Everyone has pulled at a scab or picked at a pimple just a little too much leaving them with an angry, red mark and feeling self-conscious. For people with skin picking disorder (SPD), that experience is intensified and becomes a compulsion that touches every aspect of life. It’s a disorder that is more common than you might expect. It is estimated to affect about 1 in 20 people or between 1.4% and 5.4% of the population. Although it can emerge at any age, onset generally occurs in adolescence, often coinciding with the onset of puberty. Women are much more likely to be affected.
The wait is over! The TLCs Annual Conference on Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors is April 8-11, 2021, and this year, #BFRBcon is going virtual! You’ll be able to attend from the safety of your home or office while learning about the latest in research, treatment, and living with a BFRB.
#BFRBcon is for anyone affected by trichotillomania, dermatillomania, and related behaviors, their family members, and clinicians and researchers working in the field of mental health. The only event of its kind, #BFRBcon brings together BFRB experts, community leaders, and changemakers to lead a weekend of education, support, and most importantly, healing.
For those living with a BFRB, this conference is about so much more than learning to not pick or pull. The conference is also about:
The conference will include special programming for kids and teens, and parents.
2021 is off to an exciting start for the BFRB Precision Medicine Initiative! Even with the restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, researchers remain committed to the precision medicine approach and advancing the goals of the BPMI. Projects are awaiting publication, data analysis is revealing new insights into BFRBs, research is continuing, and support for treatment advancement remains strong. The TLC Foundation for BFRBs has released updates over the past few months. Here are the highlights of what’s been happening with the BPMI:
When it comes to mental health disorders, one thing is true. While there are specific diagnostic criteria used to make a diagnosis, how those behaviors and traits are manifested can vary. Rarely is a diagnosis a “one-size-fits-all.” Skin picking disorder (SPD) is no exception. It has not gone unnoticed by the clinical community that picking behavior and its associated traits don’t always look the same from person to person. In fact, research has looked at how people engage in picking and, it turns out that there is not a single type of picking but rather distinct subtypes.
Most people have on occasion engaged in nail-biting or even picked at a scab a little too much. But sometimes, these behaviors become too frequent and the urge too much to resist. Why does that happen?
Habitual nail-biting, hair pulling, and skin picking are collectively referred to as body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). These actions are recurrent, problematic, destructive behaviors directed toward the body and are thought to be triggered by some unpleasant emotional state. Many people engage in these behaviors from time to time (e.g., nail-biting) but do so at subclinical levels that create little or no functional impairment. For some people, they can manage their emotional triggers and responses in healthy, non-injurious ways. For others, however, their emotional responses somehow get misdirected and the result is destructive body-focused behaviors like skin-picking and hair-pulling.
How that works isn’t exactly clear and researchers have turned to various psychological models to try and understand how and why BFRBs occur. What seems to be clear is that these behaviors seem to emerge in response to emotional triggers and serve to help alleviate emotional distress.
For people struggling with skin picking, finding adequate treatment can be a challenge. While classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder by the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), the disorder also results in physical injury to the skin sometimes requiring medical attention. Deciding what type of clinician to see can be confusing. Is it medical? Is it psychiatric? Skin picking also carries a degree of embarrassment for many people. Asking for help can be hard, leaving many to choose to delay treatment. A new study published in The Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders sheds new light on the attitudes and experiences of people seeking treatment for skin picking and offers recommendations for improving the treatment experience.
Researchers continue to explore mental health disorders known as body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). Less than 3% of the general population struggles with BFRBs like excoriation (skin-picking disorder or SPD) and trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder or HPD). Researchers suggest that BFRBs, especially, HPD, are more common in women than men. They have also found that approximately 38% of people with SPD also have HPD. BFRBs are chronic conditions that last a lifetime.
Is COVID-19 affecting your mental health? If so, you’re not alone. According to a Mind.org study, approximately 68% of young adults and 60% of middle-aged and older adults have experienced a decline in mental health due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns. But, COVID-19 isn’t the only thing that can impact your mental health. A variety of factors can throw your mental health into “free-fall” or aggravate mental health conditions.
In this month’s webinar, Dr. Vladimir Miletic provides an overview of the current research into skin picking disorder. The research summary includes biological and neurological findings as well as what the research says about treatment. The full webinar is available on the SkinPick.com YouTube channel.
When a clinician considers a client’s presenting problems, the first thing they do is try and fit the client’s experiences into a model or theory from which treatment options come. Models and theories, then, become a lens through which we conceptualize the problem. Once we have the lens, then we have a plethora of evidence-based practice to consider for treatment options. Just as in medicine, not knowing the cause or how the symptoms manifest means you can’t really treat the problem effectively.