How to Stop Eating Hair: That was a question I hadn’t really thought much about until I read an article on Trichophagia, or a hair eating condition.
I eat my hair!
While I was researching my own trichotillomania treatment and the Trich Stop System for curing hair pulling I realized that eating my hair was actually not just a random effect of hair pulling. Eating my hair was actually a certified medical condition in and of itself.
I understood my hair pulling was a problem, but I hadn’t even thought about eating my hair. I didn’t realize that eating your own hair is often a part of the trichotillomania hair pulling condition. I would always pull my eyelashes and eyebrows, study the ends, gnaw on the little white knob a bit and then eat my hair. It took me quite a while to realize that sensation of having something in my throat all the time was actually the eyelashes and eyebrows that had become stuck on the way down. Sometimes I was eating so much of my hair that it would get stuck in my throat and tickle for days.
I often wondered ‘Why am I eating my hair?’ But I hadn’t realized that these actions are actions that sometimes accompany Trichotillomania sufferers in their hair pulling condition. When I found this out, I realized that this was a part of the ritual of Trichotillomania, and one that I would need to break in order to be cured of hair pulling.
So, what exactly is Trichophagia?
Trichophagia (1) is defined as ‘the habit of eating hair, a form of pica, or the persistent craving and compulsive eating of nonfood substances. It is an ‘Eating Hair Disorder’; a compulsive disorder where the individual eats, chews and swallows his or her own hair. It is not the same as chewing on the ends of one’s hair. The hair is chewed and ingested.
While some trichotillomania sufferers just pull out their hair and do not eat their own hair, most sufferers from trichophagia start out as a hair puller and then develop eating hair disorder as their trichotillomania gets more serious.
Ritual is an important part of trichophagia (as it is for trichotillomania), and involves touching the root bulb to the lips, tasting the hair, chewing and swallowing it. The hair that is eaten can be body hair, hair from the head, eyelashes, eyebrows and even pubic hair. Trichophagia, or hair eating, is present throughout the world, in all ethnicities and social backgrounds.
What is ‘Rapunzel Syndrome’?
Rapunzel Syndrome (2) is when a tail of hair that has been ingested extends into the intestine. While most hair remains in the stomach, it can move down into the intestines and cause complications.
Is Trichophagia, or hair eating, dangerous?
Trichophagia can be dangerous in some cases, due to creating what is known as ‘trichobezoars’ or human hair balls in the intestinal track. This can cause pain, indigestion and even digestive troubles. While normally the hair remains in the stomach, hair moving into the intestines can prove to be fatal is not caught in time. For some hair eaters there may be the need for medication or even surgery to remove the hair that has collected in the stomach and intestines.
Why am I eating my hair?
You are eating your hair because you have a condition known as Trichophagia. Trichophagia is like trichotillomania. Many people mistakenly think that hair disorders, like hair pulling and eating hair disorder are nervous habits. Those close to the sufferer may say ‘Just stop eating hair!’. While this sounds simple enough, as anyone who suffers from trich disorders knows, like with hair pulling, you can’t just ‘stop eating hair’. While no one is completely sure of the causes of hair eating, Trichophagia is similar to other obsessive compulsive disorders. Theories for the causes of hair eating (as well as hair pulling) include:
- psychoanalytic (unconscious trauma from the past or childhood)
- biological (genetic predisposition from a parent or relative with obsessive compulsive disorders)
- behavioral (a child imitates a parent or relative)
It’s important to identify why you might be eating hair in order to find the best treatment for hair eating. In any case hair eating disorder is very similar to trichotillomania and this why many trich sufferers also suffer from trichophagia. It is most likely that this eating hair disorder is caused by chemical imbalances.
Treatments can include drugs, but for long lasting and healthier results psychotherapy, behavioral modification therapy and natural cures for hair eating should be tried. Unlike hair pulling, in serious cases, those suffering from Eating Hair Disorder must be careful to watch in case the build up of hair becomes problematic. If the ingested hair becomes a problem then medical intervention is necessary. Therefore if you realize ‘I am eating my hair’ you should seek medical advice to avoid the build up of trichobezoars (hair balls), which can even cause death in serious cases.
