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    Chewing on things?
    avatar
    An_267499 posted:
    I'm not really sure if this would go under eating disorder, or mental disorder, but since it involves chewing, I've decided to put it here.

    I'm a 22 year old woman who, since age 9 or so, has been chewing on my hair.
    My family has tried all sorts of things to get me to stop. We've tried putting gross-tasting things in my hair, we've tried tying it back, cutting it short, verbal reminders, things like that. My friends and I personally have tried smacking, slapping, more verbal reminders, and so on. I have even tried substituting my hair for other things like toothbrushes, pacifiers, various foods, gum, sunflower seeds, yet more often than not, I end up with hair in my mouth as well as a lump of chewy pink sugar.

    It's something I do subconsciously, and I normally don't notice I'm doing it until hours later. I don't rip my hair out and eat it, but I pull it around my head and chew, like someone might chew a toothpick. Sometimes, I'll just hold the hair between my lips, get it moist and suck the moisture back out again.

    I'm very aware of how strange this is, and I'm not even sure what made me start. I really miss having long hair, but the longer my hair, the worse it is because I end up chewing on hair in the back of my head, not just the front. This also is an issue because I dye my hair, which tastes gross the first few days, but impulse drives me to continue anyway until the dye is literally sucked out of my hair. Obviously, I'm concerned.

    I'm not too worried about hairballs, since I'm not actively consuming my hair, and when I do swallow some, I notice it pass right through. But it's embarrassing when I have to explain to new friends that if they see me do that, they need to tell me, because I'm not always aware that I'm doing it. And often times, I could realize it, and stop myself, nad them five minutes later, I'm chewing again.

    By preoccupying my mouth though, such as by eating or chewing on other things like plastic or rubber bands, I usually don't reach for my hair. However, I don't really want to walk around all day with a pacifier, bottle cap, or rubberband sticking out of my mouth.

    Part of my theory as to why I chew on my hair, is the texture. As a child, I also used to chew on paintbrush bristles because I liked how soft they were, and how they felt "crunching" between my teeth.

    I've done a little research, and found that there's conditions like Pica and Trichophogia, that almost fit what I've been doing, except I don't eat the hair or items. I just chew. When I'm tired of chewing, I spit it out and set it aside for later. Later, usually being 5 or 10 minutes from then.

    Is there a specific, proper name for this, and is there something I can do to permanently stop?
     
    avatar
    editor_morgan responded:
    Hi there and thanks for posting,

    It says here that chewing and eating hair is one of the symptoms of trichotillomania, an impulse control disorder. It seems like chewing your hair is an impulse that you are having a hard time controlling, which is characteristic of trichotillomania.

    WebMD Community Moderators are unable to give medical advice and/or provide a diagnosis, so I highly suggest that you seek treatment from a mental health professional. I think that it will be life changing for you to finally address not only the symptoms (your impulsive need to chew on your hair and other items) but to also address the underlying issue behind all of this. You owe it to yourself to finally get some relief from this.

    We care about you and we are here for you. Please be sure to come back and give us an update ((hugs)).
     
    avatar
    mazdad replied to editor_morgan's response:
    ocp cbt


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