3 Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors You Should Know About

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 several ways.”

While awareness for trichotillomania has been minimal in comparison to other disorders, public knowledge for it has been around longer than excoriation disorder (a.k.a. “dermatillomania”), which only became an official disorder in the D.S.M.-5, the diagnostic statistical manual for mental health, in May of 2013. Usually acknowledged as a “bad habit” in our society, compulsive nail biting is seen as more socially acceptable, although it may cause embarrassment to those who struggle with the condition.

Aside from these three BFRBs, there are more that haven’t had attention brought to them. In online forums dedicated to these conditions, many people ask questions about additional behaviors they have. While BFRBs are not separately categorized in the D.S.M.-5, these conditions need recognition in order to remove the isolation associated with feeling like you’re the only one who engages in these behaviors.

1. 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 someone struggling 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 may have  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.

2. Morsicatio labiorum

This condition is characterized by a person biting, chewing, or sucking their inner lip. When teeth scrape up against the inside of the cheek, our cells create a protective coating called keratin. In extreme cases, these calloused areas can be surgically treated by your dentist or oral surgeon. Laser treatments are one of the newer procedures that basically cauterize the keratinized tissue off, leaving a smooth surface.

3. Trichotemnomania

This behavior is the conscious act of compulsively shaving or cutting one’s own hair. Someone struggling may be drawn to these behaviors as stress relievers because they can signify a form of cleansing or need for perfection, which can teeter into the obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) spectrum or body dysmorphic disorder categories.

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.

Read the full list of body-focused repetitive behaviors here.

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