Body- Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs)

Body- Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) is an umbrella term for any chronic behavior that causes a person to consistently cause physical damage to oneself unintentionally through a compulsive act in order to relieve anxiety. BFRBs are pathological grooming behaviors that are thought to be driven by similar impulsive urges, linking them together but manifesting differently in the following ways:


Dermatillomania/ Excoriation Disorder
: Compulsive Skin Picking/ Chronic Skin Picking (CSP), Dermatillomania, Skin Picking Disorder, Acne Excoriee, Neurotic Excoriation, Pathological Skin Picking (PSP), Self Injurious Skin Picking (SISP) and Psychogenic Excoriation are all terms used to describe a psychological disorder that manifests by an overwhelming urge to pick at one’s own skin to the extent that damage is caused. (see more…)

Dermatophagia: This skin biting disorder often coincides with Onychophagia. Most sufferers with Dermatophagia bite the skin around their fingers compulsively. This disorder also includes those who compulsively bite their cheeks or their lips which can cause blistering and open wounds. Some sufferers of Dermatophagia also have Dermatillomania and feel compelled to pick at the healing or calloused skin (with teeth, nails, or “tools”).

Onychophagia: One of the most common BFRB’s, Onychophagia is the medical term for compulsive nail biting. This disorder is socially acceptable and often deemed a “habit”. Complications may occur when nails are bitten down to the cuticle, causing debilitating pain and possibly infection.

Onychotillomania: Not to be confused with Onychophagia, Onychotillomania is the compulsive need to pick at or tear off one’s nails, named by Polish dermatologist Jan Alkiewicz.

Rhinotillexomania: While most common in children, Rhinotillexomania (compulsive nose picking) affects many adults on a universal scale. Most people who pick their nose habitually do not have a BFRB; however, it becomes problematic when a sufferer continually causes damage to his/ her nose and is unable to stop the compulsive behavior, much like Dermatillomania, and both are treated in the same manner. Rhinotillexomania has the additional risk factor of infections because the “danger triangle” consists of sharing the same blood flow from the bridge of the nose to each corner of the mouth making it easier for infections to travel to the brain.

Compulsive Nail/ Finger Biting

Onychophagia or Dermatophagia?

Scab Eating Disorder: How Trichophagia relates to Trichotillomania is how Dermatillomania coincides with Scab Eating Disorder where a smaller percentage of those who pick their skin finish their picking ritual by eating the piece of skin that is removed from the body. If medically recognized, this problem should follow the Greek system of naming and be called “Dermaphagia”, although it has potential to be confused with “Dermatophagia”.

Trichophagia: This disorder, often a sub-category of Trichotillomania, is the term for the hair eating disorder. Some sufferers of Trichophagia eat hair off of brushes (their own or others) or chew their own hair and ingest it. It sometimes coincides with Trichotillomania after a pull as part of a ritual in order to achieve relief from anxiety. This disorder can be dangerous as hairs accumulate in the stomach which can result in surgery to remove the blockage it causes.

Trichotemnomania: This behavior is the conscious act of compulsively shaving or cutting one’s own hair. A sufferer can be drawn to these behaviors as stress relievers because it can signify a form of cleansing or need for perfection, which teeters into the OCD spectrum or Body Dysmorphic Disorder categories- it’s not a clear-cut BFRB. The media may play a role in influencing this behavior with western culture focused on the cleanliness and perfection surrounding a flawless image when pertaining to a lack of body hair.

Trichotillomania: A “sister syndrome” to Dermatillomania, this disorder most commonly causes a sufferer to pull out hairs from his/ her scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or facial hair. While these are the most known areas (due to the distress it can cause a sufferer) of focus Trichotillomania expands to the compulsive pulling of any bodily hair. Often times it crosses over with skin picking due to the fine line of relieving anxiety by a pick or pull, directly affecting a sensation on the skin.

 

 

Many people who have one BFRB find themselves with traits of others because of how interlinked they are due to how the impulse affects them. It is important to speak to your physician or therapist if you are concerned about having any of these BFRB’s while keeping in mind the difference between having a habit or having a chronic condition.

