My daughter has been plucking out her eyebrows and lashes

Michelle - posted on 11/08/2011 ( 18 moms have responded )

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Its been a few months now. She is seeing a therapist and dermatologist. I am wondering if anyone has ever gone through(trichotillomania) this and any advice besides playing with clay to keep her hands busy. How long did it last and what solution worked that best for them? Any products on the market to help the hair grow back? THanks for your time.

Micelle

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Lynn - posted on 11/10/2011

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All I can say is that I did that for several years through junior high, and into high school. I pulled out my eyelashes, mostly. I had a scab on the back of my neck that I picked a lot, and also my pubic area when I got older. I was very lonely and depressed at that time, and my parents didn't care and never even asked why I did it. I had no idea any one else did that until I saw it on Oprah. Some classmates used to ask why I had gaps in my eyelashes, and I was so embarassed! I think you're already doing a lot of things to help your daughter, by taking her to a therapist and being aware of it. At least she knows she's not the only one who does that, like I thought I was. I think talking to her about what's bothering her would help, because that is the cause of it. I would try to get her into social situations, like inviting her friends/classmates over for a holiday party, neighborhood block party, get her involved in sports, classes through the city, YMCA, something to boost her self-esteem and self-confidence. It helped me when I joined the school swim team, made some friends, and became more outgoing. I did eventually stop doing it on my own, but I would have stopped sooner if anyone had cared to talk to me about it.

I would always do it at night, while I was in bed, but I wonder if maybe something to keep my hands busy would have helped. You're probably going to think this is a really weird suggestion, and I have no idea what her therapist would say about it. One thing that helped me to not pluck hairs that were visible, was to pull out my leg hairs with tweezers. Nobody cares if you have those or not! It helped me. Please people, don't slam me for saying that - I'm just talking from my own experience because I've been there. I hope your daughter gets the help she needs and stops doing it. Good luck to you both.

Kathy - posted on 11/09/2011

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I suffer from trichotillomania myself. I didn't get it as a child, I developed it as an adult during a stressful time of my life. I've found that a couple of my big "triggers" are stress, and caffeine. I go through periods where I hardly pull, and then other periods where I pull so much that if I don't pull, I get very anxious and am not pleasant to be around. I haven't researched things that help hair grow back, it's more just waiting for a time when my pulling phase is in a lull and letting it grow back on its own. I also have long bangs to hide my (lack of) eyebrows. I do suggest things to keep your daughter's hands busy. If you go to the Trichotillomania Learning Center site, www.trich.org, you'll find lots of resources to help you and your daughter thorugh this.

Jodi - posted on 11/10/2011

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I have done the same thing too since I was in the second grade. I pull my lashes out too. I am 37 now and a mom of three boys. Mine is definitely triggered by stress, but not always. A lot of times, I'm doing it before I even realize it. Just don't make it a big issue about it to her. It was a huge deal at first when I started, my parents didn't know what to do. They took me to a dr. who said I was just doing it for attention. I was punished with spankings, grounding, anything, but nothing ever worked for me. It affected my self esteem so much, that's why I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. I have been to drs, been on meds, even had one dr tell me to wrap my hands in ace bandages to keep from being able to pull, nothing ever worked for me. I hope it's just a phase she's going through and I hope she gets better. Just make sure you reassure her that their is nothing wrong with her and everyone has things they deal with but it does not make them wierd or unlikeable. Just be as upbeat and helpful as you can. Maybe if a big deal isn't made about it it will pass. I wish you and your daughter the best! She is not alone!

Kate CP - posted on 11/08/2011

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I had a childhood friend who pulled out all her eyelashes at one point...I would give her a cat's cradle and teach her all the different knots. Or teach her how to knit or crochet. That will keep her hands busy AND she'll learn how to make something neat.

Corina - posted on 09/14/2012

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I'm 17 (not a mom though.) and I go through the same thing. I have ADHD and medication caused me to pull at my eyebrows. It was because of stress too. The fact that I no longer had any eyebrows cause me even MORE stress and now it bothers me. I shaved them off and it does bother me with the stubble and I don't know what to do. I started drawing them in and with that I have tan lines of my eyebrows on my face. Now I look like a Clown. If you find a solution I'd love to know because I feel so gross looking like this.

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Susan - posted on 12/19/2014

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Just reading this for the first time. My 11 year old daughter started doing the same thing after having ADHD meds. Took her off the meds. She has no eye lashes and eyebrows. now she is on her finger nails. She has not been diagnosed but saw a therapist that we didn't like. It started when she was stress over school but now she does all the time. I would love to know if the 14 week therapy helped????

Michelle - posted on 08/28/2013

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thank you all soooooo much for your support and words of advice. sorry it has taken me this long to respond. I could not figure out how to get back to this page much less even respond. It has been 2 years now and after all this time I finally went to a support group and found out about the University of Penn has a study for free for therapy specially geared toward trich. She will go for 14 weeks and after the 14 weeks if she is still having issues with it she will continue to go for free. also if she does good and then has another episode in the future she can go back for what they call "a boost". I am more then ecstatic especially cause the U of Penn is known world wide for certain types of therapy. They invented Cognitive Therapy used in all therapy offices. The type of therapy they use for trick is called Reverse Habit Behavior. It has cognitive therapy incorporated into it. I can't say enough about how excited I am cause now I have hope and hope to see a light at the end of this tunnel. There is a website trich.org where you can find a specialist in your area. If you can't find one I am more then happy to help you. Please spread the word as far as this type of therapy and I will keep all of you posted as to her progress... Thanks again for all your heart felt support :) Michelle

Maria - posted on 02/17/2012

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my 10 year old son is also going through the same thing. I thank you all for the good advice...

