Trichotillomania/dermatillomania/other body-focused repetitive behaviours


AKA pulling your hair out, and picking your skin. I wonder how common these things are in ADHD. I have both, particularly trich, and recently it’s got so bad that my hair is now incredibly thin and has slightly visible bald areas. I’ve done it since I was a kid! People have tried to tell me it’s a nervous habit, but I do it when I’m calm, and it doesn’t get worse when I’m anxious - in fact it gets worse when I’m most relaxed.

What also made me realise it wasn’t an anxiety thing was when I met another person with ADHD who also had trich - this person absently pulled out their eyelashes. I have also met two people with ADHD and dermatillomania. Not met anyone with those things and NO ADHD!

I’ve since learned that there are other body-focused repetitive behaviours that are common for ADHD. These include (taken from ADDitude) “onychophagia (nail biting), dermatophagia (skin biting), rhinotillexomania (nose picking), as well as cheek biting and joint cracking”. According to ADDitude, doing that stuff increases that sweet sweet dopamine in the ADHD brain!

It’d be awesome if Jessica could do a video about this. Do any of you guys have experience with these things? Have you found ways to reduce the behaviour?



I have BFRB. I bite my inside of the mouth, I pick my skin when I have a wound, I pick my nose and I pluck the eyelashes.

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Yeah, check out this topic thread too where others talk about BFRBs.

I literally have every kind listed. Hair pulling, skin picking, nail biting, skin biting, nose picking. The only one I don’t do is joint cracking! Thankfully I’ve managed over the years to reduce my bfrbs to times when I won’t embarass myself. I used to have a giant bald spot on my head in highschool, but I got the trichotillomania down to a level that my hair can grow back easier now.

I honestly never realized until joining this forum that these behaviors were associated with ADHD. I was constantly ashamed of all my bad habits. Now at least I understand them better!



I have a few too, skin biting is the worst by far, I have to stop myself as soon as I notice or it gets out of control.

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oh wow i didn’t know this was an adhd thing! I pick at my scalp (to the point where i have a lil bald bit and scabs) and used to keep popping my jaw in and out of place (which i didn’t realise it SHOULDN’T be able to do) until i hurt and i couldn’t. when i try and explain to my parents that as much as i WANT to stop picking my scalp i just can’t they don’t understand they think i need to just “try harder”. at least now i know i’m not the only person doing this!



I used to roll my eyes back into my head. My teacher thought it I was having petite mal seizures or something and told my mom. On the day we went to get my head examined she witnessed me doing it and asked what I was doing and why. I told her I was “resting my eyes.” I managed to train myself out of the habit, because it creeped people the heck out, although I can and do still do it occasionally. I like how it feels, like a really good stretch. It’s also a great party trick to gross out kids when you can show only the whites of your eyes. LOL.



I pick my skin all the time and it’s awful. Whenever I don’t have a million things going on my hands go right to my face and start to pick. Right now I have a wicked sunburn on my nose and I keep picking at the skin that is coming off of it. My nose is very raw right now because of it. My skin is awful as it is without the picking, but I continue to make it so much worse. I hate it!!

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Yes, it totally is! Any behavior like that releases a small amount of dopamine. If the behavior is related to anxiety and self-soothing, then it might also fall on the OCD spectrum, which is likely to co-occur with ADHD.



I do a fair few of these things. I also didn’t realise until recently that it was adhd related.

I suppose we treat our bodies like a multi-faceted fidget toy that we always have with us… :wink:

And i got told off for the eye-stretching too, @Gaeliceyes :smiley:

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Skin picker here. Also I pluck (with my fingernails) the hairs that grow on the lobes of my ears. Not proud of it. :frowning:



I pick at my cuticles and chew on my lips



I do the same thing! I didn’t know that was a part of having ADHD. especially the hair, I’ve had that since I was a kid. I handle it better now, but when school is very stressful the habit comes back. That makes me feel a lot better, thank you. I really needed to hear that.

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Glad it helped!

I struggled with the hair pulling for a long time, and I was similarly SO relieved to read that it was an adhd thing.

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