Hair and eye lash pulling?

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Q: I live in Scotland with my 8 year old daughter.  She has pulled out her eye lashes since she was 5. She has recently started pulling out her hair. I have tried hypnotherapy and CBT.  Neither seem to have much effect. I was just wondering if you had any stories of the elimination diet helping to reduce the urge to pull as a result of Trichotillomania?

A: Yes, we do - most people just call it hair pulling, and it responds to diet. See trichitillomania factsheet

A recent report

My 3yo self harmed, hair pulling, biting her own fingers, kicking, screaming prior to a change in diet. Two weeks after changing her diet we had a different child and have never seen that again. She is now nearly 5 :) – Jan from story [1551]

and others

[1377] 160b: compulsive hair pulling or trichotillomania (January 2016)

I have been aware for a few years that my daughter's behaviour is severely affected by annatto (160b). She becomes loud, aggressive and irrational (cries and tantrums at the drop of a hat and cannot be reasoned with).

The past few months she has been becoming very anxious and has been developing a habit of pulling her hair out, and running it through her teeth, numerous times a day. It has been increasing fast, and I could see she was unable to control it.

I was starting to stress about it and think about the impact this may have on her life, long term. Then I had a lightbulb moment- annatto - it had slipped back I into her diet.

I immediately talked to her about this, cut it from her diet and within a couple of days it had drastically reduced. It has now been a week. Still reducing. She is much more relaxed and just generally calmer in herself - Carla

[1074] Depression, compulsive hair pulling (trichotillomania) due to food intolerance (December 2011)

I have been on anti-depressants and a mood stabiliser in the past. However, if I stick to failsafe eating, there is no problem with any of that stuff - see story [963].

If I cheat, boy do I pay the price!! The first sign of reaction is hair pulling, followed very rapidly with other reactions. By the next day, I feel absolutely horrid. I don't want to live, I don't even want to see anyone, including family. I feel like I have the worst hangover ever. I actually feel sick enough to be in hospital. My husband and adult daughter know straight away if I've cheated.

It still blows my mind to think that food can have such an impact on sensitive individuals. It has happened every time I've cheated, so I definitely know it's a food reaction. It's also like an addiction. If I get a taste of prohibited foods, I can't stop myself. All I can think about is the wrong foods, even though I know how rotten I will feel. My system is so sensitive, I will know if a food smells strong and I feel sick from the aroma, I can't eat it. I have tried soda bi-carb in water as an antidote. It works sometimes and I will have bi-carb baths. The last resort is to water fast. By the next day I feel myself again - Liz, NSW

[1075] Annatto 160b: headbanging, rage, trichotillomania (hair, eyelash, eyebrow pulling) (December 2011)

When my daughter was 12 months old she had a head banging reaction to annatto in yoghurt. The next week she had another episode of screaming, tantrums and banging her head repeatedly on the metal frame of her bed. The very next day my mum saw a story on ACA or similar program with yourself mentioned, and thought the 4 year old kids on the segment sounded like what we had with our 12 month old ... so we looked up your website. I looked back at food she ate and I had given her a kids Heinz apricot bar and sure enough it had annatto too. This was all I needed to prompt me to look at what she, and we, were actually eating!

My daughter is now 6 1/2 and we still have the occasional uncontrollable outburst and know she's had something. We actually had an incident last weekend with her and the wicked 160b. She was at a friend’s place Saturday night and they thought they were doing the right thing when they gave her jelly snakes 'preservative free, no artificial colours'. I didn't know about the snakes but Sunday saw her at her worst. She woke in a rage and was lashing out, hitting, biting, screaming, indecisive about trivial little things and completely and utterly beside herself. When in this state (the worst lasts for about 4-6 hours) she cannot control any aspect of her being. She even goes as far as plucking all her eyelashes and eyebrows out with her fingers (trichotillomania) if left alone. I went to the friend’s house and began quizzing them! A peek at the ingredients on the snakes proved me right yet again when I saw the number 160b. (fyi they were Aldi brand).

