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More help needed for hair pullers

8th November 2010

Trichologists have called for the health service to offer more help to people who suffer from a condition which makes them pull out their own hair.

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Experts from the Institute of Trichologists said the NHS should provide support more quickly to people who have trichotillomania.

Around 1% of the population of the UK is thought to suffer from the condition.

The Institute of Trichologists want the NHS to make sure psychological services such as cognitive behavioural therapy are more easily available to patients.

Marilyn Sherlock, Chair of the Institute, told the BBC that the most prevalent response by doctors when faced with someone who had the condition was: "Stop it, simple. Just don't do it."

She added that because conditions affecting the hair were generally not "life threatening" they were not taken as seriously as other ailments, but they had a definite impact on sufferers because the problem was so visible.

The Department of Health said it expected the health service to treat the condition with concern but acknowledged that psychological therapies had varying waiting times around the UK.

In June this year health secretary Andrew Lansley allocated an additional £70 million for these type of treatments.

Dr Graham Archard, from the Royal College of GPs, said doctors should not be telling patients just to "stop".

"If a doctor is actually saying that to a patient, my advice is to find another GP, find somebody who's actually going to listen."

 

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