Kathy - posted on 11/13/2011

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As a trich sufferer, I suggest not following Joy's advise of shaving off the eyebrows. As they grow back in, the feeling of them coming back in will be a BIGGER trigger for your child, and she'll start plucking the stubble. I always find myself plucking my stubble first, because it grows in thicker, and looks out of place with the longer hairs.

Sue - posted on 11/12/2011

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Hi Michelle, My son is age 9 and has started pulling too. He pulled out all his eye lashes, and then he started pulling out the hair on the back of his head. I gave him one of those silver chains to wear around his neck (like kids used to put a key on. They've got the little tiny silver beads). He also has a shorter one for his beltloop and he fiddles with them in class or will run his fingers down them to count the "beads". Anyway, our doctor said his pulling was caused from anxiety and that although his Concerta was helping his ADHD, it was causing enough anxiety for this behavior. We have just switched medicine (on day 5 now) and I haven't seen nearly as much pulling on the new medicine (Methylin). It may not be all the medicine's fault though--I think he's facing stressors at school, as he still has problems with his ADHD, but we shall see in the next week or so how he is doing. You are so right--in keeping their fingers busy! I would try the web address that somebody mentioned before my post. I know I am going to check it out right now! Good luck to you and your daughter. Our "babies" are so precious, I know that it's hard to watch them do this to themselves.

Joy - posted on 11/10/2011

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I have noticed that most of these compulsive behaviors are some sort of grooming behavior that has gone awry. I used to bite my nails when I was younger. Then I moved on to biting the skin on the sides of the nail. Now I chew the insides of my cheek and lip. Any little loose piece needs to come off. And of course chewing makes more loose pieces. Viscous cycle. How to cure: first I clipped all the white off my nail till it was smooth and there wasn't anything to get ahold of, then if I tried the skin on the side, I clipped that too. The clippers really helped! They made it smooth. But I always found something else to fixate on. I cannot clip the inside of my cheek. At least it's not visible. I suggest you shave her eyebrows off for awhile. See if she stops or just focuses on something else.

Jennifer - posted on 11/10/2011

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My first question would be how old is your daughter? A couple of things come to mind, as far as ways to keep her hands busy, but some are kind of dependant upon age. They make some 'spinner' rings, something she can twist around her fingers while in school. If she's of a younger school age, you could buy some gel pencil grips, or eraser tips in different styles, something she can push and pinch and pull while in school, while not being distracting to others and allowing herself to act out the *motion* of pulling her hair without actually doing it. It would just be a process of trying to have focus her attention on something other than her eyebrows... which is not easy, but perhaps is possible with work. I'm betting if you were to check out a science museum or website, you could find some really neat things to keep her hands busy that we may not otherwise think up, like bracelets, and trinket toys, etc.

Trichotillomania is typically a response to stress, has anything changed recently for her? And do you notice her pulling more at home or at school or in other places?
As for hair regrowth products, I'm not sure of anything that works for eyebrows... I would check with her dermatologist. Depending on her age, perhaps you could teach her to use an eyebrow pencil if it's making her self-conscious? As long as the pulling is somewhat under control, so as she wouldnt smear it across her face, or perhaps a liquid liner, thats a little more fudgeproof.

I wish you and your daughter the best, please know you are not alone in this! I hope she is able to overcome this soon! :) Good luck to you both!

Patrice - posted on 11/09/2011

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My son has done this but only during very stressful times. The hair grows back pretty fast once they stop so I wouldn't worry about products to make them grow back and it would be pointless to make it grow back if she hasn't stopped. There are different things that you can buy to help distract them from doing it. On the website I went to there were spinner rings but a very simple thing they had on there were silly bands. They give the person something to fidget with instead of pulling their hair out. My sister gave my son some pencil toppers that are plastic but they look like nuts and bolts so he can twist them while he's doing his work at school instead of pulling on his eyebrows and eyelashes. I would first try the silly bands since they are easy to get and try to teach her to mess with them by popping them lightly so she doesn't hurt herself when she gets the urge to mess with her eyelashes/brows. If they don't help just google spinner rings and try those. I hope everything works out for you all.

Diane - posted on 11/09/2011

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Oh honey, my daughter started doing the dame around the age 12.....it was such a long road for us until someone explained to her it is like chewing fingernails etc. She is 25 and a hero in my eyes! The best advice I can give is to not let this define who she is as a person....let her know it isn't about her...and try not to tell her to stop..so hard to do. I wish you and your beautiful daughter well.
Diane

Jennifer - posted on 11/09/2011

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How old is she? My daughter is still going through this as well- she started about a year ago at age 12. It's definitely a stress response for her. We've implemented a reward system for her- she can stop herself if she is focused and thinking about it, but mostly doesnt know when she's doing it. She's also seeing a therapist and has been prescribed some meds for ADD. They have helped with other behaviors but not this one as much.

Tinker1987 - posted on 11/08/2011

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well they make certain mascra's for growth of the lashes not sure about eyebrows. im sure you can find the mascara with all the other makeup product

Elizabeth - posted on 11/08/2011

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Would pipe cleaners help to keep her hands occupied? That has to be tough trying to help your daughter through that.

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