Every year, Americans spend billions of dollars caring for their hair. They lovingly style, color and add extensions to their manes, and may invest in hair replacement procedures and prescriptions to fight hair loss. However, a certain segment of the population suffers from the fear of hair. The fear of hair is known by the Latin name, Chaetophobia.
Why Do People Fear Hair?
Some people fear hair because they feel it is dirty. Their phobia may be an offshoot of germophobia, the fear of germs. Since hair can carry certain bacteria, and can also be subject to headlice and dandruff, it can be repulsive to many people.
Those who suffer from this phobia will dislike the sight of stray hairs clinging to clothing or hairbrushes. They will avoid situations where hair is bound to be, such as salons where hair falls to the floor after it is cut. For this reason, barber shops and salons are anathema to people with Chaetophobia.
The diseases and problems that some people have with their scalps can also trigger this phobia. If someone is prone to skin disorders such as sebborheic dermatitus, they may develop a general dislike of hair and all the problems that go along with it. On the opposite side of the spectrum, someone who is losing their hair may begin to develop this phobia since they are forced to confront future baldness.
The main triggers for this phobia are hygiene-related concerns. Some sufferers report feeling queasy when they see even a single hair on a piece of furniture or clothing. Obviously, the sight of a hair in their food, at home or in a restaurant, will provoke a strong, negative reaction. Unfortunately, despite restaurant food safety regulations, it can be quite common to find someone else’s hair in a plate of food. This can be extremely traumatic for those who suffer from the fear of hair. They may even choose to eat food that they prepare themselves in order to minimize the risk of finding other people’s hair in their meals.
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Some phobic people report feelings of revulsion even when confronted with their own stray hairs.
Other Names For This Phobia
There are other common names for this phobia: you may find them described as Trichopathophobia, Trichophobia, and Hypertrichophobia. But each phobia listed has a slightly different meaning. Trichopathophobia is specifically the fear of hair disease. Trichophobia is the fear of loose hairs upon clothing or elsewhere. Hypertrichophobia is a persistent fear of hair, and its definition is closest to that of Chaetophobia.
Recently, the media has shone light on certain health concerns related to the use of hair dyes and chemicals such as hair relaxers. Some scientists are convinced that a link between cancer and these chemicals exists. Pregnant women are often advised to forego getting chemical processes such as highlights during their gestation period. For this reason, many women become fearful of hair health during pregnancy.
Hair Loss Is A Trigger
Female hair loss can also trigger this phobia in women. While men often exhibit this phobia due to incipient baldness, women can also lose their hair. In some ways, it can be even more traumatic for a woman to lose her hair, since very thin hair and bald patches are not as common for women. In a culture obsessed with female youth and beauty, female baldness can have some severe psychological ramifications. Topical solutions such as Rogaine have treated hair loss with success, easing this phobia, but results vary.
Symptoms Of Chaetophobia
The symptoms of Chaetophobia are similar to those experienced during a panic attack. Nausea, sweating, racing heart, and intense fear are some common physical and mental side effects of the fear of hair. Avoidance is also common.
Treating the fear of hair is possible once the reason for the phobia is ascertained. As we’ve discussed, there are many variants and many different triggers for Chaetophobia. Once a trained mental health specialist help a phobic person get at the root of their fears, some relief can be found. Anti-depressants may be described to help the person who fears hair deal with the daily effects of their phobia.