Here’s When Hair-Pulling, Skin-Picking, or Nail-Biting Becomes a Disorder

You’re not alone if you find some “bad” habit weirdly satisfying: freeing an ingrown hair, plucking a stray gray, popping a pimple, gnawing off a pesky hangnail, or whatever else you might do in the privacy of your home (and maybe other places, too) Even if you know it’s probably not the best for you, you might derive some satisfaction from this habit all the same.

What you may not know is that when done often enough and in a way that causes harm, these habits can actually be what experts call body-focused repetitive behaviors (or BFRBs). If you don’t know that BFRBs are a thing, these behaviors might make you feel especially alone or ashamed, Nicholas C. Crimarco, Ph.D., clinical psychology instructor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University, tells SELF. Most important, you might not know help is out there. Which, FYI, it is! But more on that in a bit. Let’s start by going over the basics of BFRBs.

What exactly are body-focused repetitive behaviors?

Body-focused repetitive behaviors are disorders that make people touch their hair and/or bodies repeatedly in ways that cause physical damage and psychological distress, according to the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, a research and education organization.

BFRBs are categorized as “obsessive-compulsive and related disorders” in the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (also known as the DSM-5), the classification and diagnostic tool of the American Psychiatric Association. But BFRBs and OCD have a few important differences that we’ll explore later.

The major BFRB conditions are:

Trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling disorder

This is when people compulsively pull out hair from their scalps, eyelashes and eyebrows, pubic areas, or other parts of their bodies, according to the Mayo Clinic. While a habit of overplucking your eyebrows might lead to your brows looking more like cousins than sisters, someone with trichotillomania who pulls at their eyebrows is more likely to wind up with sparse, patchy brows. Trichotillomania doesn’t always lead to bald patches, though.

In fact, the diagnostic criteria for trichotillomania has loosened a little bit with the release of the DSM-5 in 2013. To be diagnosed, you used to need to cause visible hair loss, like bald patches. Since so many people go to great lengths to hide their hair loss or pull from parts of their bodies that they can cover easily, the DSM-5 changed that requirement. Now, trichotillomania is diagnosed in part by repetitive hair-pulling that results in hair loss along with multiple failed attempts to decrease or stop pulling. The hair-pulling can’t be related to any other mental or physical health condition.

Excoriation, also known as skin-picking disorder or dermatillomania

This is compulsive manipulation of the skin that leads to some sort of damage, like scarring, discoloration, or mutilation. One major diagnostic criterion is when a person has attempted repeatedly to stop the behavior, according to the TLC Foundation for BFRBs.

READ  The 5 Best Dry Shampoos For Blonde Hair

Even though it’s also called skin-picking disorder, excoriation can also take the form of touching, rubbing, scratching, scraping, or digging into the skin anywhere on the body. Some people pick at acne, blemishes, dry or chapped skin, but others will focus on a spot that might otherwise seem pretty arbitrary. As with trichotillomania, these behaviors can’t be better explained by some other condition or disorder.

Other specified obsessive-compulsive and related disorders

This diagnosis accounts for compulsive behaviors that aren’t hair-pulling or skin-picking. “It’s an umbrella term for nail-biting, nail-picking, lip-biting, cheek-biting, lip-picking, skin-chewing, [and] any other kind of picking or biting behavior,” clinical psychologist and member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the TLC Foundation for BFRBs Suzanne Mouton-Odum, Ph.D., tells SELF. Like trichotillomania and excoriation, physical damage and a person being unable to stop on their own are key markers of this condition.

In some cases, BFRBs can lead to further physical problems. For example, skin-pickers and nail-biters might leave themselves prone to infection, says Crimarco. And, in some cases, trichotillomania can have medical—not just aesthetic—side effects. According to the TLC Foundation for BFRBs, around 5 to 20 percent of people who have trichotillomania also swallow the hair, which in severe cases can result in serious intestinal blockage.

While the physical actions and repercussions involved can vary with different BFRBs, one overarching symptom is emotional distress or life impairment. Most people with BFRBs feel a strong sense of guilt and embarrassment around their behaviors, which can be almost as debilitating as the behaviors themselves, says Mouton-Odum.

