Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are self-grooming behaviors that include pulling, picking, biting or scraping one's hair, skin or nails. These behaviors can result in physical injury such as scarring or baldness, and in serious emotional distress for the afflicted individual. While many people think of hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting as merely "bad habits" that can be controlled, people with trichotillomania (repetitive hair pulling) or dermatillomania (repetitive skin picking) find that the behavior defies explanation and treatment, and may even impair their ability to socialize or function occupationally.
The prevalence of BFRBs is estimated to be 3 percent of the population. A precision medicine initiative launched by the Trichotillomania Learning Center is now underway to better understand the genetics and neurobiology of these disorders. Treatment recommendations presently include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication and select supplements, but one goal of the initiative is to identify distinct subtypes of both skin pickers and hair pullers so as to offer tailored treatments to all who suffer from body-focused disorders.