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Why Am I Addicted to Hair Twirling?

Someone who obsessively twirls her hair might seek help if the habit affects her relationships.
Hair twirling can be a sign of trichotillomania, a condition that might including pulling one's hair out.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2014
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For many people, hair twirling is less an addiction than an annoying habit. For example, some people have the habit of tapping their feet as they wait in line or shaking one of their legs when they are seated. Sometimes people twirl their hair in response to stress or anxiety; in other cases, hair twirling may be a symptom of a compulsive disorder. Often though, habits such as hair twirling are unconscious, which means the person may not even realize she’s twirling her hair. In many cases, hair twirling is a habit that begins in childhood. Many people grow out of it, but some continue the behavior well into adulthood.

Some people twirl their hair because it helps them to feel more relaxed. It’s essentially a pacifying habit that is similar to sucking one’s thumb or nail biting. It may help to produce a calm feeling. For example, some people may use hair twirling as a self-soothing measure during times of stress or nervousness. In fact, they may engage in this act without even noticing that they are feeling stressed. Others, however, may seem to twirl their hair just about all the time.

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Usually, twirling hair is not a major concern. If it interferes with a person’s daily activities, however, she may decide to seek help with letting go of this habit. Often, a person may decide to seek help with hair twirling because of the effect it may have on others. For example, a person who seems to be addicted to hair twirling may notice that her loved ones feel concerned or even irritated when continually faced with her habit.

Hair twirling may also make others view a person as less competent. For example, employers and business associates may view a hair twirler as incompetent, flaky, or even coy. In some cases, this habit may even stimulate unwanted romantic advances, as members of the opposite sex may think the hair twirler is being flirtatious rather than twirling her hair out of habit.

Sometimes hair twirling is a sign of, or related to, a condition called trichotillomania. This is a disorder in which a person exhibits compulsive behavior such as hair pulling, which may result in actually pulling out one’s hair, or nail biting and skin picking. While these acts may occur when a person has an innocuous habit, when these actions are severe or constant, they may be a sign of a serious problem. This condition often begins around adolescence and may be associated with serious internal conflicts or past or current abuse.

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anon961113
Post 12

I twirl constantly. I'll end up with little knots at bottom n I have to break it off. So now one side of my hair is shorter. I'm left handed, but I can only twirl with my right. I've been doing it since I was real small.

One time when I was about 3 years old, my dad had to pull over and cut the hair off around my finger because my finger had turned purple. I'm easier on my hair now when twirling, but it's damaging my formerly beautiful hair, and sometimes I don't even realize I am doing it. Any tips to help me stop? I'm 25 now.

anon937617
Post 11

This is the same guy as anon937558, post 10. From earlier, I am more worried about my son. When he twists his hair on the crown of his head, it gets knotted up (it's only an inch short, by the way), and he breaks the knot apart. A few weeks ago I guess it got knotted up again, and he took scissors to it, or pulled it out, I am not quite sure. Definitely, any suggestions would be wonderful.

anon937558
Post 10

I also have been twirling my hair just about as long as I can remember. My mother says that I would twist hers while she held me. I am 28 now, and it is becoming a major problem. I had a neck muscle spasm about seven years ago (not from twisting), and I still have muscle aches constantly throughout my neck and shoulders, and half way down my back, because at least one of my arms are raised up to my head about 80 percent of the time I am awake.

It also worries me that my five year old son has been doing the exact same thing, in the exact same spot, since he was two years old. I am seriously aching every minute of every day. Does anyone know of any methods to help reduce the urge? Or of any low key products to keep your hands busy? I would appreciate any suggestions.

anon357475
Post 9

I do it out of boredom or nervousness.

anon357473
Post 8

I twirl all the time, sometimes out of boredom, sometimes out of nervousness. It doesn't bother me and I stop when people are looking are coming around.

anon330501
Post 7

I am a severe hair twirler. I've been doing it since I was just starting to grow hair. I even do it when I am sleeping. I'd like to get help for it now.

anon269156
Post 5

I've been doing this since second grade. I am in my mid twenties now. Numerous times I've tried cutting my hair short, wearing a hat, occupying my hands with other nervous habits like smoking, tapping, etc. Nothing works. I may be uncomfortable to be around, but at least I'm burning calories?

anon171388
Post 4

I study in a library at university. Lately I've found myself sitting next to an individual who is constantly twirling his hair. Unfortunately for me, my peripheral vision picks up on this constant twirling and it is an annoying distraction. --FernValley.

Denha
Post 3

I'm not sure in what situation I would find someone else's hair twirling to be on the level of making me anxious about him or her- after all, boys twirl and flip their hair too- though I will admit that it could confuse people who associate it with flirting. I personally have different ways that I play with my hair if I'm either trying to flirt with someone or feeling uncomfortable around him, though it's true some guys do not get the message.

FernValley
Post 2

I am not sure I would classify hair twirling, foot tapping, or any of these other forms of fidgeting as "annoying". People who are annoyed by these things are typically the minority of people who don't seem to fidget at all. However, fidgeting is how many people pass the time when waiting in lines or in other situations when they have very little to do. It's not a bad thing, and it doesn't always relate to being soothed, either.

In fact, some research shows that people who fidget a lot can actually burn hundreds of calories a day by doing so. If you're trying to lose weight, it might almost make you wish you did have an "annoying" habit.

anon144533
Post 1

"Often though, habits such as hair twirling are unconscious." Actually, it happens SUBconsciously, not UNconsciously.

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