 

While there are other behaviors that are considered to be harmful to the body when practiced compulsively, they fall under the Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum, Impulse Control Disorder, or triggered by Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or other mental health afflictions instead of being BFRB’s. These behaviors may relieve anxiety in a person but when an external factor is brought into the equation causing it to not be a direct effect of body-to-body contact (although Trichotemnomania is in the “grey area”), it does not fall under the category of Body- Focused Repetitive Behaviors. This list includes:

  • Excessive tanning
  • Compulsive hand- washing and/ or showering
  • Obsession/ Addiction to plastic surgery
  • Excessive tattooing/ body piercing
  • Weight Modification (turning into a disorder, such as Anorexia, Bulimia, or Muscle Dysphoria)
  • Compulsive exercising
  • Cutting/ Burning (see #3)

Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and addictive drugs/ medications all fall under the Addiction category; these are also separate from BFRB’s because they are chemically induced. Although not all addiction is purely chemical for some people (others have emotional/ psychological attachments to the drug), these substances contain elements that have an external influence, which BFRB’s do not.

Although OCD, Habits, Impulse Control Disorders, Addictions, and BFRB’s have similarities based on their effects on a person, they have components to their categorizations that separate them from each other, even if seemingly on an acute level. What can be agreed on is that each behavior listed in these categories can require counseling to overcome and people are able to benefit from support groups available for each affliction. There are a lack of supports available due to a lack of awareness, research, or training, which makes it vital for the community to band together and build onto the small lists of resources already available.

 

Check out the five star documentary Scars of Shame and Angela’s ground- breaking memoir FOREVER MARKED: A Dermatillomania Diary. Like Angela on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and join her on Tumblr.
Learn about Angela’s surprising recovery from Dermatillomania here!
 
  • Another great post! I suffer from dermatillomania but I also chew compulsively at the skin around my nails – I had no idea there was another name for this! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • amie

      Yeah I had no idea it had a name either other than OCD. I’ve suffered my entire life with this and at times, my feet and hands would be so raw from picking and pulling the skin that I could barely get out of bed and go to school. It was incredibly painful. I couldn’t explain it to my parents because they had no idea what it was when I was a kid either. I just kept going to therapists, psychiatrists, physical doctors for prescription wound dressing, etc. I thought I’d never feel good and painless enough to hang out with “normal” people. At the end of high school, I stopped almost completely after being put on (a benzo) but just recently started back because of the ADHD medication. It’s embarrassing and shameful. Sometimes I don’t even know if seeing my psych is worth it and maybe I really should be locked up for good for picking myself. I constantly have sores and raw areas on my feet and fingers and I swear there aren’t enough bandaids in the world to heal myself. Thanks for your honesty and encouragement. Together, we can all beat this.

      • Shaun Heckerman

        You should be locked up for feeling and talking this way about yourself sweetheart. Give yourself a break and relax.

    • Thank you, Sammie! I hope your followers have found this page informative, educational, and most importantly, helpful to them. <3

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  • Jennifer

    Eat my fingers, pick my face, and chew inside my mouth I’m 48 years old and have been doing this since I was a child and find it quite unbeliveable that there is now a name for this. How does it come about that names are made up for things that have been around so long?

  • Elizabeth

    I am sooooo relieve that not only is there a name for what I do, but that I’m also not alone. Infact this brings a major relief. I do SPD (Scab Picking Disorder) and SED (Scap Eating Disorder) and have been quite embarrassed about it for quite sometime. I haven’t worn summer clothes in quite sometime and definitely don’t wear dresses for fear of people noticing the scars on my legs.

  • What a relief to read about skin picking disorder. I only just learned about it and it was by accident. Again, I thought I was the only person around that had this problem and it has caused me much self doubt and pain. I am thinking about starting a support group in my area for people like myself who have suffered so much from this disorder for many years alone. I can only suggest that others also reach out for support because it can stop. When I read about the disorder last week, I stopped picking for the most part and now have an understanding of how to think about what I am doing. The most important statement I read was that picking was an effort to get a solution, a resolution or to get to the bottom of a problem. (That was a paraphrase) For me, getting out of my skin what I thought was causing the pimple so it would go away was what drove the daily picking. Just knowing there is such a disorder was healing. Find a support group or start one is my advice. Bless everyone.

  • Mad

    My daughter seems to be going bald at the crown of her head. She has had three sores on her head (from picking) for at least six months now. Will the hair ever be able to grow back if there is scar tissue there? I would love a reply! Thanks!

    • 007Girl

      I suffer from many of these. As a child, I picked my scalp to create scabs to eat. Thankfully, I still have a full head of hair as an adult. Since childhood, I have shifted from scalp picking and scab eating, to nail biting, finger biting, and eyelash pulling. I never knew these had a name.