On top of being isolating and awful to deal with, this shame can also interfere with a person’s life in a lot of ways, whether that’s personally, socially, academically, or professionally. Maybe you find yourself turning down invitations after going on a pulling spree that left you with half an eyebrow, you don’t date out of fear of judgment of your excoriation scars, or you shy away from work in the public eye that you might otherwise enjoy. If you sink a lot of time into the behavior itself or on dealing with the damage—like applying makeup to cover up scars or styling your hair to hide bald spots—that’s another good indicator of a BFRB, says Crimarco.

BFRBs can contribute to other mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, the Mayo Clinic says, and many people with at least one BFRB engage in multiple picking or pulling behaviors.

The overall cause of BFRBs is unknown.

We don’t know a ton about what causes BFRBs, but according to experts, there seems to be a genetic component. (Plus, watching someone you’re close to engage in these behaviors might make you more likely to mimic them in some way.) “We regularly see BFRBs in the family members of people with a BFRB that we’re treating,” says Mouton-Odum. That said, it’s not always the same behavior. Where you might be a hair-puller, your dad might be a nail-biter, or your mom might be a chronic pimple popper.

READ  72 hours left on early-bird pricing to TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019

Beyond that, experts know more about what BFRBs are not. For example, they’re not an intentional form of self-harm, which is a complicated coping mechanism meant to purposefully to produce pain or discomfort. Unlike self-harm, BFRBs can actually feel pleasurable, says Mouton-Odum. That’s one of the things that distinguishes BFRBs from OCD, a condition marked by compulsive rituals and obsessions (which are persistent, unwanted, and intrusive thoughts often associating behaviors with preventing harm or danger). Many people with OCD loathe their compulsions, says Mouton-Odum, whereas people with BFRBs typically find some part of it soothing, enjoyable, entertaining, or otherwise pleasant.

Finally, BFRBs are not automatically a sign of trauma or abuse, says Mouton-Odum. While someone with a history of trauma or abuse might experience a BFRB disorder, there’s currently no known correlation between the two, according to the TLC Foundation for BFRBs.

BFRBs tend to happen in response to certain triggers.

In the absence of a known cause, mental health professionals tend to focus on what triggers a BFRB, which can inform treatment. Although specific triggers are not required for diagnosis, Mouton-Odum describes five main groups of triggers that BFRB patients typically report:

Sensory triggers: Any of the five senses—sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch—might give you the urge to pull or pick. “You might see something that triggers it, like a gray hair or a blemish,” says Mouton-Odum. “You might feel something with your fingers, like a hair that feels different or out of place.” Smell, taste, and sound are also possible—like the sound you might hear when digging at your scalp—but those are less common, according to Mouton-Odum.

Cognitive triggers: These are thoughts or beliefs you have when engaging in your BFRB (or being about to), like, “I need to pull out my gray hairs so no one notices them,” or “If I pop this pimple, it will heal.” (These thoughts are a lot less intense than obsessions that come with OCD.)

Affective triggers: These are triggers of the emotional variety. According to Mouton-Odum, some people pick, pull, or perform another BFRB in response to feelings such as “anxiety, tension, fear, anger, or boredom, or to increase positive feelings such as gratification or relaxation.”

Motor triggers: This involves certain movements, postures, and unconscious behaviors that can kick off your BFRB. For example, maybe you typically rest your chin on your palm while working, which makes you more susceptible to noticing a rogue facial hair or zit.

Setting triggers: Finally, factors like where you are, what you’re doing, what time it is, and things in your environment could prompt you to engage in your BFRB. “For example, in the bathroom, late at night, by yourself, door locked, magnifying mirror, bright light, and tweezers,” says Mouton-Odum.

READ  10 Ways to Make Life With Hidradenitis Suppurativa Easier

Professional treatment can help curb BFRBs.

According to Crimarco, the go-to treatment for BFRBs is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically habit reversal training, which involves helping a person to be aware of their habit and its triggers, as well as helping them to develop what experts call “competing responses” to replace the BFRB.

Through habit reversal training, you and a therapist can discover the underlying function of your BFRB (for example, if it’s a distraction from emotional triggers or maybe a response to boredom) and work to address the root of the issue.

