Body-focused repetitive behaviours (BFRBs) are characterized by highly repetitive self-grooming behaviours which can include biting, pulling, picking, or scraping. The focus, or target areas of BFRBs can include hair, skin, lips, cheeks, or nails.
BFRBs can result in significant physical damage to the body (hair loss, baldness, sore and bleeding skin, infection, and scaring) and emotional distress. BFRBs can impact relationships, social functioning, work, school, confidence, self-esteem, and quality of life – to name a few.
To avoid damage, a person with a BFRB will try again and again to stop or decrease the behaviour. Often, their attempts to do so are only short-lived (even momentary). They can feel a great sense of shame and guilt that they engage in these behaviours and that they “can’t stop.”
BFRBs are very confusing. On the one hand, people hate that that they do this to themselves, on the other, they love these behaviours too. They hate the social stigma, the loss of time, the impact on relationships, and the shame. But they love how it makes them feel (it is self-soothing) and how the BFRB is great at regulating emotions and getting rid of unpleasant internal experiences.