  • Q

    I’m in my 40’s. I thought I was the only one in the world who picked at my face, something I’ve done since age 12. I still do it to relieve stress, but not as badly as when I was younger. I feel horrified that I would pick for hours, then have a face so red I couldn’t hide it under makeup and would have to take the day off from school. I’ve been through years of therapy, but it’s a stress reliever I still use and am ashamed about.

  • Muir

    These are far more than just ‘conditions’ – they are prison sentences and I know because I suffered for 33 years. I am now 45 years old and can promise you can leave this behaviour behind and move on. I seriously never thought I would and for years was searching for magic answers. I suffered from Dermatillomania from the age of 12 -45 and food disorders into my early 20s leaving me depressed with low self-esteem and unable to cope with social situations. The only thing I can say is that there is no fanfare solution but a long (for me anyway) process of self-forgiveness and understanding. Eventually my food disorder lessened and vanished and over a period of 10 years my Dermatillomania lessened and the compulsion stopped. It has taken hard work and efforts in directions I had no idea of trying or considered they would work.

    My advice is to face this head on and accept that you are not gross – you are a human who needs love and compassion because all of these conditions above are as painful and debilitating as any more socially beautiful illness. Talk to other sufferers and don’t be scared to give this a name and work to the day when you are proud to say that you beat it. Just take one day at a time, find good things to immerse yourself in and don’t beat yourself up.

    Be positive! I found my intense knowledge of the human face (from staring and picking at it for hours every day) gave me a great insight into portrait sculpture and from that I’ve found a new hobby that is both absorbing and calming.

    Stay strong! x

    • Broken chocolate

      Prison sentence…that phrase is so right

  • Share

    I suffer from trichotemnomania .i have been cutting for 20 plus years. I am so tired of this behavior . I have tired everything to stop or control the behaviors including percribed drugs ,therapy talk and behavioral ,vitamins I have even hide my hair with extensions which temporally helped but I began not being able to be without and ended up with bald and damaged hair that doesn’t seem to be getting better.i am praying desperately that something is out there to help .

  • Victoria

    I have like all of these… I never thought any of my habits were so popular or even had names. I’ve recently started chewing and sucking on my fingers. I guess I need some serious therapy. Who knew I had so many issues. I suddenly feel like I don’t know myself. 🙁

  • I am weirded out by all the stuff that’s wrong with me.I’m freaking out.I’m gonna get a doctor cause this is crazy.

  • DisTressed

    I’m also a hair cutter, skin picker, eyebrow rubber/puller, weight focused. It’s exhausting, all of it. I’ve had times of remission where i’ve let my hair grow long. the past 3 yrs i’ve been in a buzz cut cycle that i’m sick to death of so i’m wearing a beanie trying to keep it covered hoping it will grow that way. we have no mirrors in our home. i’m 44 and my skin is red and scabby and hurts. I don’t know how my husband can stand me!!!!

    • Broken chocolate

      I never thought of it like that; so very exhausting. But your right. Your lime my age & I have a 13 year old. No husband but a boyfriend & I don’t know how he stands me either. I feel so gross. I flinch when he touches my back. Maybe by now you have gotten help? If so please let me know, if not ill tell you what my psychiatrist says next week. Good luck

  • kwlovesyou97

    Wow I used to think that I was the only one who does these things. I’m so glad I’m not alone. I am getting tired of the pain of my lip trying to heal itself……

  • Amanda Hansch

    Im 22 almost 23 years old still feel like a freak and weirdo. I have been picking for 5 maybe 6 years things have gotten bad the last year and im begining to wonder if being a new mom to a 1 year old could be a trigger.. even writing im a picker makes me tear up in shame. I read an artical last night about a girl who did the same thing and ended up picking through her skull to her brain… Scared the shit out of me. Im a little happy i started reading tho i have almost made it a full 24 hours without picking. Scanned a few times but not picked. My left side of my neck hurts into my ear and temple where my sores are the deepest. Lymph nodes are swollen throat hurts runny nose. I am so scared. I honestly didnt even realize how bad i was about it till my bf started reading me blogs on others just like me. All i could do was pull the covers over my face and cried hard for a long time. I still cant look at pictures of other scores and its weird the thought makes me cring… Why!!! Why have i done this to my self…. My nails are even sore. I have never writen anything like this and never thought i would do this to my self. I am terrified my emotions are all over the place. I cant eat or sleep and i keep sweating. I understand i am not alone but i still feel alone. Even tho my bf is showing he wants to help im so ashamedand and embarrassed. I have saved a few scalp picking website on my phone and have opened and read blogs as a distraction from the urge to pick. I want to stop i have to!!!

