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6 Myths — and Truths — About Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors

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Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) — hair pulling, skin picking, and the like — officially affect 2.5% to 5% of people.1 But the true prevalence rates are likely much higher, as BFRBs are understudied, misunderstood, and underreported.2 It’s not easy trying to understand a group of people who are in hiding and silent about their struggles due to stigma.

The result, unfortunately, is that BFRB myths and misconceptions continue to flourish. Here, we dispel common myths and misunderstandings about this very treatable condition that is more common than most people think.Many people assume a person endured something terrible and seriously traumatic that caused them to engage in skin picking, hair pulling, and/or other BFRBs.

This is simply not the case. That said, many individuals with BFRBs say they experienced a stressful event — from changing schools to going through a divorce — around the time that the BFRB started.

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