A 17-year-old girl in the UK is recovering from surgery after doctors removed a 19-inch wad of hair from her stomach. And, uh, the whole experience sounds horrifying!
BMJ Journals published the case report on February 9. According to reports, the girl was first admitted to the hospital after two fainting spells, and the medics figured out it was something beyond head trauma because of her bloated abdomen and reports of stomach pain. A CT scan revealed the cause of the issues — a mass they later determined to be the hair — and doctors operated to not only remove it but to repair a tear in her stomach. What’s even worse is that, apparently, the hair formed into a cast around her stomach.
Ugh. Wow. It just sounds so horrible. Considering how easily hair clogs shower drains, we can only imagine what they must’ve been doing to her insides. We’re guessing the hair made it awfully difficult for her to digest food — among other things. Based on the research we did, having enough hair in your system could eventually lead to ulcers or a fatal blockage of the intestinal tract.
Sooo, thank goodness this young person ended up in the ER in time!
During the treatment process, the doctors discovered that the girl had two rare conditions: one known as trichotillomania and the other known as trichophagia. Trichotillomania basically refers to anyone who has a tendency of pulling out their hair — and trichophagia is a disorder where someone eats their hair.
Though only .5% to 3% of the population rip out their hair, it still occurs often enough that medical professionals have become aware of it. Once someone ingests enough of their own hair, it could result in what’s known as Rapunzel syndrome (like in the case of this girl). Named after the Brothers Grimm fairytale, this medical classification derives its name from the idea that a patient has become entangled by their own hair.
As for the 17-year-old, she spent seven days in psychiatric care before being released. We truly hope that her time with professionals has helped her move beyond this, and we’re so glad she was able to get the help that she needed. Here’s to her healthy and safe recovery — we’ll be wishing her well!