Trichotillomania is considered an impulse control disorder characterized by the constant and uncontrollable urge to pull out or twist one's hair until it comes out or breaks off. In individuals with severe cases of trichotillomania, eyelashes and eyebrows may even be pulled out. If you find yourself plucking out your eyelashes, there are a few things that you can do to stop on your own. Keeping your hands busy, relaxing, and coating your eyelashes with a slippery substance may help. For more severe cases, seeing a mental health professional may be necessary to stop pulling eyelashes out.
The first step that must be taken, according to mental health experts, is to realize that you have a problem and recognize when you want to start pulling eyelashes out. While you may be able to do this on your own, sometimes it helps to inform family and friends of your problem. When they notice you starting to play with or pull out your eyelashes, they can inform you and maybe even tell you to stop. Some people who have a problem with pulling eyelashes out find it helpful to keep a journal or log, writing down every time they feel the urge to pull.
Once this urge is recognized or pointed out to you, you can then stop yourself. Do something else instead of pulling eyelashes. Keeping your hands busy during periods of inactivity can often keep you from pulling at your eyelashes. Some trichotillomania patients find that hobbies such as knitting, drawing, or origami keep their hands busy enough to help beat the disorder. When nothing else seems to work, squeezing a stress ball can do wonders.
Many times, trichotillomania is caused by stress. Relaxation techniques can help stop the urge to pull your hair out, literally. Meditation, yoga, and certain breathing exercises are all considered to be good relaxation techniques. In a pinch, you can go for a walk, take a hot bubble bath, or partake in some other activity that relaxes you.
Another tip is coating lashes with a slippery substance, such as petroleum jelly. While you may still have the urge, your lashes will become quite slick, making them harder to grasp and pull out. When using this method to help stop pulling eyelashes out, however, you should be careful because getting the jelly in your eye can possibly cause some damage.
If you are suffering from a severe case of trichotillomania, you may have to seek medical help. Many times, this disorder is accompanied by other mental disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, or self-injury. Cognitive behavior therapy, especially habit reversal training, is considered to be very successful in patients with these types of disorders. During this treatment, a therapist will help the patient recognize the impulse and triggers associated with his bad habit and instruct him on how to redirect that impulse or avoid the triggers. This therapy may also be combined with certain medications, including some antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.