If you’re trying to find a therapist for help with a BFRB, it’s worth taking the time to seek out someone who is familiar with treating these disorders in particular, says Crimarco. The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors has a list of TLC Professional Members who have identified themselves as mental health providers familiar with treating BFRBs, many of whom have completed the TLC’s Professional Training Institute. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it may be a good place to start if you’re looking for someone who has, at the very least, a professional interest in BFRBs.

For resources in the meantime, Mouton-Odum is the co-owner and lead developer of the interactive websites and, which are both full of helpful information.

Unlike for OCD, medication isn’t a go-to treatment for BFRBs. But depending on what usually triggers your behaviors or what other mental health disorders you may have, your doctor might suggest medication, too. For example, if the trigger for your skin-picking is feeling anxious, your doctor might prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to see if that helps reduce the picking behavior. Similarly, while BFRBs and OCD are separate disorders, some people with OCD deal with BFRBs and vice versa, so if someone takes medication for their OCD, it might also help reduce their BFRBs. What might work for you really depends on your specific situation, so talk to your doctor or therapist.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can seek help whenever you want, even if you don’t hit the official diagnostic criteria for a BFRB or if you worry your behavior isn’t “bad enough.” If a habit is affecting you physically or getting in the way of how you live your life and you want help moving past it, professional help is out there.

“It’s always better to seek help for something you’re experiencing than it is to wait for it to get worse or to tell yourself you need to handle it on your own,” says Crimarco. “Too many people see BFRBs as a weakness or the result of lack of willpower, but we know [they’re conditions] in which people need to learn very specific strategies to manage them. That’s nothing to be ashamed about.”


Trending Related Post

Share This Today;

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Take a look at our comprehensive guide to the best and most popular information ebooks and products available today on Detoxing, Colon Cleansing, Weight Loss and Dating and Romance. They are all in one spot, easy to find and compere to make a quick selection for the product that best fits your needs or wants.

Weight Loss Ebook Reviews

Weight loss products really work! Click here

Dating and Romance Ebook Reviews

Looking for Dating Guides? Click here

109 thoughts on “Here’s When Hair-Pulling, Skin-Picking, or Nail-Biting Becomes a Disorder

  1. Pingback: blackhat seo links
  2. Pingback: gaylord rockies
  3. Pingback: asmr blowjob
  4. Pingback: double dildo
  5. Pingback: dildos for men
  6. Pingback: descargasmix
  7. Pingback: #business
  8. Pingback: prostate
  9. Pingback: full apps download
  10. Pingback: VBUCKS
  11. Pingback: VIAGRA
  12. Pingback: Cryptocurrency
  13. Pingback: Mesothelioma
  14. Pingback: best restaurants
  15. Pingback: menu
  16. Pingback: viagra
  17. Pingback: uq blackboard
  18. Pingback: first dong
  19. Pingback: Flour mill Machine
  20. Pingback: GENM-023
  21. Pingback: Famous hunters
  22. Pingback: anal toys
  23. Pingback: best wand massager
  24. Pingback: Google
  25. Pingback: Google
  26. Another update Microsoft as of late implied incorporated another document see for OneDrive and that will propose records to you dependent on the
    tasks you’ve as of late taken a shot at. This will help you rapidly review crucial
    reports relating to your most high-need ventures.

  27. Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to
    and you’re simply extremely magnificent. I actually like what you have got
    right here, certainly like what you are stating and
    the way by which you are saying it. You’re making it entertaining and you continue to take care of to stay it sensible.
    I can’t wait to learn much more from you. That
    is actually a great web site.

  28. That is a really good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Short but very precise information… Appreciate your sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  29. Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

  30. Hi there excellent website! Does running a
    blog like this require a great deal of work? I’ve virtually no knowledge
    of programming however I was hoping to start
    my own blog soon. Anyhow, if you have any recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off subject but I simply wanted to ask.

    Thank you!

  31. Utilizing this choice (otherwise called the “unending” or “on-premises” form of Office), you can introduce the applications on a solitary PC and you’ll
    get security refreshes, yet you won’t most likely move up to a subsequent adaptation

  32. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send
    you an e-mail. I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

  33. Greetings! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you
    using for this website? I’m getting tired of WordPress
    because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options
    for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good

  34. Hi! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really
    enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over
    the same topics? Thanks for your time!

