Trichotillomania and Excoriation Disorder
Trichotillomania, pronounced “trik-uh-til-uh-mey-nee-uh”, is a fancy word for repetitive hair pulling, while Excoriation Disorder refers to picking or peeling skin from the body. Professionals call these types of disorders Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, or BFRBs for short. Individuals know that these behaviors are harmful and try to stop themselves, but describe experiencing strong urges to pull or pick that are difficult to control.
Trichotillomania sufferers pull hair from all parts of the body, with the most common places being the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Bald spots or baldness might appear on the person’s body, and often they dress to cover the damage, such as using wigs, hats, or long-sleeve clothing. Individuals suffering from Excoriation Disorder behave similarly, and many report wearing Band-Aids or outfits that cover up the wounds or scabs created by skin picking.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, along with a special kind of therapy called Habit Reversal Training, can help individuals make improvements. The treatment involves improving awareness and learning more about what environmental cues often accompany the hair pulling or skin picking behaviors. The therapist uses this information to help the individual develop a variety of strategies and skills that can be implemented in place of the harmful behaviors. Over time, many are able to reduce these behaviors and improve the quality of their lives.