We’ve been having a bit of a problem with Clara over the past few months. She has been pulling her hair out which has resulted in some big patches where her hair is thinning and short. It’s a comfort thing – she sucks her thumb on one hand and with the other she plays with her hair, wrapping it around her fingers and pulling it. As she always sucks her left thumb, she only pulls the hair she can reach with her right hand – so she has lovely blond curls on one side of her head and short, wispy hair on the other side. However, in the past few weeks the situation has really improved and we are feeling positive that she’s going to break this habit.
The turning point was when I searched on-line for advice on how to stop toddlers pulling their hair out. I came across this website for a company called Scratch Sleeves. I ordered a set of Scratch Mitts for Clara to try, and then the company very kindly sent Clara a PJ top to review.
Originally created to stop children with eczema from scratching their skin, the specially made clothing can also be used to stop children from pulling out their hair. The scratch mitts look a bit like a cardigan, and have gloves attached to the sleeves. They can be worn over or under clothing, and the silky material prevents children from being able to grip the hair (or scratch their skin). The PJ top works in the same way, with built in gloves.
Clara is usually quite happy to wear the scratch mitts, over her pyjamas and under her sleeping bag. We call them her special gloves. She found that there was enough room in them that she could still suck her thumb through the material if she wanted to, but mostly she prefers to stroke her face and head with the soft gloves. So it’s having the added benefit of reducing thumb sucking at night too.
Straight away we noticed a difference as the bed sheet wasn’t covered with hair the next morning. Even just having one night without her pulling clumps of hair out was such a relief, and gave me confidence that this is a habit that we can stop. It’s been about 2 months now and in that time she has only managed to wriggle out of the scratch mitts once, so they do stay on pretty well.
The PJ top just goes on over her vest, with her usual pyjama bottoms, although it is also available with matching trousers. It’s harder to take off than the mitts, so if your child is using a sheet or duvet rather than a sleeping bag the PJ top may be a bit more secure during the night. However, you can also put the sleeves on underneath a loose t-shirt, so there are lots of options to ensure your child keeps them on.
Babies and younger children who pull hair or scratch their skin could wear the sleeves all the time if needed, but at 22 months old Clara is quite active and wants to play, so she doesn’t often wear them during the day. When we see her putting her hand up to her head we try to distract her with toys, hold her hand, sing, dance, anything to to stop her from pulling her hair. We also went to see the health visitor who reinforced that we are approaching this in the right way. We have to try not to make a big deal out of it in case she starts to do it for attention, but its quite hard when she has a huge clump of hair firmly gripped in her little fist!
After a few weeks of wearing the scratch sleeves in the evenings, we noticed that the hair was starting to grow back. We also noticed that she wasn’t pulling as much hair out during the day – she is still playing with her hair but sometimes when she pulls it out she looks upset and says “My hair!” as she shows us it in the palm of her hand. Other days she will pull out clumps so while she is getting better and not pulling as much, it’s still a problem which we are working on every day.
It’s going to be a slow process. It’s like any behaviour that needs to be changed – it takes time to break the habit. Just knowing that she isn’t pulling her hair out in the evening and when she is in her cot is a huge relief! It has really made a big difference, not just to Clara but by giving us some reassurance that we can tackle this. I appreciate that we are extremely lucky and if the worst we have to deal with is a toddler having a constant bad hair day we really have nothing to complain about, but it has been quite upsetting at times. Watching her hurt herself by pulling her hair, seeing her destroy her lovely blond curls, it can leave you feeling pretty helpless. But we are getting there, and she is doing really well.
I really would recommend Scratch Sleeves to anyone whose child pulls their hair or scratches their skin. They can even be used when your little one has chicken pox to prevent scratching. Both the mitts and the PJ top wash really well in the washing machine and can be tumble dried – which is great when you need to have them washed and dried ready for bed time. They are made from 100% cotton, and the gloves are 100% natural silk, which is cooling on delicate skin. They are available in sizes for newborn babies to 8 year olds, and come in several different colours. Visit www.scratchsleeves.co.uk to find out more.
*We were kindly given a Scratch Sleeves PJ top to review. The Scratch Mitts were purchased independently. All words and opinions are my own.*