The problem led come the death of a 16-year-old girl in the joined Kingdom. Below are several of the symptoms and also treatments because that trichophagia.

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Rapunzel may be a fictional character with long, flowing locks.

But Rapunzel syndrome, a rarely psychiatric problem where human being eat their own hair, is every too real — and also potentially deadly.

Earlier this month, a 16-year-old college student in the unified Kingdom died after ingesting she hair over number of years.

The behavior, brought about by a clinical condition, eventually developed an infected hairball in she stomach.

Ultimately, a to explode ulcer shut under the girl’s an essential organs.

This syndrome is regarded hair-pulling disorder, likewise known together trichotillomania.

The problem mainly influence girls over the age of 12, Dr. Katharine Phillips, a professor of psychiatry and also human behavior at the Warren Alpert clinical School of Brown university who also has a personal psychiatry exercise in new York City, said cg-tower.com.

And about 10 to 20 percent the those individuals end up eating their hair, a condition known together trichophagia.

But the medical complications deserve to be deadly, Phillips added.

Over time, a hairball deserve to seriously damage the human body by bring about ulcers or fatally prevent the intestinal tract.

Hair isn’t biodegradable, Dr. Runjhun Misra, an inner medicine specialist in Oakland, California, said cg-tower.com.

For example, as soon as Egyptian mummies space discovered, their hair is generally intact. Likewise, hair balls can sit in the intestines, gaining bigger and also leading to obstruction, Misra noted.

“There’s a sluggish buildup that hair over time,” she said. “You wouldn’t also be mindful of it.”


Hair pulling fits right into a more comprehensive basket the body-focused repetitive behaviors, such as lip chewing and also nail biting, say experts.

With the hair-pulling version, yes a obsession to pull the end body hair of every kinds.

The ailment is provided in the handbook supplied by psychiatrists, the Diagnostic and Statistical hands-on of psychological Disorders, as being part of obsessive-compulsive disorders.

To qualify together a disorder, the habits must cause distress and impair thinking, Phillips said. And there’s a broad variety of severity.

No one really knows what exactly causes Rapunzel syndrome, though. And people no even conscious that lock eating their hair, says Phillips.

Also, the syndrome is shrouded in shame and silence. Since of this, it can go undetected because that years.


Suzanne Mouton-Odum, manager of Psychology Houston and a clinical assistant professor at Baylor university of Medicine, has also run right into the syndrome.

One patient, a 16-year-old girl, to be pulling her hair and eating it in ~ night, she told cg-tower.com.

The girl’s parents were noticing that her hair was disappearing however couldn’t discover it anywhere.

The girl ended up acquiring a cradle test. Certain enough, she to be pulling out and also eating her hair, said Mouton-Odum, as a means to sleep better.

“Pulling hair is self-soothing,” she explained. “Most civilization never tell anyone. Lock think they’re the only human on earth who does this.”


Since Rapunzel syndrome is mostly invisible come others, ideas can be tough to come by.

But some of the physical tip-offs together the syndrome worsens include abdominal pain, nausea, and also vomiting, follow to studies.

Earlier hints may include wearing scarves or wigs come hide hair lose or having actually bald patches.

Parents are frequently the an initial ones to notice that something’s amiss. They shouldn’t be frustrated or panicked about it, though, stated Mouton-Odum.

“Sometimes, it’s harder because that the parents 보다 the kids,” she added. “But they have to accept the it’s a means to soothing the worried system.”

It’s likewise not a kind of self-mutilation, she emphasized.

Behavioral treatments like habit-reversal cultivate can additionally be effective, claimed Phillips.

Awareness training, where patients monitor their hair pulling, notice triggers, and also write castle down, is one part of the treatment.

“Sometimes this is enough to minimize the behavior,” she said.

Oftentimes, just letting children know the they have the right to die indigenous ingesting hair stops it, claims Mouton-Odum.

Next, patients deserve to use stimulus control, wherein they try to stop behaviors by staying clear of triggers. So if someone is pulling your hair when watching a boring show, claims Phillips, that can be avoided.

“Boredom is a trigger for part people,” she said.

Competitive-response training, where world do physically not compatible actions favor making a fist or squeezing a ball instead of pulling the end hair, can also work, claimed Phillips.

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“Rapunzel syndrome can cause a low high quality of life,” she says. “But we have actually treatments that have the right to help.”

The TLC foundation offers sources for body-focused repetitive actions on that is website.