What can help trichotillomania?

It's the holiday season so for some of us, it's also the "trichy" season. Here are some extra tips to help you manage trich! 

1. Bandaids/finger covers/Guiatar Fingertip protector

I love these! I included these finger tip covers with the first 50 pre-orders and saw customers using them as an applicator to help apply the product. Didn't expect that! 

2. QuitThat App / NoMore App

I think it's important to be aware of things that may trigger you such as tv, driving or studying. Then you can get prepared before those times with finger tip covers and Prohibere. Having a game plan before can really help mitigate a possible pulling episode. Tracking helps to solidify your goal of pulling less or altogether. Joining a trich group on facebook might help you find a buddy and see other ways people have manaegd their trich too. 

3. Awareness devices for unconscious pullers such as Keen from Habitaware. Here is their site; Habitaware.com. It was created by a former trichster. Some researchers believe pullers can be categorized as conscious and subconscious. For people who don't even know they are doing it, this is a good option to look at. 

4. Probiotics

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Maybe you are thinking that gut health has nothing to do with trichotillomania. However, medicine in general has shifted more towards considering the gut on psychology;

"Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are introduced into the gastrointestinal tract. Interestingly, gut bacteria are able to synthesize the same neurotransmitters that are found in the brain. These gut neurotransmitters have the same structure and are produced via the same biosynthetic pathway as those in the brain. Gut bacteria are able to communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve, a phenomenon known as the “gut-brain connection.” 

Check out the article on the Gut Health and TTM (Trich) connection Here

I know people who said they saw results in 4-6 weeks after starting them. Gut health is more important that you realize! 

Additionally, many people with trich have reported that NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) has helped reduce their urges. However, this double blind study on it showed there was no benefit. There have been successful case studies so it may be worth trying if you are still struggling. 

5. Wigs/Toppers 

One thing people hate about wigs is that they fear people will know they are wearing one. So what! You can happily pull from a wig all day long while your hair grows beneath. If someone asks if you are wearing a wig, you can squint in confusion and respond with "why are you asking me this?". This should shift the focus away from you to why they are prying into your hair choices. Alternatively you can own it like Kylie Jenner who has a closet in her house devoted to wigs. Brag about your wig! Why not? It can be a style choice. 

Also, many trichsters love Toppik for its ability to build fibers into thinning places to hide "works in progress".

6. Finding the right salon!

I have avoided salons my whole life because it's too embaressing to explain to someone that you have a hair pulling disorder. Sometimes people who work in salons don't even know how to respond. So it can be painful......unless you go to a salon that specializes in trich!

Here is a list that specialize in trich services! 

7. Lots of people have asked me if there is anything to help with eye lash pulling. I think putting cold water on your face as soon as you start can abate the urges quickly. I keep vitamin e oil in the fridge for this reason. It also coats the lashes in oil which makes them harder to pull and it is also good for growth. I have also used eye glasses as barriers. If you don't need glasses, get fake ones! 

Additionally, I know mascara can be a trigger for people who pull lashes so investing in cleaning wipes might help too. Getting soothing aloe make-up remover might help when the urge is high. Then add the oil, glasses, and finger tips and you just avoided a bald patch in the lashes! In some ways, it helps to run a "good strong defense" for lashes and brows because you don't have as much room for error. You start pulling from your scalp, 5-10 hairs later you might not make a dent, but 10 eye lashes pulled can show damage. 

Also, I know lashes pullers feel like they can't wear mascara but there is a vibrating mascara by Lano that might tickle your urges and work for you. 

Anyways, until there is a cure, we have to do our best to manage the best we can. Please let me know if you think I should add anything else to this list! Good luck everyone! <3

 

Emily Kight
Texas!

 It was going to cost a lot of money to ship our microbatch of Prohibere to Philly so we just drove down to the Texas to pick it up instead. 44 hours of driving out on the open road! 

Emily Kight
Trich: Just a Habit or Motor Inhibition impairment?

I've been reading lots of academic articles about trich for awhile. In academic writing, the text can become very technical and heavy. So, I thought I might share some of my own thoughts on the interesting ideas brought up in the science of trichotillomania. 

Take a look at this article; Motor Inhibition and Cognitive Flexibility in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Trichotillomania

They tested one trich group, and one OCD group against "healthy comparison subjects" on the computerized Stop-Signal Task, "subjects respond rapidly to left- or right-facing arrows on a computer screen with corresponding motor responses and attempt to inhibit responses when an auditory “stop signal” sounds. With a tracking algorithm, this task estimates the time taken to internally suppress prepotent motor responses (stop-signal reaction time)." 

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This study provides data that there is a statistically significant difference between you (person with trich) being able to easily stop a task and someone without trich being able to stop doing the task in the study. How much worse were people with trich at stopping than the healthy comparison group?

The Trichotillomania group versus healthy comparison group: p<0.001. This is a small p value and we can reject the idea that the groups are the same. There is less than a 0.1% probability of a "false positive" or in other words extremely unlikely chance the trich people are the same as the healthy comparisons. In short, we are different! 

One of the interesting conclusions they drew: "Impairment of motor inhibition correlated significantly with symptom severity in trichotillomania." This suggest the more you pull hair out, the more you would perform worse at the test stop task. This makes sense intuitively as the worse you are at stopping, the more you pull because.... you just aren't good at stopping! Duh! At my worst, I felt like I couldn't bring my hand down. I felt like my hands were making the calls. So reading this study makes me feel like I wasn't just having "behavioral" problems that I had complete power to stop this whole time.  "Symptom severity in trichotillomania (Massachusetts General Hospital Hairpulling Scale scores) correlated significantly with stop-signal reaction times (r=0.564, p<0.02)". Again, this is a small p value showing that the worse the trich is, the worse the person was at the test stop task. 

