Every year the Trichotillomania Learning centre (TLC) holds a conference highlighting new research, challenges and advancements in the field of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) such as trichotillomania and dermatillomania. This year the conference was held 10-12 April in Arlington, Virginia. The conference is aimed at people of all ages who live with hair pulling, skin picking and other BFRBs; their families and loved ones, and professionals who want to improve their knowledge and ability to treat these disorders. Even younger children and teenagers are welcome, with special programs specifically for this group. This year the opening address was even delivered by 16-year-old BFRB advocate Mackensie Freeman. If you missed the conference this year, save the date for next year, because next years conference has already been set for 15-17 April, in Dallas Texas, with registration for the conference opening in December 2015.
Inositol has been named as one of the potentially effective pharmacological treatments for body-focussed repetitive behaviors (bfrbs) such as trichotillomania and dermatillomania. To date there is only one published uncontrolled study by Dr. Seedat in 2001 in which 3 women with compulsive skin picking were treated with inositol, and were seen to improve even up to 16 weeks post follow-up. Dr. Fred Penzel, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Trichotillomania Learning Centre (TLC), also highly recommends the use of inositol based on his observations of the positive effects in his work with trichotillomania patients at the clinic where he practices and describes its use in detail in his book The Hair-Pulling Problem : A Complete Guide to Trichotillomania.
Have you heard of Dr. Pimple Popper? I recently stumbled acorss an article about Dr Sandra Lee, a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon who goes by the name of Dr Pimple Popper on Instagram and YouTube. Through these popular forms of social media, Dr Lee is broadcasting videos and images of pimples being popped and squeezed, and cysts oozing or exploding with pus. some of you may be wondering...why would anyone want to post this kind of images onto social media, and who would watch it? Well according to the article Dr Pimple Popper caters to more than 200, 000 followers! She describes her audience as either hardcore or softcore poppers:
“There’s hardcore poppers and softcore ones. A “softpop” is a simple blackhead extraction, an easy pop. A “hardpop” is more hardcore - maybe a cyst or lipoma popped out via excisional surgery. There may be pus, there may be blood, and there is always a “pop”,” she said.
The Trich Learning Centre (TLC) recently hosted a webinar with Brian L. Odlaug, MPH, a Visiting Researcher in the Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences at University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Mr. Odlaug is the co-author of three books on the treatment of addictive-impulsive-compulsive disorders and has authored over 125 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is a peer-reviewer for over 30 journals, a grant reviewer for the European Commission and National Research Foundation of South Africa, and is a professional member of several patient advocacy groups.
The webinar focussed on the current state of research in skin picking disorder, including an overview of the research conducted / published over the past year. Specifically, the webinar aimed to help participants understand why we use different types of brain imaging (i.e., MRI, fMRI, DTI, etc), what these techniques mean, and where in the brain the current research has focused.
Researchers at Child OCD Anxiety and Tic Disorders Program (UCLA) are conducting research assessing sleep in individuals with skin picking symptoms. They are recruiting adults ages 18 and older who engage in repetitive skin picking.
The survey will last approximately 30 minutes and will include questions about your demographics, sleep quality and patterns, skin picking symptoms, mood, and behavioral and emotional functioning.
Please visit the following link to participate: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/sleepskinpickingadults
For further information, please email the Principal Investigator, Emily Ricketts, Ph.D. at ERicketts@mednet.ucla.edu
Dermatillomania, also known as ‘compulsive skin picking disorder’ or ‘excoriation’, is an anxiety disorder which affects millions of people across the globe. Although conventional medication is not the most common, nor the most effective way to stop skin picking, it can be helpful, especially when combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Different people are found to react differently to different types of medication. The most common medications which are prescribed for dermatillomania are anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drugs, dopamine blockers, Inositol, N-Acetyl Cysteine, antidepressants, bipolar medication, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) and opioid inhibitors.
A study for trichotillomania found that clomipramine (Anafranil), a medication affecting the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, was beneficial in treating hair pulling (a body-focussed repeptitive behavior like dermatillomania). Clomipramine has both antidepressant and anti-obsessional properties.
Skin picking disorder can be a pervasive intrusion on a person's life. The constant struggle trying to resist the behavior can be exhausting, but it can also have devastating effects on the skin pickers emotional health. There is no uniform picture of what skin picking entails. Different people pick different parts of the body, in different ways and at different times. Some pick only with their fingers and nails, others use objects, such as tweezers or hairpins to prod and squeeze scabs, pimples, or even unblemished, healthy skin. There is also no set cause for the onset of skin picking, but there has been links found to other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorder and mood disorders such as depression and bipolar. However a correlation does not neccessarily equate to a cause and it may be that theses conditions only co-exist because they aggravate each other.
Having a loved one to support and encourage you when you are suffering from a disorder is always an advantage. However, most people are not aware of how little they understand about body-focussed repetitive behaviours. This can sometimes cause barriers in communication in the relationship between you and your loved one and can create obstacles to recovery.
Often the condition is considered to be just a “bad habit”. The biggest mistake that loved ones make is assuming that they can stop the picking by policing the behaviour and preventing the picking. It’s important to understand here that the only person that can stop the behaviour is the person themselves. Making the person aware that they are picking is not always helpful unless it is done so collaboratively.
There is no single cause or reason for the onset of dermatillomania. Different people start pisking for different reasons, and while some do not ever develop a serious condition, for many skin picking can escalate to a point where it affects their functioning. One of the many links found with the onset of skin picking disorder and other body-focussed repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), is the experience of extreme emotions such as anxiety and depression. Skin picking or other BFRBs can occur when a person experiences feelings such as anxiety, fear, excitement or boredom. Some people report that the act of repetitively picking at their skin is pleasurable. Many hours can be spent picking the skin, and this repetitive behavior can negatively impact a person's social, work, and family relationships.