How to Manage Trichophilia, or a Hair Fetish

Trichophilia, also known as a hair fetish, is when someone feels sexually aroused by or attracted to human hair. This can be any type of human hair, such as chest hair, armpit hair, or pubic hair.

However, the most common focus for this attraction seems to be human head hair. Trichophilia can present as a long or short hair fetish, hair-pull fetish, or haircut fetish, among others.

A sexual preference involving hair is not uncommon. It’s perfectly fine, as long as you’re not hurting other people.

While the actual percentage of people who have trichophilia is unknown, it is a fetish that both men and women can develop.

Here, we go over how it can show up, the ways people experience this type of fetish, and how to live with it.

What are the specifics?

Trichophilia is a type of paraphilia. According to board certified psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Seide, a paraphilia is an erotic focus on anything other than the genitalia of a consenting adult human partner.

Paraphilia, or fetishes, is actually more common than you might think.

According to a 2016 study, nearly half of the 1,040 participants expressed interest in at least one paraphilic category.

Trichophilia can manifest in a variety of ways. “An individual with trichophilia would derive sexual pleasure from viewing, touching, and in rare cases, eating hair,” says Seide.

“Most individuals with trichophilia report being drawn to hair since childhood and being drawn to shampoo commercials which feature hair prominently,” explains Seide.

They are usually attracted to a specific type of hair. For example, trichophilia triggers can include:

  • hair that is long and straight
  • hair that is curly
  • hair of a particular color
  • hair styled in a specific manner, such as in rollers
  • manipulating hair in a certain way during sex acts, such as pulling

She also points out that for some people, just touching hair can bring the person to orgasm.

Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill-Cornell Medical College, says a hair fetish can involve any type of color, texture, or aspect of hair. It can also involve any form of interaction with hair such as looking, touching, or grooming.

How does it make you feel?

The symptoms of trichophilia, or how it makes you feel, depend on the type of hair and situations that cause arousal.

This can be different for each person. But in general, having a hair fetish really just means that you get erotic pleasure from the object — in this case, human hair.

That could mean you get pleasure from getting a haircut, or you experience an erotic sensation while watching a shampoo commercial.

Regardless of your preference, if you find hair erotic, Saltz says it’s generally not a problem. It’s just one of the many things humans enjoy as part of their sexual life.

That said, she points out that if hair needs to be the number one source of erotic stimulation in order to achieve sexual gratification, then the fetish has turned into something more serious.

Fetish or disorder?

If trichophilia goes beyond a normal sexual preference and causes distress to yourself or others, a doctor may diagnose you with a paraphilic disorder.

According to the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people with a paraphilic disorder will:

  • feel personal distress about their interest, not merely distress resulting from society’s disapproval; or
  • have a sexual desire or behavior that involves another person’s psychological distress, injury, or death, or a desire for sexual behaviors involving unwilling persons or persons unable to give legal consent

Seide says trichophilia is considered a disorder when it brings dysfunction to daily life or causes distress to the individual.

“In psychiatry, we call this egodystonic, which means that it’s no longer in alignment with this person’s belief system or in accordance with what they want for themselves,” she explains.

An example, says Seide, would be if a person began to act on urges to touch the hair of a nonconsenting person.

“The drives to act on a fetish can be quite strong and, unfortunately at times, can override the person’s better judgment,” she adds.

As a result, Seide says it can bring considerable shame and anguish to the person, and they can feel tormented or even disgusted by their thoughts.

When trichophilia starts to interfere with daily obligations, Seide says it’s an indication that it’s become a disorder.

For example, someone with this type of paraphilic disorder may start showing up late to work because they spend an excessive amount of time on fetish websites.

“At that point, it has crossed over into being a pathological condition that is disruptive to life and leading to untoward consequences,” she explains.

How to manage

If trichophilia changes from a fetish to a disorder, there are things you can do to reduce the urges and better manage the condition.

Since there is no cure for trichophilia, Seide says treatment will focus on management of the condition.

That said, she points out that treatment is only recommended if the condition is leading to a disruption in your life, or you feel tormented by the urges.

“If you’re acting on these desires within the confines of a consensual relationship with another adult who’s not bothered by these drives, intervention isn’t indicated,” she explains.

However, if trichophilia is causing problems, or you have a diagnosis of the disorder, Seide says there are a few options for treatment:

  • Self-help groups. Because of its similarity to addiction (resisting the urge to act on impulses), trichophilia can be addressed within self-help groups based on the 12-step model.
  • Medication. Certain medications can be used to dampen your libido. These include medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The bottom line

Trichophilia is a sexual fetish involving human hair. As long as no one gets hurt, physically or emotionally, and it’s practiced between consenting adults, experts say it can be an enjoyable part of your sexual life.

If this fetish is interfering with your daily activities or relationships, or causing harm to someone else, consider seeing a mental health professional. They have the tools to diagnose and treat trichophilia.

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