Dermatillomania Support Online

Skin Picking Research, Clinical Research into BFRBs

BFRBs (Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors) come under Obsessive Compulsive related Disorders in DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Conditions, Fifth Edition). Most BFRBs are passive activities, particularly prevalent during periods of boredom.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine have developed the study of specific nutritional supplements to prevent skin picking and hair pulling. Laboratory mice have been supplemented with NAC (N-acetylcysteine) and glutathione, leading to decreased BFRBs.

superb skin supplements

Many people find NAC helpful to reduce their BFRBs, but ideally a full nutritional program should be tailored to the individual by qualified personnel. Our online coaching program to help stop skin picking includes tailored supplementation.

CSP help NAC is necessary for the natural formation of glutathione. Glutathione helps regulate cortisol, which plays a significant role in stress. Cortisol, however, plays a more robust role, raising in the morning so that we wake up and lowering to facilitate sleep at night. Many people with stress-related conditions, for example CSP or compulsive skin picking, have a reversal of cortisol behaviour, with low energy on waking and only fully waking by the time others need to sleep. Cortisol lowers histamine levels in the body and brain.

The role of enhanced emotion in BFRBs is evident in certain brain areas, and the reward centre of the brain reveals a connection with dopamine. An MRI-based human study by Grachev investigated only twenty right-handed females aged 28-30, ten with trichotillomania. Two areas of the neocortex were significantly reduced in volume, but there was no overall loss of volume, indicating that the BFRB brains may have developed differently, possibly in a compensatory manner. Additional studies have also revealed increased grey matter in the amygdale hippocampus area of the brain, which plays a vast role in emotional processing (Aldridge et al, 1993).

Increased cortical thickness has also recently been revealed in people with trichotillomania and their close relatives, possibly causing response inhibition. (Odlaug et al, 2014)


Aldridge JW,. Berridge KC, Herman M, Zimmer L, Research report neuronal coding, Psychological Sciences, 4 (1993).

Grachev ID, MRI-based morphometric topographic parcellation of human neocortex in trichotillomania, Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 51(1997).

If you are interested in carrying out a research project and would like any help or involvement from us; please contact us. We are always happy to help improve knowledge in any way we can.