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Tue, Oct 2, 01 at 23:18

Has anyone dealt with this in a small child (toddler), specifically the twisting-hair-while-sucking-thumb part of it?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Trichotillomania

My daughter didn't pull her hair out, but when she was young she used to suck the thumb on one hand and twirl her hair around her finger of her other hand. Mostly she did it when she was just getting to sleep (or when she was tired) or in her sleep because she would wake up with knotty twirls in her hair. She stopped both the twirling and the thumb sucking on her own at about 6yrs. of age. True 'trich' is actually an obsessive/compulsive disorder in which the hair is pulled out. I really don't have much knowledge of the disorder itself but your post brought back memories of when she was young and used to do the twisting/sucking thing.

RE: Trichotillomania

My 20-month old obsessively pulls her hair out (not gentle twisting, resulting in it coming out, but grabbing it and jerking it out until she has a dozen hairs in her hands). Then she tends to pop her fingers in her mouth. It is hurting us to watch her, although the pediatrician says its just a phase she'll outgrow. It seems like it should be more serious. She is losing about 50% of her hair by now. I'm seriously thinking of cutting all her hair off!

RE: Trichotillomania

Boy, these posts made me think of my dd's best friend who also suffers from this. She pulled out all the hair on her face to the point where it won't even grow now (she's 20 and hasn't had eyebrows or lashes in 15 years). Heartbreaking to see--she used to have the longest, most beautiful lashes as a small child. If you give this a few months, and don't see the child passing through the 'phase', I'd strongly suggest you look into finding appropriate medical/counselling help. The girl I'm speaking of can't stand to have any hair on her--to the point of even wearing her hair in a VERY SHORT crew cut. She's never outgrown it and my heart breaks when I see her--she's beautiful as she is, but she's so emotionally wound up in this disease--what a shame.

RE: Trichotillomania

Talk to their pediatrician. Basically, you have to decide if and when your child gets access to healthcare (mental and physical) or healthcare consultations (mental and physical) as needed for any symptoms. This is one of the 'you are your child's expert' areas, and it's important to try to be objective about concerning symptoms because earlier recognition and appropriate care can prevent worsening of situations.

If a subject symptom comes up like trichotillomania, (or anything else that gives you concern as a parent) try to consult the pediatrician, or other people who are able to get up to date good information and who can give you confidential advice.

This address has a fact sheet about it, which might be helpful. Generally, if young children need therapeutic counseling, or behavior help it's often good to involve professionals there so that (for the child) everyone's roles are clear. (Their parent shouldn't also try to be their therapist, because young children can get stressed and confused when their parents seem to 'change.')

Their whole index of fact sheets is at this address

Talk to your doctor, and/or her pediatrician about how you can know if it's 'just a phase' or otherwise 'normal' and when you should get more help. If the situation is to where you feel more help is needed, ask for a referral.

if it seems troubling to you, ask your healthcare practitioner about it (and about how you could tell if more help was needed, or how you could be reassured that it was normal)

RE: Trichotillomania

I agree with the post above mine. Don't let this go with just the ped's "she'll grow out of it" assurance if YOU think it's more. I listed to the ped about my oldest DS, his assurances of "he's just being a boy" etc. Now, at 7, after finally going off to specialists on my own, he's been diagnosed with severe sensory integration dysfunction - and after reading tons about it, I can see how he was a textbook case from birth. Don't wait if you have concerns. If I'd pushed harder earlier, DS would be having a much easier time of school right now. Early intervention is always best. Good luck!!!

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