Mental health Netdoctor & Patient Info

Skin-picking and hair-pulling: managing body-focused repetitive behaviours

Body-focused repetitive behaviours (BFRBs), such as pulling your hair out or picking your skin, are often dismissed as bad habits. However, for some people these are complex disorders requiring treatment.

If you’ve ever bitten your nails, squeezed a spot or tweezed out a rogue chin hair, you probably didn’t think too much of it. We all have habits, and avoiding these behaviours altogether would make you the exception and not the rule.

However, for some people these behaviours are more than just a habit or tic. Around one in 20 people are thought to suffer with a ‘body-focused repetitive behaviour’ (BFRB). These can include, for example, trichotillomania (pulling your hair out) or dermatillomania (compulsive skin-picking).

In these cases, the behaviour is repeated and hard to stop. It can cause damage to the body – sometimes serious – along with emotional distress.

“These are ‘disorders’ rather than just habits that everyone experiences, so they have a large impact on people’s lives,” says a spokesperson for the charity OCD Action.

Read the rest of this article at Patient

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