After an annatto reaction is somewhat over, she 'sleeps it off' and will often then sleep up to 15 hours (say 6pm til 9am!!). She had a horrific day and finally fell asleep at 11pm Sunday night. She slept it off and woke close to 10.30am Monday morning. She was fine Monday and Tuesday ... But Wednesday evening saw her showing (relatively mild this time) annatto signs again. I asked her about school (started back on Tuesday) and she was hesitant to tell me her little friend had bought a lemonade 'spider'. I went to the canteen today and sure enough... Annatto in the ice cream!!!!

I'd also be willing to bet my husband reacts to annatto... he gets very moody at times and also his sleep patterns are all over the place. Some nights he will be up all night on the computer and just not tired, then other days/nights he too will sleep for 15+ hours - Skye, NSW

[352] ‘So much calmer’ (November 2004)

First of all let me tell you how wonderful it was to find your website and help our 4 1/2 year old son (and the rest of us) lead a much more ‘normal’ life. He's had horrible symptoms of terrible mood swings, off and on stuttering, biting, spitting, banging his head against the wall, excessive bedwetting, an extremely loud voice that he couldn't control, big ‘saucer’ eyes with clenched teeth while running at me to kick and bite me, would go into hysterics when I would ask him to do the simplest of tasks such as dressing himself, pulling his hair hard enough to yank it out of head (and his 14 month old sister's), screaming every name at me he knew, running behind me from across the room gaining momentum to head butt me as hard as he could in the back and spine and as we give him a much needed nap during the day he can't fall asleep until 11:00 pm or midnight!

I’ve ordered your book but until it arrives I've been making some really wonderful meals and snacks for my son just from the info on your website… Since introducing the new diet, he's been basically a new, happier little boy and the mood around the house is SO MUCH CALMER - by email, USA

[1008] Fragrance: Our sensitivity to perfumes and fragranced products (March 2011) COURAGE AWARD

I’ve become increasing sensitive to perfumes and fragrances. For me it triggers an intense, immediate burning headache, dizziness, nausea, and a reflexive instinct to want to get away. The longer I’m exposed to the smell, I find it hard to look up, hard to make eye contact with people, my heart rate speeds up and I feel hot and a bit shivery. I feel like I have to keep an eye on the ground to know where it is, have trouble telling where objects are around me, and kind of lose my sense of where I am in space....The worst places for the boys and I to enter are public toilets with automatic fragrance sprayers. One was introduced to our local shopping centre, and we were caught unawares. I sat down on the toilet, and was suddenly sprayed by a fountain of this horrible scent – it triggered of a bout of vomiting which meant I was stuck in there with the scent. When I finally escaped, I found that hubby had encountered the same problem on taking the boys into the Men’s toilet. The elder was biting his hands and pulling his hair, and the younger was bouncing and squirming uncontrollably. We abandoned the idea of grocery shopping and went home to recover. Now we make sure we go to the toilet at home before we leave – by email, full report [1008]

[1076] 'pulling out her hair and eye lashes' (December 2011)

We have an escalation of my daughter's behaviour since an increase in Maccas and Hungry Jacks (thanks to hubby which I am not happy about). She is pulling out her hair and eye lashes also but I am not convinced it is strictly OCD.

[1296] 282: "the meltdowns and self harming stopped the next day" (December 2014)

My daughter has always been a little bit of a 'wired' child. She had eczema until she was 3 and many strange rashes after eating that came and went. However, all of this was quite manageable and she was otherwise a healthy, happy kid. Then, when she was 4 years old she overnight became utterly unmanageable. Her slight anxiety blew out of control, she was melting down 4-10 times a day over tiny things, she was disagreeable, angry and miserable (this was a child that never did the terrible twos or was a tantrum thrower). Nothing in our home life had changed, nothing seemed different except her. She was repeatedly saying terrible negative things that I never expected to hear from a small child. Worst of all, she started hurting herself during these melt downs. She would tear and her skin all up her arms until it bled, she would bite her arms until she bruised them and rip her hair out. I was completely lost ... I just knew it must have been this 282 preservative  ...  and threw it in the bin. The meltdowns and self harming stopped the next day, three days before we re-visited the paediatrician to be told there was nothing wrong with her and that it was a parenting issue ... Since that time we have had only two re-emergences of this awful, awful behaviour, only ever mildly and short lived (it's coming up to two years now since this horror 8 weeks of my life) - Kylie, from [1296]

What the medical journals say

Nothing!

More information

See trichotillomania factsheet

Introduction to food intolerance

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