How to stop eating hair
The most serious part and difficult thing to stop eating hair for me was the fact that this was all part of my intricate hair pulling condition. I needed to break the hair pulling and hair eating habit together, So I made sure to use my journaling and self-awareness work, along with my Trich Stop Hairgrowth Oil to modify my behavior by stroking (my eyelashes and eyebrows, as well as my lips when I wanted to eat the hair), rather than plucking and eating. By identifying this as a part of my condition I was able to integrate it into my hair pulling treatment.
So if you are thinking ‘Why do I eat my hair?’, realize that you have a legitimate medical condition known as Trichophagia’ and start treating it with cognitive behavior therapy (journaling, self-awareness, etc), natural products that will help you build new and different neural connections and kindness to yourself.
(2) Rapunzel Syndrome: A Comprehensive Review of an Unusual Case of Trichobezoar – US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Hello. I’m a fifth grader and I have the habit of pulling my hair out and eating it. I’ve already tried what you suggested before and it didn’t help me too much. I am very scared. My mom thinks I have anxiety and I’m taking the wrong medicine. Please help!!! I am so worried. I really need help. I cry every night and I feel like I need medical help. I don’t know what to do.
Hello Misty and thank you for having the courage to write your comment. I know that it’s frustrating, and frightening and stressful. Trich is a real condition, but it is possible to get control of it. You definitely need to find some support. I’m going to send you a guide to give to your parents that will help explain your condition. Also – do you have some support that you can speak with at school (a counselor or a close teacher)?
I’m 13 years old :,( and I have this to ive had it since I was 3 and I can’t stop and nobody notices because it’s not as extreme because I’ll pull my eyebrows then stop so they grow again while they do I pull out my leg hairs arm hairs eyelashes and the switch so it’s never noticeable but I can’t stop :((
Please tell an adult. Someone that you trust. You need some support. I know it is scary, but it is a true condition and nothing to be ashamed of. You can send them to the site to get more information so they will know how to help you.
have the habit of pulling my hair out and eating it. i am eating my hairs from last 2 3 years i am fed up now i want to stop eating my own hair because of eating my hairs i hv lost my half of the hairs my hairs are now very thin
Hello. I completely understand. You are not alone, there are loads of us out there that do this. Have you tried cognitive behavior therapy for trichotillomania? Or hypnotherapy for trichotillomania? You should try many different methods, or a combination to find what works for you. Check out our guide for a collection of trichotillomania treatments.
I have the same problem pulling my hair and eating hair can you please help me to get out off this thing please And I m 17 years old.
have you tried cognitive behavior therapy for trichotillomania? That can give you results that last and you can do it at home. Check out our Trich Stop manual that has instructions.
I do this and I need help but im too ashamed to tell my mother about it and am terrified of telling anyone else a month ago I didn’t even know that there was a word for this. I also eat inedible stuff besides hair like plastic, paper, clay, and fabric is this the same? Am I a freak? Do you have any advice?? Btw im 13 if thats important
Hello. You really should think about telling your parents or an adult close to you. Even someone like a guidance counselor at school. I know it’s embarrassing, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s an honest medical condition and you should treat it as one. You are still young and can get help. I will send you our Trich Stop parents guide that will help you explain it to your parents.
Omgosh finally after nearly 60 years I’ve found out that it’s actually a thing I’ve been doing it since I was about 5, my mum would scold me and embarrass me in front of my cousins and everyone, so I managed to only do it when I think nobody is watching or on the sly I still do it like that to this day, I’m really feeling quite strange at this very moment! I’ve tried to hide it all my life and never told anyone, my hubby just walked in and I asked him has he ever noticed that I chew my hair and he said no… I told him my story and he just said oh it’s just another name they keep coming up with and not to worry about it. Aaaargh! I’ve always wanted long hair so I would only chew the sides and I d have a long rats tail down my back which I cut off sometimes. Anyway I feel like crap now but I’ll be right. Thanks for this maybe I can still have long hair lol..if there’s actually help out there.
