Little girl eating hair with intestinal obstruction

Thai NguyenTwo large 10 cm and 15 cm large buns were clumped in the stomach, forming a foreign object that blocked the intestines of an 11-year-old girl.

Doctor Chau Van Viet, Head of Department of Pediatric Surgery, Thai Nguyen Central Hospital, said the pediatric patient was hospitalized on February 2 with symptoms of colic, vomiting.

Results of ultrasound, X-ray of the abdomen showed that the baby had intestinal obstruction. The surgeon removes two large, 15 cm and 10 cm long buns from the baby’s gut. Family members said that he is addicted to hair, accumulating in buns for a long time causing intestinal obstruction.

The doctor diagnoses the child with trichotillomania or hair-pulling disorder, considered a mental illness.

The bun is taken out of the child’s intestine by doctors. Image: Hospital provided

Hair pluckers often have rather characteristic manifestations such as pulling their own hair, refusing to pull hair. Children often perform stealthily when there are no adults, avoid social situations to get their hair pulled privately and without shame. In children with plucking, often add anorexia (trichophagia), thereby creating hair or foreign objects in the stomach, intestines. The disease is detected only when there are symptoms of intestinal obstruction such as abdominal pain, vomiting, or gastrointestinal bleeding.

In children and adolescents, the disease is seen as a short-term habit disorder, but caution is required.

The cause of the disease so far is not clear. Many hypotheses such as stress coping mechanisms, harmless habits develop from a sensory phenomenon such as itchy eyelashes, then aggravate and irresistible, and the appearance of other habit behaviors in small children suck their fingers. It may also be related to serotonin deficiency and brain structural abnormalities. Hair plucking usually occurs in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder and those with relatives suffering from psychological diseases.

Patients must undergo hair removal surgery and psychological treatment, supplementing with micronutrients to prevent hair eating habits. Parents must work with the treating doctor to support the child’s behavior and mental improvement.

Thuy Quynh