A 17-year-old girl arrived at a Pune hospital with complaints of severe stomach ache and severe illness. She was so ill that she could barely walk and had lost interest in eating food.

Her parents had sought medical help from various doctors as the problem worsened over the last three years. Her parents were told she had a gynecological problem and sent back home with medicines that never helped subside the pain.

She was rushed to the hospital last week when she complained of excruciating pain in her abdomen. After detailed examination and CT Scans, doctors found two pounds of hair mass and a large lesion in her stomach.

It was later known that she had been chewing on her own hair for five years. The problem had become so bad, she would vomit each time she ate.Dr Shreehari Dhole Patil, the surgeon who operated on the girl, said: “Komal had approached us along with her father. She said she had acute stomach ache from last three years but had no clue why it was happening. We carried couple of tests and during gastrointestinal examinations it was found there was a tumor of 17 by 14 centimeters and at border there were thin black color thread like hair. It took us an hour and a half to retrieve the hairball. She is doing well now.”After the surgery, Dr Dhole-Patil asked the girl if she had the addiction of eating hair, a psychological disorder known as Trichotillomania or Rapunzel Syndrome where a person has the habit of pulling out hair and chewing it.

The girl confessed to eating hair since she was 12 years old. The girl’s father said: “For the last three years, we had thought she had some gynecological problem as told to us by doctors. We are relieved to know she is fine now. We will now take help of psychologists for counseling her so she never picks up the habit again.”