trichotillomania and dreadlocks

“I had literally been ripping hair out of my head in clumps… The condition is called trichotillomania.”

Photo: Knotty Boy Facebook submission
Read this incredible email from Knotty girl Paige T., telling the story of her battle with trichotillomania – compulsively pulling out one’s hair – and her victory over this condition through dreadlocks.


“Come January 7th, my dreadlocks will turn four years old. They have been an amazing experience the entire time through, and I hope to sport them well into the coming decades. I did however think it might be time to share why my dreadlocks are so very special to me.

At about the age of 7 years old, my parents started finding these strange balls of hair hidden in odd places all around the house, and deduced that they were balls of my hair. When they decided to examine my head (I can’t remember now it was so long ago so this could have been pointed out to them by my family hair dresser) they found that behind my ears there were HUGE bald patches, I had literally been ripping hair out of my head in clumps, rolling them into balls and hiding them around the house.

My mother immediately set herself the task of finding out what was going on with me. If you don’t know what I am describing yet, the condition is called trichotillomania – a condition in which the sufferer compulsively pulls out their hair. Our first attempt at controlling my trichotillomania resulted in cutting my hair so short I could not physically grip my hair to pull it out. This was my solution from grade 1 through to 6, but as a young girl constantly getting mistaken for a boy you can imagine the self confidence issues that can build in a person.

Throughout my life, I tried various times to grow out my hair, I was sort of successful – I could control myself enough that I had thin patches but not usually fully bald. Most of the time I would just resort to wearing bandannas or hats, something that would inhibit the pulling, but that was often awkward because my schools or work environments always had some sort of dress code policy in place. I was always given permission, but that lead to having everyone else always asking me why I got to break the rules.

I can’t remember when I started thinking I wanted dreadlocks, but it was a very long time ago. Whenever I asked my rather conservative Albertan mother, the answer was always “No, you can not have dreadlocks!” So at the age of 19, when I was living in residence for university and once more struggling with preventing myself from pulling my own hair I sat down at my laptop and put an order through your very own website for a Dreadlock Starter Kit – and an Emergency Removal Kit in case things turned out horribly, but that kit is still unopened in my bathroom cabinet hiding waaaay in the back. 😀

Once everything started to lock up, I found myself for the first time ever feeling very happy with my own appearance, and as I learned my lock maintenance I even discovered how much palm rolling was identical to the process I had used to make all of those balls of hair twelve or so year prior! I am happy to report that since I started this wonderful journey, I have eliminated my hair pulling and replaced all behaviors with lock maintenance. I still play constantly with my hair, but now instead of resulting in shameful bald patches I get beautiful natty locks!

I know other people with trichotillomania that do not wish to have dreadlocks, it isn’t everyone’s solution, but it is mine, and I love it. I love the way my locks look and I love the confidence I had not felt until I had them.

I would also like to thank Knotty Boy Dreadlocks for making my amazing solution so easily accessible and hope that maybe your company and products will be the liberating solution to others out there suffering from this awkward and embarrassing ailment.

(I would also like to add that when I came home with dreadlocks the first time, my mother informed me that she “didn’t think dreadlocks could look so cute!” on me. So she likes my solution, too.)

Once more, thanks so much, you guys are awesome. :D”

Has locking your own hair been just the solution for overcoming a larger problem? Please send us your story and a photo to to share, or post it below in the Comments, to help encourage and empower the rest of our Knotty family. Every story helps us all know – we are knot alone.



  1. Dawn

    Awww! This is such a great story! I love that this helped the young lady & has given her such confidence & Happiness. What a testimony too from having the help of Knotty Boy’s products. 🙂


  2. holly

    I too have dealt with trichotillomania since I was quite young, I’m 24 now. I’ve been considering dreads recently but I’m concerned about my thin spots. Did you have any problem with that? its mostly on the top of my head, I have a sidecut so its all brushed over and no one can tell..but I feel like those spots would be too short to pull into the dread 🙁

  3. Roxy

    I have suffered with trich for over 30 years. I pull one hair at a time. I also have had dreadlocks in the past and realized that when I wore them I didn’t pull. I am excited to start my dreadlock journey again as a means to help control this OCD and also to cover my bald spots.
    Now when my new hair grows in it will grow into the dread and not get pulled. Anyone who has obsessive hair pulling should consider this as an alternative. It allows you the chance to play with your hair constantly, but in a productive way. Pulling hair out of a dread Is not satisfying. I am happy that I am not the only one who has found this hairstyle better than Prozac!

  4. Anubis

    This piece is very helpful, I will consider dread too and will come back with my testimony once I stop hair pulling.

  5. I’m glad I was able to hear I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. I been pulling out strands of hair on my edges for like 10yrs now. It started out as tugging on my edges because I feel everything there more. Mainly my right side is thinning and getting worse. I decided to start locking my hair not just because of the hair pulling but in hopes that it would also help. I was able to gather hair and make a loc. Today is the start of my loc journey so hopefully my edges grow in more!

  6. Folu

    Good read, glad to know locking helped stop your Trich.

    The reverse is the case for me …after 12years of locs, I cut them off…and now…I cannot resist pulling apart every tangle in my hair…(African, kinky curly type)

    Like you, I maintained my locs myself…re-twisting frequently…..
    Perhaps the absence of this routine has led me to replace with my…new hobby?

    Anyways..with dreadlock days behind me…..I see mummy days ahead with bandaged fingers and head……anything to stop dish….

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