BFRB’s, or body-focused repetitive behaviors, is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions that include excoriation disorder (skin picking), trichotillomania (hair pulling), nail biting, cheek biting, and other BFRBs that arise as a form of obsessive compulsive disorder.
In particular, I wanted to share my experience with excoriation disorder, or dermatillomania, since my early teens. This repetitive picking of one’s own skin affects 2-5% of the population in which noticeable tissue damage and impacts daily functioning, with 75% of the people affected are female. Despite this prevalence of dermatillomania, little research has been done to effectively find medications that can help to alleviate this, aside from cognitive behavioral therapy.
The signs and symptoms criteria include recurrent skin picking that results in skin lesions, repeated attempt to stop the behavior, the symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment, the symptoms are not caused by a substance or medical condition, and the symptoms are not better explained by another psychiatric disorder. There can be significant impacts on skin picking disorder, including shame and embarrassment, emotional distress, anxiety disorder, and medical complications such as infection and scarring of the wounds.
As someone with dermatillomania, I have tried many things to alleviate this cycle, but have found it very difficult to help. I have tried therapy as well and would like to continue to do more. While as common as it is, if you feel like you may have some body focused repetitive behavior, remember that you are certainly not alone, and it does not define who you are or what you look like. People often do not realize that this is something that gets beyond your control. Continue to love yourself as you are, and get help as you need to.
Do you have any BFRBs? Do you associate them with anxiety and depressive symptoms? Have you tried anything to break these habits?