Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) are strong compulsive behaviors that target a part of one’s body. Examples of common BFRBs are:
- Compulsive hair pulling (Trichotillomania)
- Hair nibbling or eating (Trichophagia)
- Nail biting
- Skin picking (Excoriation)
- Nose picking
Those who struggle with BFRBs may experience satisfaction from the repetitive behavior in the moment but usually don’t like the lasting effects of their habit, as it can cause damage to the body (scars from skin picking or bald spots from hair pulling) and result in feelings of deep frustration and guilt. Even with this dislike, however, it is extremely difficult to stop from engaging in the behavior.
BFRBs can be different for each individual. Someone may be pulling his/her hair in response to a strong urge that just won’t go away, while another person may be picking at their skin in an effort to remove a perceived defect (in which case, there may be a co-existing diagnosis of Body Dysmorphic Disorder). Still someone else may be biting their nails to achieve sensory gratification. In all cases, it is possible to gain control over your habit and effectively manage your symptoms.