Patients who require psychiatric care for a condition characterised by hair-pulling could benefit from a new treatment.
Scientists from the University of Minnesota Medical School have identified an anti-oxidant food supplement that reduces the urge of people to pull out their hair, a condition known as trichotillomania.
The study's findings are published in the July, 2009 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry and offer hope to the two to four per cent of the population believed to be affected by the condition.
Dr Jon Grant is a University of Minnesota associate professor of psychiatry and principal investigator of the study.
He commented: "Trichotillomania is compulsive in the sense that people can't control it. People feel unable to stop the behaviour even though they know it is causing negative consequences.
"Some people don't even know they are doing it."
The condition could be triggered by depression or stress and is most likely to develop when an individual is a teenager.