  • Rebecca

    I’ve always picked and bitten dead skin especially around my nails and thumbs. I never realized how bad it actually was until people kept asking me what was wrong with my hands. I always do it when I’m stressed or whatever so I don’t even notice when I’m bleeding or have started to pick off live skin. I have tried to stop but just started biting my lips instead and sometimes it’s so bad I wake up with my lips literally glued together with blood. I had NO idea there was a name for it or that it was a disorder. This has been so helpful thank you. 🙂

  • Becca

    I’ve been a nail biter, skin picker (fingers, lip and inside of my cheeks) for as long as I can remember. it really started I believe around the time my parents got divorce. I was 3 or 4 at the time. it’s hard to believe I was only that little, but my mom and grandma used to tell me to quit chewing my fingers all the time. it got to the point where my grandma was literally bribing me to stop. she’d pay me a dollar for every nail I could grow past my fingers. unfortunately I never made a dollar from her because I couldn’t stop. when she passed away in 2005, I quit chewing on my nails as bad but moved instead to the skin around my fingers. from there it turned into lip picking and cheek biting. I’ve been biting my fingers to the point where they bleed and I’ll pick my lip raw to the point where they crack and bleed. I’ve been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder since I was 15 and on my 18th birthday I was diagnosed as bipolar. the most embarrasing part of all this is I don’t dispose of the skin in the trash.. I eat it. all of it. and I’ll sit and eat my skin for hours. I have multiple scars and calluses on my fingers and I have calluses on the inside of my cheeks. I’ve always been ashamed to share my story, but maybe it’ll find someone who can help me. cause I know it isn’t good for me and I need to show my daughter that it’s a dirty habit to start and even harder to stop.

  • Marie Whitley

    My husband used to be a cutter. He described it like a RELEASE from the build up from internal pain. He said the pain felt good, like a release of pressure.

    Which is NOT true for everyone. His sister decided to try it, and she said it just freaking HURT! While I obviously don’t make light of cutting…that cracked me up! What a dumbass!!!😆

    For those people feeling this way, it’s more common than you think. And it REALLY helps to talk to someone.

  • Michelle

    Reading all your stories makes me feel better about myself that I’m not alone in this. I know it’s a bad thing to do and I hate myself for it afterwards, but I can’t seem to stop either. Reading the descriptions of the disorders and the behavior while doing it all hits home for me. I’ve bit my nails as far back as I can remember, I also picked my scabs and have lots of old scars from them. I still pick at my face, bite my nails and “groom” my scalp and skin for imperfections. I’m not fully aware of when I’m doing it – the damage I’m causing because I do go into that trance like state that’s mentioned…almost like I’m zoned out and drugged, then I snap out of it and 2-3 hours have passed of me just standing in front of a mirror. My nails and skin around them right now look like someone shredded them. I hate it. I remember going out to eat with friends and hiding my fingers every time I could. This has plagued me since I was really little. I’m also OCD about certain things, I have to have 3 paper towels when drying my hands, wash my hair twice, I have to touch the lock to know the door is locked even if I see it’s locked. After reading all this and realizing the sick feeling I get with the aftermath of my skin and nails, I think I need to see a doctor and explain what all this is. Maybe I need some kind of therapy or medication. I’ve also become plagued with an obsession with food, an unhealthy relationship with it. It really got worse after my divorce a few years ago. Like if I buy cookie dough and make 30 cookies, I’ll sit there and eat them all…I can finish off a large pizza. I’m not a big girl but my weight has climbed and it’s miserable being this way. I then punish myself or feel ashamed, I’ve done extreme dieting, starved myself then later on, I binge. I’ve only made myself throw up once (when I was drunk over 10 years ago) just to see if I could. I don’t know what’s triggered all this. I know I’ve always been the shy, quiet loner and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more of a hermit than ever before. I just want this all under control. Just turned 36, it would be nice to truly be ok for once in my life.

