or go for a walk.

CBT may not help you get to the ROOT though (again, pardon the pun). This is where hypnosis and hypnotherapy come in! This type of therapy can open up your awareness, allowing subconscious beliefs and patterns to come to the surface. You can then work toward changing them. Often they may surprise you! Many will have nothing whatsoever to do with hair pulling because this is just a symptom. Some of my clients have had bullying in their past, or toxic relationships. Some have felt disempowered as children. The reason you do it will be different to someone else. No type of therapy is a magic wand. But many people have felt the benefits of a calming, positive empowering therapy like hypnotherapy. If you want to know more, just contact me. You can visit my main website, chat with me, call me on 0773 432 8834 or email

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