Loom Research 

Research Goal

Through out the research, we wish we are able to broardening our understanding and knowledge about Trichotillomania, get insights on their current situation and walkarounds, and finally, how we can help parents of children with trichotillomania.

Research I -
Secondary Research

For secondary research, we leverage media scan and literature review to help us get an overall understanding of Trichotillomania and narrow down our target user group.

    • Trichotillomania(trick-o-<ll-o-may-nee-uh) (TTM or “trich”) is a body-focused repetitive behavior classified as an impulse control disorder which involves pulling out one's hair. Hair pulling may occur in any region of the body in which hair grows but the most common sites are the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelids.
    • The typical age at onset of Trichotillomania is usually 10–13 years old.
    • Many patients report not being fully aware of their pulling behaviors, at least some of the time—a phenomenon known as “automatic” pulling; “focused” pulling, in contrast, generally occurs when the patient sees or feels that a hair is “not right,” or that a hair feels coarse, irregular, or “out of place.”
    • 1 to 2% of the population has Trichotillomania.
    • 5 to 20% of people who have Trichotillomania also swallow their hair, which in severe cases can result in serious intestinal blockage.
    • Shame and embarrassment prevent individuals with these problems from sharing their struggle, leading to the misconception that Trichotillomania is rare.

Summary/ insights:
  1. Trichotillomania is more common than the average person thinks. There is a lack of awareness and stigma about it which can make diagnosis and treatment difficult.
  2. We decide to help parents of children with Trichotillomania.

1.Mental Health America (n.d). Retrieved October 10, 2019 from https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/trichotillomania-hair-pulling
2. American Journal of Psychiatry (n.d). Retrieved September 30, 2019 from https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp. 2016.15111432
3. NPR (n.d). Retrieved October 1, 2019 from https://www.npr.org/ sections/health-shots/2018/03/17/588954152/for-compulsive-hair-pullersand-skin-pickers-there-is-need-for-more-help
4. The TLC Foundation for body focused repetitive disorders (n.d). Retrieved October 1, 2019 from https://www.bfrb.org/learn-about-bfrbs/ trichotillomania

Research II -
Culture Probe/

In order to get an in-depth view on  Trichotillomania and people’s experience with Trichotillomania, we conducted culture probe and follow-up interviews.

Whom we talk to:
  • Primary caregivers of children living with Trichotillomania.
  • Adults who developed Trichotillomania as children and who still have it.
  • Adults who developed Trichotillomania past childhood.
    • Parents do not have an understanding of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.
    • Parents are engaged in the mental health and treatment of their child.
    • Parents have learned and adopted workarounds to help their children.
What we trying to learn:
    • What are the meaningful and impactful things people do?
      Parents’ stories and experiences with their children.
      Learn about workarounds or tricks they have learned over time.

Probe refinement:
We planned to provide participants with a physical “Time capsule” in which they would be asked to collect things to give to their past self when they first began their journey with their child.
  • In their Time Capsule they would be able to include things such as; objects, drawings, pictures that represent things things they wish they knew or things they did at the beginning of their journey.
  • Following the completion of their Time Capsule, we planned to set up a follow-up interviews with participants to dive deeper into why they included the things they did in their Time Capsule and also to understand the importance of those things to them.

Digital probe:
We weren’t able to find participants locally so we adapted our physical “Time Capsule” into a digital one using Google Slides. People were asked to write pieces of text to each of the probe questions, add their own pictures and/or add images from the internet that best represented their response.

<Digital probe cover page>

<Probe/Follow-up interview analyzation>

  1. What have you learned about Trichotillomania that you wish you had known at the beginning of your journey with your child?
  • Lack of awareness about Trichotillomania leads people to minimize the severity of the disorder which prevents them from getting treatment early. Trichotillomania isn’t something that people “can just stop”, it’s just a part of people’s lives.
She was in first grade when she just came out and told me one day and said 'Mommy, sometimes I pull my eyelashes out because it makes me feel better.” After all of the special needs struggles we had endured up until that point, I thought that a little eyelash pulling was completely harmless, similar to nail-biting. The next thing I knew, she had multiple bald spots in her scalp. It progressed very quickly.”
  • Primary caregivers are under a lot of pressure to care for their child and outside stress about lack of understanding about Trichotillomania.
“Sometimes we have really hard days and my husband takes over and tell me to go in [my] room and he will take care of the kids. He supports me.”

2. Is there something you would give your past self or child that you feel would have helped your child with their Trichotillomania?
  • Those with Trichotillomania tend to blame themselves and hide their behaviors which can negatively impact how they feel about their Trich.
“She tries to hide the pulling by kind of sinking down in the couch and will wrap herself up in blankets so I can’t see her behind the couch.”
  • Trust and openness between someone who has Trichotillomania and their family is important to their wellbeing.
“I always convey to her that I know that she is strong enough to overcome these issues, but I also want her to know that I always love her - exactly the way she is - and pulling will never change that. I am very proud of the open relationship we share, as it is based on her trust in me to be on HER team, even when she slips. She often comes to me and tells me that she has been pulling and needs my help and that is the most successful tool that we currently have.”

3. What tips or tricks would you give your past self and/or child that you think would have helped you with their Trich?
  • Treatment is very complicated and individual - tools that work for one person might not work for another.
“We have a few different fidgets that we put by her bed but she never uses them. That’s one of my biggest struggles with her, I cannot find a fidget that suits her needs.”
  • Having access to a community of other people living with Trichotillomania is a way to get emotional support and to learn about the disorder.
“It has been so helpful to be able to talk to other people, and learn more about the disorder to make me feel more comfortable.”