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Maybe trich is simply a habit for others. Or maybe a habit is actually a type of motor inhibition impairment? Maybe what starts off as a habit, can transition into the involuntary area. When it crosses that line, perhaps it becomes more of a motor inhibition impairment and that's why it can be so hard to stop. 

 

 

Emily Kight
What each new step brings

I can't believe all the people who have helped me bring this year long project so close to completion! It's been a big challenge for me to reach people with trich to get their feedback.  It is amazing how supportive strangers are and how healing it is to connect with so many people with this issue. I have worked for one year figuring out the formulation, pitching to events to raise funds for a small product run, working on the manufacturing and distribution logistics, as well as designing an IRB study.  Everyone who tried it said it was helpful which was really rewarding to hear. I can't wait to get more feedback and work on more projects for trich! This project all started one year ago with just an idea and a competition submission. 

This was the first competition I ever competed in. I have never been "public" about my trich before.  446 ideas were submitted to this competition. I was pretty excited I was a finalist. However, I am not a public speaker so getting prepared to talk about my trich in front of lots of strangers and judges was......terrifying to me. 

This was the first competition I ever competed in. I have never been "public" about my trich before.  446 ideas were submitted to this competition. I was pretty excited I was a finalist. However, I am not a public speaker so getting prepared to talk about my trich in front of lots of strangers and judges was......terrifying to me. 

I won 2nd place at the IEI contest here! Couldn't believe it! I never thought of myself as an "innovator" or "inventor". 

I won 2nd place at the IEI contest here! Couldn't believe it! I never thought of myself as an "innovator" or "inventor". 

Back in December/Jan 2016 when I made my first small batch of product in the lab! An exciting time because I never made a hair product before. Thankfully an R&D chemist who makes skin care products for a big company gave me lots of advice on how to create a formula and how to make a small amount to test. I feel really lucky and appreciative she helped me. Looking back, it would have been almost impossible doing this part by myself. Thank you such much! 

Back in December/Jan 2016 when I made my first small batch of product in the lab! An exciting time because I never made a hair product before. Thankfully an R&D chemist who makes skin care products for a big company gave me lots of advice on how to create a formula and how to make a small amount to test. I feel really lucky and appreciative she helped me. Looking back, it would have been almost impossible doing this part by myself. Thank you such much! 

So what happened when I created my product and started using it? First of all, I had to keep using the product if I started pulling. You have to carry it with you and apply it when you find yourself starting to pull. After 2 months, the rhythmic pulling pattern doesn't feel as strong. I got used to "applying" a sensation in place of pulling in order to create a sensation.  I started opting for the new sensation and I opted to get in front of the movement before it began to take hold. My brain started "looking" for the hair conditioner.  The Prohibere sensation replaced the pulling sensation. Now the pattern of pulling feels like a faint song instead of a blaring call begging me to pull. 

I was able to give some samples to a few others with trich and they liked it. Some people said it was helpful for their headaches and migraines too. My next step was submitting to the BYOBB Competition to get more funding! This was a more intensive process than the IEI because I had to create a business plan (which again I had no experience in). I knew nothing about manufacturing or "profit margins". I had to become a business woman in 3 months. 

I won second place and got $10,000 to put toward my product.

I won second place and got $10,000 to put toward my product.

My next stop was finding manufacturers to work with my budget of $10,000. I called a lot of manufacturers and most just didn't work with small batch sizes which was all I could afford. I even had one account executive tell me I wouldn't be ale to get this project off the ground for less than $100,000. Eventually I found a place that would do minimum quantities that I could actually afford. So I paid my deposits and waited. I found a journalist interested in the story.  Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that stories get sensationalized to be newsworthy.  Even asking a journalist to change words like "cure" or "freak" doesn't guarantee they will. I hope people can overlook the sensationalism for the bigger picture here. 

Million dollar question: So are you done pulling? Are you "cured"?

Me: I wouldn't say that. That same rhythmic song could start playing louder and my body could start pulling again.  However, I know what it feels like for the song to be faint which is a brand new feeling.  I can turn my back on that "pull signal" and get further away from it. 

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Everyone is unique and with trich it is no different.  Maybe there are some individuals for whom this product will not be useful.  Instead of waiting for the perfect silver bullet in 20-30 years, I'll settle for some help until then. I'd love a cure. Since trich isn't life threatening and can be hidden, the research into a trich "cure" has been lackluster. I hope more people decide to create new methods and products to manage trich so other people can feel some relief and hope! All the different tools out there can help. 

 I have purchased these thumbs covers for my first 50 pre-orders as a thank you for the support of this project. The thumb covers can be used to help rub the Prohibere product into the scalp (and also just be worn as barriers to pulling). 

 I have purchased these thumbs covers for my first 50 pre-orders as a thank you for the support of this project. The thumb covers can be used to help rub the Prohibere product into the scalp (and also just be worn as barriers to pulling). 

Maybe a combination of tools will get someone's pulling down more than 50% or even 90%. Maybe that person will "fall off the wagon" one day, but even just 50% over all is good progress. Just 50% could be the difference between having a thin spot and a full on bald spot.  Anytime you re-enforce the pathway in the brain to stop pulling, the stronger the new non-pull pathway becomes, like a worn trail in the forrest.

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Emily Kight