    • Ashley Hills

      I can relate to you on so many levels. I’m 33 and have only realized this year that my anxiety was linked to my compulsive grooming habits. Have you found any relief?

      • Michelle

        So I’ve noticed that since I started dating again, a lot of this has gone away. Not sure if it’s the stress going down or maybe I’m more aware when I’m doing it now. I stopped biting my nails completely and now have long nails. I don’t pick at my skin anymore…an occasional pimple or scratch here and there. Not sure…maybe when I’m too alone or my self esteem is in the gutter, it triggers me to be worse. Guess I’m relating happiness to not picking. It’s a major improvement

    • Jenn Bowman

      I read something once that theorized these behaviors could have something to do with levels of dopamine, which also explains a meth-users extreme picking. Interesting theory because I noticed sometimes I pick after an orgasm. I’m the opposite of stressed. I’m zoned out and flooded with dopamine. This theory of course doesn’t explain all behaviors though it is likely one explanation of several for why we do this.

      • Jenn Bowman

        I can also relate to the binge eating. We can help and support each other; support groups are a big part of overcoming these disorders I know, too.

    • Margaret Christensen

      I get in that zone when I’m biting the inside of my mouth. Hours,would go by and I would think I need to eat and go go bed but I couldn’t do it.

  • Angel Fish

    Could anyone relate to me? I complusively scratch at myself and eat the skin that scrapes off… I’ve never once admitted to this in years to anyone and am just looking for someone who can help me stop.

  • Mr Ree

    I too pick at my cuticles sometimes they bleed. I pick my lip cause I feel dried skin on lips, past 20 years shave body hair off I see it and to me feels likev I’m dirty, I pick my eyebrows out leaving bare spots

  • Shan

    I scratch until I bleed, then pick the sores for months! The more infected they become, the better I feel. The pain feels good, unfortunately. All my life I’ve bitten my nails and lightly picked sores, but never caused them. I started having no control over my picking after my dad died. I began scratching myself to cause wounds, horrible sores! I enjoy eating the scabs (so sick!) I even love to look at all the terrible scars I’ve made! When people ask about them, I tell them they were caused by accidents, cat scratches, etc. People believe me (especially my family) because I am a klutz!
    This all took on a life of its own when my father became ill with cancer. He suffered from cancer for 4 years, then died at home in Hospice. I was in charge of giving him his medications. I feel really guilty that part of me was ready for him to pass on the last months of his life. He was so very ill that he just wasn’t my dad any more. He was suffering so very much! The night he died Hospice gave me a new medication to give him to help ease his coughing. He was also taking morphine. I was told to give him both medications, so I did. It was very hard to make sure the dose was exact, as the drugs were administered with an eye dropper. He passed away that night. What if I screwed up and killed him? I didn’t mean to-or want to-but I can’t get past this horrible guilt! I finally admitted this to my doctor and my mom. They tell me it wasn’t in any way my fault, but I can’t forgive myself!!
    My doctor upped my medication for anxiety, but it’s just not helping enough. I’m not as depressed or fixated on my dad’s death, but I just feel blah, no joy for life. I’m very able to shove those feelings into a dark part of my brain while I’m around others-nobody suspects a thing. I’m cheerful and friendly- and faking it BIG time! I am definitely NOT suicidal, thank the Lord. I just want to crawl into a dark cave and pull in a stone behind me to hide from the world. I’m so glad I’ve finally found others who understand this horror!

    So, here’s my biggest question, now that I have discovered that this is a mental illness even worse than anxiety,do any of you save your blood? Since my dad’s death, I wipe mine on a pillow case (really gross, huh?). I have to add to my disgusting “collection” every night. I have to touch it and smell it because it relaxes me! One of my favorite sweaters got blood on it from one scratch. I have to wear it at home, and I can’t bear to wash it. It has an icky smell, and I crave that too. I feel as if I have gone off the deep end here into the weirdness pool! My doctor recommended that I see a psychologist, but she is booked up for 6 more weeks. Part of me is relieved, as I HATE talking about this with “normal” people. I don’t know if I can tell her about the pillowcase, the bloody sweater, and my other strange addictions. I don’t know if I am prepared to give them up! I could really use some advice from all of you and some moral support. This is SO HARD! It’s taken over my life!

