Home Health Breaking Free from Nail-Biting and Skin-Picking: New Technique Offers Hope!

Breaking Free from Nail-Biting and Skin-Picking: New Technique Offers Hope!

by Editorial Desk
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New research suggests that a simple technique could be beneficial for those struggling with nail-biting, skin picking, and other body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). These behaviors, such as hair-pulling, lip and cheek-biting, and skin-picking, can cause distress and, in severe cases, lead to visual skin damage and affect mental health.

Steffen Moritz, from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, explains that while many people may display mild forms of these habits throughout their lives, some individuals experience more extreme versions that can be problematic and harmful. People with these BFRBs often face additional challenges, feeling ashamed and avoiding intimacy due to their behaviors.

Cognitive behavioral therapy with a therapist is considered the gold standard for treating problematic BFRBs. However, a small proof-of-concept trial published in JAMA Dermatology suggests that a self-help technique may provide some relief, especially when immediate access to a therapist is not possible.

It’s essential to recognize that BFRBs should not be seen as self-mutilation or self-hate but rather as a way to soothe the nervous system and cope with stress, boredom, or strong emotions like anger. Moritz and his team came up with a habit replacement technique that involves gentle self-soothing touches, such as softly stroking the skin in various ways or circling fingertips on the palm of one’s hand. By doing these inconspicuous and repetitive movements, individuals may find relief without harmful consequences.

The study involved 268 participants with BFRBs, and after six weeks, 54% of those using the habit replacement technique reported improvement compared to 20% in the control group. However, the study had some limitations, including a short time frame, lack of follow-up, and a majority of White female participants recruited via social media.

Psychotherapist Stacy Nakell believes that the study’s recognition of the emotional regulation aspect of BFRBs is a strength. She sees potential in the habit replacement technique, as it introduces self-soothing, which other therapies often overlook. However, Nakell emphasizes that this technique should be part of a broader treatment approach that addresses the underlying emotions driving these behaviors.

In conclusion, this new research offers hope for individuals struggling with BFRBs by providing an alternative self-help technique to manage and possibly reduce these repetitive behaviors. While more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effectiveness, it highlights the importance of addressing these habits with a compassionate and comprehensive approach..

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