A staggering 4 per cent of the UK population will suffer at some point in their lives from a compulsive hair pulling condition called Trichotillomania (or TTM), and yet the vast majority of us have never even heard of it.
To give some idea of scale, a GP is likely to have at least 10 TTM patients on a typical list of 1,000 patients and every single teacher working in British schools will, at some point, have a child with the condition in their classroom – that figure really is quite staggering when you consider that it’s not a condition that is hugely in the public eye.
Latest figures estimate that around 110 million people worldwide suffer from TTM and it affects more people than bulimia. With International No Pulling Week we want to raise awareness of the condition – and the help available for it – and ensure that people know that, if they think they are suffering from it, they are certainly not alone and there is help out there.
Who tends to suffer from it?
It is a highly addictive behaviour and, although it doesn’t make the sufferer ill in a physical way, it has very wide reaching emotional and social consequences, some of which never quite heal.
Through International No Pulling Week, I want to make people aware of this very common, yet much hidden and rarely talked about disorder and to highlight that there is help available out there, whether through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or through hair loss management and replacement systems.
Why is it a condition that is rarely mentioned?
TTM is often done sub-consciously, with 'pullers' suddenly finding themselves with a pile of hair in their hand and no recollection of pulling it. It is this lack of conscious thought that makes it so difficult for TTM sufferers to stop through their own willpower alone and they often need to seek external help in order to control their habit.
In order to do this, they first have to admit there is a problem - this is the hardest part and is one of the main reasons why I have launched International No Pulling Week which is to raise the profile of the condition and ensure people realise it is an issue and that if they need help, they are certainly not alone.
Sadly there is no cure; there are no magic pills, lotions or potions that can be applied to treat TTM. It is all about understanding the condition and learning to manage it so you can get on with your life and ensure it doesn’t overwhelm you.
What should you do if you think you might have a problem?
If anyone reading this thinks they might suffer from TTM or knows someone who needs help or advice, please visit www.lucindaellery-hairloss.co.uk.