    • Sarah

      Hey, Shan.
      I hope you get this reply. I just came across this discussion after I picked and scratched my scalp, back, shoulders, chest, and face completely raw all the while, ingesting the bits I picked. I always feel so disgusting and gross. I try my best to hide it from others. Although my symptoms are not as severe as yours they have gotten to the point of obsession, much like you described. I find that I’m so busy and distracted that I don’t do it as much as I probably could if I were by myself and succumed to lonely moments but when I am alone and bored, I cause serious damage. It sounds to me like you have a lot of deep seeded guilt that you may not quite understand or even question but it comes out in your obsessive behavior. I know I have awful issues with self esteem. I’m even better at hiding them. The psychologist may be booked for awhile but book that now and then maybe ask your doc for another recommendation in the meantime? I know it always helps to talk to someone. I’m in denial of how bad this gets so I choose to do my own therapy exercises. I ordered myself a chewy tube for the biting and eating part and I will at times play with a fidgit toy or wrap and unwrap my fingers with a rubber band. And sometimes I journal everything I’m doing or want to do when I’m feeling tense or bored. I feel like if I write down what I’m doing to my skin I’ll make myself more aware of the damage I’m inflicting. OCD comes in many forms and its so hard to break yourself from routine.

    • Shaun Heckerman

      Hey Shan, and everyone else here for that matter. None of you should feel ashamed or embarrassed. You all should realize that everyone has issues in some way or another. Shan have you ever thought that you probably did your dad a favor letting him go if in fact you had anything to do with it? Put yourself in his shoes. I don’t think you would want to suffer and he didn’t either. All of you please stop being so hard on yourselves. We are only here once so why not try and just be happy for once? Nothing that we have or really nothing that we even do will mean anything once we’re gone so just focus on making this life as happy for yourself as you can. Stop worrying about what other people think also. I used to be really really depressed when everything in my life started falling apart and one day I just opened my eyes and realized that none of it mattered. I tried I either failed or something else fucked things up but I tried regardless. I was so tired of being sad everyday that I just got this new attitude where I don’t care what anyone thinks about me. If I’m okay with not being perfect that’s good enough for me. I don’t make other people feel bad about themselves and I’m not going to let anyone make me feel that way, not friends, not family, not anyone. And one more thing I’d like to say to all of you is that the weird people are the fun people to hang out with. The people that go out of their way to fit in to society are the ones who are hiding something, and it’s usually something really bad. Be happy you’re strange because believe it or not, more people prefer people like all of you on here rather than the boring normal. If what you do isn’t hurting anyone who cares that you do it? I don’t. If you like doing it you should keep doing it just without the negative attitude. No one has the right to judge you and if they do then they really are reflecting something they don’t like about themselves. No one has the right to affect someone so they aren’t happy. If you have people like that in your life I suggest getting rid of them. And please please please just be happy and know you are worth more than you think you are. Thank you for listening to me.

  • Hannah Burkle

    It’s so great to know how many other people struggle with this. I thought it was just a gross habit that my friends make fun of me for. I found out this was a thing when I watched a video I saw on Facebook by refinery 29 “I have an anxiety condition that forces me to uncontrollably Pick at my skin” it’s a great video and everyone should watch it. I have bitten my nails for as long as I can remember, I think it really started because my mom would pick at nail polish in her beautiful perfect long nails when I was young and it gradully got worse as I grew older. I have extreme ADD and anxiety so especially when I’m trying to get things done I get distracted by my nails and I’ll find tweezers or nail clippers to pick something off of them to the point of bleeding and a ton of pain which then grows to scans which I also pick at a lot now too. I’ll even be in a two hour class picking and biting and not hear a word that a professor is saying to me. I’m a super clean freak and I know your hands touch just about everything but I still can’t stop. I also get sick a lot and I’m sure that has to do a lot with having my fingers in my mouth constantly, even though yes j do wash my hands quite often. Ive tried “no bite” nail Polish on my nails and just about everything else but nothing helps. It’s good to put a name to a face if you will with what is wrong with me I always just thought it was a nervous habit. I’m glad that there is a community who also struggles with this that I can relate to! Anyone wants to talk just chat me up cuz I know it’s good to have a friend who’s in the same boat!

