Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

Trichotillomania, Skin-Picking, and Other BFRBs

We offer therapy to children, adolescents, and adults with trichotillomania and other body-focused repetitive behaviors. Trichotillomania (TTM) is a chronic impulse control disorder characterized by pulling out one’s own hair, resulting in noticeable hair loss. This disorder typically begins in early adolescence. Sufferers of TTM have strong urges to pull hair from their scalp, eyelashes and eyebrows and/or elsewhere on their bodies. Many children and adults with TTM feel embarrassed and ashamed of their pulling and attempt to conceal the evidence from others. Our research group developed and empirically evaluated a manualized Behavioral Treatment program for pediatric TTM, completing what is to our knowledge the only randomized controlled trial of any treatment for pediatric TTM.

We also treat other body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), such as skin-picking. Skin-picking involves repetitively touching, rubbing, scratching, picking at or digging into one's skin, often in an attempt to remove minor irregularities or perceived imperfections. Skin picking and other BFRBs often occur when a person experiences feelings such as anxiety, fear, excitement or boredom. Similar to TTM, many individuals with skin-picking experience embarrassment and shame, and it can negatively impact one's social, school/work, and family relationships.

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