Max Sherwood was going bald.
The 11-year-old from Riverdale, Iowa, suffers from trichotillomania, a psychological disorder that causes people to pull out patches out hair from their body, ABCNews.com reported.
“He started to pull out his eyebrows when he was in second grade, then he quit,” said his mother, Candace. “Then, when he started fourth grade, he started to pull out his hair.”
Max’s parents didn’t know what to do – so they attended a conference for trichotillomania sufferers and learned about an organization called Hair Club for Kids, which provides free hair replacements for children who lose their hair.
Max got a semi-permanent hair replacement in 2009. He hasn’t pulled his hair out since.
But, that doesn’t mean his problems are over – he will continue to suffer from trichotillomania and something could trigger the need to pull his hair out again. He has been subjected to taunting – from other children and adults.
Psychologists say the stigma attached to trichotillomania can be the worst part of the medical condition, and many sufferers also have depression or academic difficulties. Trichollotillomania usually starts in childhood when a child is anxious or bored.
“Some say it’s pleasurable in a way,” said Dr. Martin Franklin, associate professor of clinical psychology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
“It calms them down or gets them interested when they’re bored.”
Treatment usually involves a combination of medicine and behavior therapy.