  35. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I
    in finding It really helpful & it helped me out much.
    I’m hoping to give one thing again and help others such as you helped

  36. Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to know a lot about this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something.

    I think that you just could do with some percent to force the message house a little bit,
    but other than that, that is magnificent blog. A fantastic read.
    I’ll certainly be back.

  37. My partner and I stumbled over here from a different website and thought I should check things out.
    I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to going over
    your web page repeatedly.

  38. This is very attention-grabbing, You are an overly professional
    blogger. I’ve joined your rss feed and look ahead to searching
    for extra of your great post. Also, I have shared
    your website in my social networks

  39. great publish, very informative. I’m wondering why the
    opposite specialists of this sector do not notice this.
    You should continue your writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’
    base already!

  40. I just like the valuable info you supply to your articles.

    I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more here regularly.
    I’m fairly sure I will be informed many new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  41. Hello everyone, it’s my first go to see at this site,
    and piece of writing is genuinely fruitful in support of me, keep up posting these types of content.

  42. When I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked
    the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment
    is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment.

    Is there an easy method you are able to remove me from that service?


  43. Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of
    spam responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise?

    I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so
    any assistance is very much appreciated.

  44. Hi, Neat post. There is an issue together with your website in web explorer, could test this?

    IE nonetheless is the market chief and a big portion of other folks will miss your wonderful writing due to this problem.

  45. Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get
    a lot of spam comments? If so how do you protect against it,
    any plugin or anything you can recommend? I get
    so much lately it’s driving me mad so any support is very much appreciated.

  46. If you are going for most excellent contents like I do, just pay a visit this web page
    all the time for the reason that it gives feature contents, thanks

  47. Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive
    a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation.
    My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this
    is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  48. I am truly happy to glance at this web site posts which contains plenty of useful facts, thanks for providing these kinds of information.

  49. Awesome blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog
    shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Cheers

  50. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s difficult to get that “perfect balance”
    between superb usability and visual appearance.
    I must say you have done a great job with this. In addition, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Internet
    explorer. Outstanding Blog!

  51. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get got an impatience over that you
    wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably
    come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.

  52. I think this is one of the most vital info for
    me. And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The web site style is
    perfect, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers

  53. Hey I am so glad I found your web site, I really found you by mistake, while I was searching on Askjeeve for something else,
    Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a remarkable post and
    a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also included your RSS
    feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the awesome work.

  54. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a
    different web page and thought I might check things out.
    I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward
    to looking over your web page again.

  55. This is very fascinating, You are a very professional blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and stay up for in quest of extra of your great post.
    Additionally, I’ve shared your site in my social

  56. Thanks for the good writeup. It in fact was once a leisure account it.
    Glance complex to more introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how
    could we communicate?

  57. Anyone who says that Facebook, Twitter, My – Space, and the like can be a ‘trend’ that will soon pass is just not steering you in the right direction. Internet marketing is less expensive
    than printed ads, radio or TV. Keeping track of how customers
    view your small business, and reacting with it over time, may also be not enough.

Leave a Reply

Take a look at our comprehensive guide to the best and most popular information ebooks and products available today on Detoxing, Colon Cleansing, Weight Loss and Dating and Romance. They are all in one spot, easy to find and compere to make a quick selection for the product that best fits your needs or wants.

So browse through a category and make your  preferred selection and come back here to read  more choice articles and get a few more helpful tips on ways to help your enhancement.

Detoxing Reviews

Best Body Detoxification Guides & reviews

Colon Cleanse Reviews

Best Colon Cleanse Guides & Reviews

Weight Loss Ebook Reviews

Weight loss products really work! Click here

Dating and Romance Ebook Reviews

Looking for Dating Guides? Click here

Free Traffic System - Increase Targeted Website Traffic with Free Unlimited One Way Links

As an Amazon Associate this site earn from qualifying purchases. “Saubio Relationships is a participant in third party affiliate and advertising programs; The Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and other affiliate advertising programs are designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees and commissions by advertising and linking to products on other sites and on Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.”