Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors

Body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) is a general term for a group of related disorders that includes hair pulling, skin picking, and nail-biting. They are complex disorders that cause people to repeatedly touch their hair and body in ways that result in physical damage.

What are Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs)?

From biting your nails to the quick, to compulsively pulling out your hair, to repetitively picking at the skin on your face, BFRBs is a disorder that encompasses a wide range of ways people repetitively touch their hair and body in ways that cause physical damage. BFRBs affect roughly 5% of the population, and the symptoms are not merely “habits.” They are behaviors that result from this complex disorder.

Common BFRBs:

  • Skin Pricking Disorder (Excoriation):  The DSM-5 now recognizes this as a distinct diagnosis. Notably, it is persistent pricking at your skin that results in infections, lesions, and clinically significant distress. Learn more here.

Is this disorder treatable?

The Comprehensive Model for Behavioral Treatment (ComB) is currently recognized as the leading therapeutic approach to BFRBs. Evidence-based treatment for BFRBs includes a specific cognitive-behavioral therapy called habit reversal training (HRT), and ComB is an enhanced HRT protocol.

Additional “third wave” CBT therapies, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) have been demonstrated to be effective supplemental approaches, in addition to HRT.

This disorder can feel lonely and confusing. It’s crucial to seek treatment from someone specialized in BFRBs, and we are trained and equipped to provide you with the tools you need to apply your treatment practically.