  • dwsrqeiqefewb

    Dermatophagia…. I think. I bite my knuckles compulsively……

  • Broken chocolate

    I am reading this now with a sore shoulder and arm. I pick my face but not as bad cuz it’s visible. My back is a mess from years of constant picking. I was in an abusive relatio ship for years; that’s when it was really bad. Been doing this for as long as I can remember & I slightly hate myself for it. Want to stop so bad but everyday it’s the same relief & the same shame. I never get naked when I’m intimate & always wear a t shirt when I swim. Now I have a terrible scar on my ankle & summer is coming…no sandles for me. I feel sick after but I zone out while I’m doing it. Can spend hours in the mirror. Ppl have looked at me like I’m some kind of Meth head; it’s so embarrassing. I’m just glad I’m not alone in my pain. I’m 35 & want to go to the dermatologist to remove the old scars but can’t stop making new ones. Never had the urge to eat them, although I do have to look at them and kinda crumble them in my fingers. Only told 1 person in my whole life abt this…this forum is a relief. I just started seeing a psychiatrist but haven’t told him yet. Scared he can’t help. I feel so trapped…

  • Alacia Ward

    Recently I ended things with my highschool sweet heart. We had been together for five years and decided it was just best to remain friends. However, today he tagged me in a video of a young woman talking about BFRB and how it has affected her. I’m here at work and I literally am about to start crying. I never knew that what I was experiencing was a disorder or that anyone else even dealt with it for that matter. When I was with my ex I would always ask to pick at the bumps on his face, bite his nails, scratch at his skin or pull hairs from his body. At first he thought it was cute and let me do it but it soon turned sour. He would yell and scream at me if I even touched his face. He would ask me what’s wrong with me. I began to feel empty. It hurt me that I couldn’t do those things to him anymore and the acne on my face cleared up so I couldn’t do it to myself either. When I couldn’t pick at myself I would get so agitated and uneasy. I’ve began to start plucking hairs now as well. When I was younger I use to eat my sisters hair; I still eat my hair sometimes. Seeing this makes me feel normal. I don’t feel like a freak anymore because what I’m dealing with is actually a condition. It isn’t so bad that I can’t function and live my life so I don’t think I’m going to seek help. But it does give me a sense of relief that there are others like me. I think today my ex realized that what I was experiencing was much more than surface level. I think today my ex realized bfrb is a real anxiety disorder.

  • Courtney

    The first time I started picking was in high school when I would chew on any dry skin on my lips and it would leave my lips a bloody chapped mess. Its gotten so bad that now it manifests itself in many different ways. I still chew on my lip but I also use my fingers to pluck at my eyebrows, my eyelashes, even my nose hairs! My eyelashes would get a not quite itchy sensation around where they exited the skin so I would scratch and eventually loosen and pluck my eyelashes. I scratch my scalp (but i don’t pull here thank goodness) and my back because I’m obsessed with getting the dry skin off (dead skin +sebum=whitish grayish granules that I then pick out of my nails.) I even do this on my face. I’ll run my fingers on my face and neck and try to find any rough patches. Its gotten to the point where I shave my face (I’m a woman). I really wish that I could just stop but I find myself doing it while I’m on autopilot.

  • sophie

    wow! i can’t believe how many people also suffer from this? im 16 and i chew&eat my eyelash and head hair follicles. i began picking out my pubic hair, chewing then disposing of it and now i have begun with head hair&eyelash follicles but now i am eating them. i have read other peoples comments and they claim it is associated with depression, anxiety and OCD. i believe i possess symptoms associated with depression&OCD. Should i look further into this, please help! :/

  • Jenn Bowman

    I cannot believe it took me so long to find this site. I’m a picker. Have been for over a decade. Have known about it as a medically recognized disorder for just a couple years now, and that was honestly pretty relieving to come across I’ve made a commitment to myself (for probably the 14th time) that starting tomorrow, my focus will be almost entirely on self-improvement which of course calls for the banishment of picking from my life. I realized that I would have to take real steps if I want to quit picking this time, and I figured education would be a great way to start working on my mind. Thank you sincerely to whoever compiled this website, and thanks to the divine source that led me here 🙂

