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57 Ways to Stop Hair Pulling and Why These Ways
Might Not Work...for You

by Abby Leora Rohrer


I recently asked some adult hair pulling students to compile a list of ways they have tried over the years to end their trichotillomania.  After just a handful had replied, I had quite a lengthy list.

This list of "ways to stop hair pulling" appears at the end of this article. When you review it, you may be shocked.  How can people who have tried so long and hard, using so many ways to free themselves from hair pulling still be wracked with so much suffering?  You may find yourself saying, “Well, then . . . there MUST NOT be a cure for trichotillomania...if people have tried so many ways to end hair pulling and were unsuccessful."

I ask you to wait for just a moment and to finish reading this article before making that assessment.  

My experience is that hair pulling is the result of a highly-sensitive personality coupled with repeated emotional wounding. In my last article, you learned that a very high percentage of hair pulling adults and parents of hair pulling children and teens report being “highly sensitive". People who are born highly-sensitive are more prone to wounding and trauma by things that non-sensitives may not find even remotely upsetting or offensive. Very quickly this wounding and trauma can lead them to feel even more highly-sensitive.

The cycle can repeat over and over again leaving the person, often a child or teen, to feel a painful sense of extreme frustration, anger, sadness or fragility. And in turn, to seek solace in a behavior such as hair pulling, which offers 24/7 relief, never says no, and unlike drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, is completely free of charge and available at any age.

Those who become hair pullers are most often good kids with inner turmoil and a habit of caretaking others.  They do not want you to see their inner suffering.  They do not want to hurt anyone else or to appear weak. They do not want to cope by doing something illegal that could result in being carted off to jail or anything that could cause them to be seen in a negative light.  For them trichotillomania is a perfect solution.  That is, until the ways of its highly addictive nature sets in and the bald spots appear.

Caroline Myss, Ph.D., noted medical intuitive and author of “Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can,” wrote:

Many people come to believe that their lives are only a compilation of psychological wounds, which they feel they can do little to heal. To the suggestion that their wounds can be released, such people often respond, "You don't understand. I have never been the same since that experience. How can I change that now?

After experiencing a traumatic or tragic experience, these people tend to look at every new experience through the LENS OF THE WOUND it inflicted on them.

. . . They seek out a support system that gives them a social comfort zone, one that will remain sympathetic to their woundedness without ever challenging them to put it behind them.

While there may be some truth in this position and certainly our culture promotes a “woundology” mentality, the majority of hair pullers are not sitting around moaning about their problem or trying to find ways to end their trichotillomania. Instead, all over the world they are hiding in shame and secrecy. Most do not remember what led them to pull in the first place and have no idea how they came to struggle with such a cruel, self-harming affliction.

The solution, therefore, is to help trichotillomania sufferers to reconnect with their core underlying truths so that they can remember who they really are underneath the wounding and the pulling and why they are deserve to be free.  The next step is to help them to see past the lie that they are incapable of achieving freedom.  And, then finally, to help them discover and resolve the wounds of the highly-sensitive parts that are patiently waiting inside them for healing and release.

This is the work of becoming Pull-Free, At Last!

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In no particular order, here is the list of ways to stop hair pulling and end trichotillomania that hairpullers I've interviewed have tried or used:

  1. Brute force
  2. Willpower
  3. Medication, SSRI’s, mood stabilizers, anti-anxieties, etc.
  4. Psychiatry
  5. Psychotherapy
  6. Cognitive behavior therapy (squeezing balls, steering wheel, rubber band punishment)
  7. Nunn’s competing reaction (hold onto something and do not let go for several minutes)
  8. Hypnosis
  9. Prayer
  10. Meditation
  11. Keeping chart and count of each hair pulled
  12. Felt feelings when pulling
  13. Turning it over to God, going to church and focusing on God
  14. Reading the Bible
  15. Journaling
  16. Singing
  17. Biofeedback
  18. Talking to and confiding in others
  19. Setting goals/milestones
  20. Accepting trich
  21. Online support group
  22. Research
  23. Avoiding stressful situations
  24. Avoiding tv, reading books, talking on the phone, computer use
  25. Cover head with hat, scarves, bandana, sleeping with a hat, hairpins, barrettes
  26. Keeping hands constantly busy  (palm pilot games, balls, knitting, cross stitch, needlepoint, other crafts, squishy toys)
  27. Shaved head
  28. Wearing gloves, mittens, bandaids on fingers, false fingernails
  29. Read books about trich
  30. Support groups
  31. 12 step groups
  32. Self-hynotherapy cd
  33. Naturopathic physicians
  34. Special diets
  35. Switched from contacts to glasses
  36. Other trich solution website
  37. Moisturizer, keep fingers slick with lotion, vaseline on lashes
  38. Hiding the tweezers
  39. Wigs
  40. Crying
  41. Self-Help books and tapes
  42. Coloring hair, keeping hair wet, leave-in conditioners, different hair products
  43. Covered over the mirrors, do not look into mirrors
  44. Connecting with positive people
  45. Don’t go to bed until sleepy
  46. Slow breathing
  47. Sit on hands, keep hands away from face
  48. Chew gum
  49. Tell myself the damage consequences of pulling
  50. Wear false eyelashes, especially at night and sleep in them
  51. Kept hair short
  52. Make & keep regular hair appointments with beautician. If too much damage, won't want to go, but have to keep appointment.
  53. Caffeine reduction
  54. Make a pact with self. If I don't pull, I CAN _____. if I do pull, can't do/go, etc.
  55. Move to another room and do anything to occupy hands
  56. Wore beaded bracelets and tried to touch those instead of pulling
  57. Pull on string or wool

If you’re a hair pulling woman, you may wish to research TrichotillomaniaFree Women’s University where I teach the deeper lessons of how to stop your self-judgment and hair pulling for good.

If you’d like more help to stop hair pulling you can visit my 123TrichotillomaniaFree web site which discusses my book, What's Wrong With Pulling My Hair Out? It's a great place to begin. It is also available from this website and can be purchased right now using this order link >> What's Wrong With Pulling My Hair Out?

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? 

If you’re an adult male hair puller or a woman hair puller without internet access who is ready to commit to your freedom, you may wish to consider the Pull-Free, At Last! System available at www.PullFreeAtLast.com