Don’t feel like crap! Feel liberated. It really is a medical condition (and not just another name they come up with), and there are a LOT of us out here! And yes, there is help and you can have long hair. :-)…Have a look around at the other blog posts and other websites for more information.
I’m 41 and have had this condition since I was 6 and I’m still struggling with it all the time. It’s hard to stop sometimes.
Yes, it’s so hard to stop. But with some methods such as awareness training, mindfulness, journaling, cognitive behavior therapy, etc you can get control. Have a look at the blog posts for more information about how do put these practices into place. All the best, Amy
Hi my name is Luna, and i started eating my hair back in kindergarten-1st grade. At first id take clumps of hair and just play w/ them and id tie them and stuff, but i stopped doing that for a couple years and now im legitimately eating my hair. I chew it so its not a strand but its in tiny pieces, idk how to describe it. how do i stop?
Wow, I can’t believe this site exists it is amazing to know I’m not alone or weird. I’ve had this since I was about 10 (now 29) and I definitely notice I do it more when I’m stressed. I would love to stop as I worry about my intestines and also my hairline. When I was doing my university finals I had a bald patch on the side of my head and it was so embarrassing.
Do you journal when you feel the impulse to pull hair? Thank you so much
I’m 16 years old. I have Trich, but whenever I pull my hair out from my scalp, I play with it in my hands and break it into little pieces of hair. I sometimes bit my hair in my mouth and break the hair strands with my teeth. Any idea if this is a part of Trich of similar to eating hair? I used to swallow my hair when I was younger but then my Trich stopped. It’s a year ago but I’m not consuming my hair. The only solution to my Trich previously was cutting my hair into a bob, but I don’t feel comfortable transforming my hair that short. Please can someone help me
Hello. Please talk to your parents or an adult you trust. You should consider having some professional therapy and supplementing it with some of the methods you’ll see mentioned on this website.
please help me. I am 19 years old. i eat hair all the time. the top of my head is bald. However, I can’t stop myself. I am so ashamed. I do not know what to do. I’m sorry if my English is bad. I need help. I live in Turkey, these products are too expensive for me. I am so sorry. I’m tired of crying every night. I am just 19. Please. Please. I’m so afraid of people judging me
Please know that you are not alone, and that it’s a true medical condition. Have a look at the different blog posts to get an idea of some methods you can use to begin to get control, such as behavior modification therapy, etc. Consider asking for help or speaking with a therapist. Reach out to an adult that you trust to help you. You can work through this, but you need some support.
Hi, my name is Kennedy. I’m 21 years old and I pull my hair and eat it. I can’t remember what age I started I just know I was really young, maybe 5 or 6. I learned it from my mother, but she never consumed her hair she would just pick her dead end or just put the strand of hair in her mouth so I thought she was eating it.. When I was 18 we discussed it and she confirmed she didn’t. I want to seek medical help but I’m scared. I’m scared I consumed so much hair that I’ll have to have surgery to remove it. I’m scared it will kill me or cause sever medical damage. Most of the time I don’t notice I do it but when I do notice I try to stop. It’s really hard. It’s weird I’ll find the thickest strand, I’ll feel for it (trying to find the thickest strand), I’ll put the strand in my mouth play with it, then fold it up and swallow it or even roll it up. Sometimes I don’t pull it out and just chew it to where I can’t reach anymore. I do it while I’m driving also one of my fears is it causing me to wreck bc I’m looking for the thickest strand. Keep in mind I have really thick hair. My hair is never even bc I have this really short layer, I’ll rarely get my hair cut bc of it being uneven. I’m more embarrassed especially when people notice or even call me out telling me to stop.