  • ImNotAlone84

    I too do all of the above minus the hair pulling and eating. I do eat scabs, boogers and skin. I also search for bumps that are hard and scratch them to eat. I eat my hard zits, not the mushy ones. If i drop and can’t find it i feel like a anxiety attack is coming so i have to hurry and use my cuticle trimmers to get a cuticle. but all the while im thinking about the one i lost. I have only spoken about eating boogers while pregnant and that’s because my mom caught me and brought it up in front of my fiance. I’m 32 btw. I was actually out for the whole day with him this past Sunday and wasn’t able to get the shit ton of boogers in my nose seeing as we were at the beach and i can’t have him find out I’m a weirdo. I felt so compelled to sneak one when he wasn’t looking then i felt like i couldn’t do it then kiss him without brushing. I honestly am glad i found this group i feel like im not so alone. especially being a female makes is seem all the worse. like men can take the beating heart out of a deer and take a bite, but eating ourselves still seems grotesque. Thank you for giving me some freedom in knowing I’m not gross but that i have a disorder. I honestly think it started when i was molested by a woman when i was only 6. Plus losing a daughter in 2005 that’s when the pimple eating and self inflicting pain started. Now I dont cut but the other stuff i would like to stop being having anxiety makes it so much harder to quit and i feel its not safe nor very hygienic.

  • Spacen

    I’ve picked the skin on my fingers all my life. Idek when it started. In the past few years I’ve moved to just picking my thumbs. I pick generally pretty thin layers, but over the course of days. They eventually bleed and scab over and then the process starts all over again from the scab. I also have some sort of sensory addiction I think? I have a little piece of a blanket I’ve had since I was born (used to be a full size blanket) and I have this obsession with rubbing my picked fingers against it. Something about the feeling of the loose skin against the fabric is comforting to me. This is usually accompanied by extreme sniffing of the blanket and grinding of my teeth. I’ve never met anyone else who had anything similar to that, but it’s good to know I’m not the only skin picker out there. I just wish I knew why I’m like this and what I can do about it. My biggest fear is that someday this little blanket will finally fall apart and I will no longer have it to rub my fingers against. It’s already slowly ripping in certain areas. I’ve thought about having something like playdough to discourage my picking, but I’m nervous about what people will say in my classes…

    • Margaret Christensen

      I have sensory issues too. When ibwas a kid my shoes had to be so tight they would cut off circulation, plus they had to be evenly tight. If not I would have meltdowns. I also would only wear jeans wth elastic waists. I still have issues with bras. I had Tourette syndrome though. I mean, i still have it but to a lesser degree. The worst thing is I bite the insides of my lips, also the dry skin of my lips, but I chew,on the same spot trying to get that last bit of hanging skin that will make it feel smoothed out, which never happens. I have chronic back pain and my pain meds jacked up my teeth and the worst part of losing the front ones was not being able to chew my lips and cheeks. I had the all-on-four, so its like my regular teeth, so I can do it again. Apparently this started when i was a baby according to my mom, cause I would end up with tons of cancer sores. In junior high i always had a minimum of 4 or 5 large cankers and my lips were always swollen and i was ridiculed for that. I lived on Carnation instant breakfast.
      I am also a picker, have had a crazy itch rash for over 2 months and some parts that were a line I’ve scratched until it’s one long ulcer, then i keep picking the scabs off even though it hurts. I’m also a picker of zits and blackheads. If I can get a super long blackheads that i get out in one piece it’s incredibly satisfying. I got one from my back where I could barely reach, and it was a good 2 cm. That spot is scabbed and has been there 2 months, andstill itches so I suspect another core in there. I don’t eat them but I stick them on my bathroom mirror to admire them for a while. My friend, who was awesome and popped my back ones used to joke that i should frame them lol. Thank God I’m not alone in this.

  • Courtney Overton

    I’m 13 quite young for the community here. I use my fingers and push on the outside of my lips and cheeks, and I pull the skin off and eat it I then proceed to go deeper until I can no longer bare the pain and I am swallowing pools of blood. My parents understand that I can’t help it ,sometimes. My dad says when they have a long day of telling me to stop, “I don’t understand how you don’t know your doing it!” My therapist, of 6 and a half years, has told me different ways he thinks would help me stop, but none have worked. He is not a specialist in BFRB, and I haven’t been to a psychologyst. My biological mother is diagnosed with bi polar and schizophrenic tendencies. My father is not clinically diagnosed but clearly has OCD. My parents have given up trying and, hAve now resulted in trying to scare me into stopping by telling me I’m gonna end up smoking. I honestly don’t know what to do. Anyone have any ideas?

  • Brittany

    does anyone with any skin picking disoder (not picking fingers) get sore tips of fingers. I have excoriation disorder and the tip of my middle finger burns. I believe from tiny abrasions from my nails hitting it and constant scraping of any discharge . you may not have the same experience but i’d be interested in any impact it has on your fingers ?