Eating Hair Could Lead to Emergency Surgery

by Abby Leora Rohrer


My granddaughter is 4 years old and I believe she started to pull out and eating her hair from the time she was about 2 years old. She is very bright and loving and such a sweet child that everybody loves.

Three weeks ago she had an operation to remove a hair ball the size of an egg from her stomach. Her parents and myself would greatly appreciate any help you can give to heal her of this dreadful addiction.

I anxiously look forward to your response."



As harmless as it may seem, a child eating their hair can lead to serious digestive issues. There is one situation where it may be worthwhile and necessary to try medication for hair pulling child; if your child is eating her hair. If so, you should immediately take her to her doctor. It is not digestible and after eating hair for long periods of time, the undigested hair might eventually develop into a “trichobezoar,” a hairball, which could ultimately require emergency surgery.

Eating hair is not all that uncommon. reports that:

"Some researchers have found that nearly 20% of pullers eat their hair, often times chewing off and swallowing the root ends. Called trichophagy, eating hair can lead to it being lodged between the teeth and more seriously to large accumulations of retained hairs in the stomach and digestive tract called trichobezoars (hairballs).

Symptoms of trichobezoars include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes blood and/or visible hairs in the stool. Trichobezoars can also cause foul breath, poor appetite, constipation, diarrhea, excessive gas, bowel obstruction, and even bowel perforation. Liver and pancreas functions can be adversely altered by eating hair. Sometimes a physician can feel a trichobezoar by gently pushing in the mid or left upper area of a patient's abdomen. Trichobezoars can be diagnosed by using special upper gastrointestinal X-rays, looking into the stomach with an endoscope, or using ultrasound. Surgical removal is the most common treatment."

If you are opposed to hair pulling medication because because of the potential risks and lack of concrete results, you may wish to get a read a copy of my book, "Why Won't My Child Stop Hair Pulling?"   It will teach you a great deal about core reasons by many children begin hair pulling and go on to become long-term hair pullers.  Whether you read it or not, please remain aware and watch for any signs that your child is eating her hair.  You'll want to pay close attention for stomach ache's and any of the other symptom's listed in the quote above.

If you’d like more help to help your child stop hair pulling you can visit my HairPullingChild web site which discusses my book, Why Won't My Child Stop Hair Pulling?   It's a great place to begin. It is also available from this website and can be purchased right now using this order link >> Why Won't My Child Stop Hair Pulling?