Effects of Pulling Out Hair, Pulling Eyelashes Out
The compulsive act of pulling eyelashes out or pulling out hair baffles most people, often including those who perform the act. This behavior, known as trichotillomania (What is trichotillomania?), has received increasing attention as psychiatric experts seek to improve their understanding of the human brain. However, people with the disorder are concerned not only about the causes of trichotillomania, but also about the effects of compulsively pulling out eyelashes and hair.
If I Pull Out Eyelashes, Will They Grow Back?
If you pull out eyelashes, the thought, "Will they grow back?" may flash through your mind. It's a valid concern. When a hair falls out, or when you pull it out, nature provides a do-over, of sorts. Your hair grows back most of the time, although it can sometimes take a while. When you repeat the action frequently, however, re-growth to the affected area slows and eventually may cease altogether.
Unfortunately, trichotillomania can lead to a permanent loss of hair, eyelashes or eyebrows -- or whatever body hair a person subjects to this behavior. There are many physical complications that can arise from compulsively pulling out hair. Pulling eyelashes out and pulling out hair frequently leads to infections and skin damage.
Many trichotillomania sufferers also engage in trichophagea, which is the act of chewing on or eating the hair. According to the Trichotillomania Learning Center, "This behavior can range from harmless, when hair roots are nibbled and swallowed, to dangerous when the entire hairs are ingested. The formation of a hairball (trichobezoar) can lead to intestinal blockage and may require surgery. This is a rare but serious condition that can even be fatal if not treated promptly."
Pulling Out Hair Leads to Low Confidence
In addition to the physical effects mentioned, pulling out hair frequently leads to low confidence and emotional distress. The emotional impact of this condition is multi-faceted. First, sufferers question their own motivation, not knowing why they do it. That alone creates doubt in a person. Add to that the visible physical signs of trichotillomania left by the behavior and you have a person who may lose confidence in her appearance and probably avoids social interaction in order to escape detection.
Loss of confidence and social interaction spirals into depression. Illustrating the extremes to which trichotillomania can affect a person's life, Jennifer Raikes, a person who lives with this disorder every day explains, "...I've met hundreds of women and men with trichotillomania. The associated shame has, at times, controlled their lives, impacting decisions both large and small, from whether to venture outside on a windy day to whether to marry."
Pulling Eyelashes Out Does Not Have to End Badly
It does seem like a dire situation, but pulling eyelashes out, or any other body hair, does not have to lead to a life of misery. Although many sufferers have gone untreated for years because of embarrassment or lack of knowledge, modern medicine offers relief for those who seek it.
While there is no cure for trichotillomania, there is hair pulling help available. As an impulse-control disorder, there are specific therapies and medications that can help. Experts usually prescribe a behavior therapy, such as teaching relaxation techniques or cognitive therapy, along with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI antidepressants), which address the brain chemistry imbalance related to this disorder. Patients who follow these therapies usually find some level of relief from their self-destructive urges and can go on to live happier lives.
Last Updated: 18 November 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD