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Skin picking disorder is associated with other body-focused repetitive behaviors: Findings from an Internet study

Ivar Snorrason, MA

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, USA

Emily J. Ricketts, MS

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, USA

Christopher A. Flessner, PhD

Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA

Martin E. Franklin, PhD

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Dan J. Stein, MD, PhD

Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Douglas W. Woods, PhD

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, USA

BACKGROUND: There is a lack of consensus on how to conceptualize skin picking disorder (SPD). It has been proposed that SPD is related to other problematic body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), such as hair pulling disorder (HPD) and problematic nail biting and cheek biting.

METHODS: We compared rates of BFRBs in online samples of SPD sufferers and college students. We also examined family history of HPD and skin picking problems and correlates of BFRB comorbidity in the SPD sample.

RESULTS: Prevalence of BFRBs was significantly higher in the SPD sample compared with the college student sample. One-half (50.8%) of the SPD sample had a first-degree relative with problematic skin picking, and 7.9% had a first-degree relative with diagnosed HPD. Finally, correlates of BFRB comorbidity indicated that when multiple habits co-occur in an individual, they tend to involve the same body area.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings are the first to show that SPD and BFRBs other than HPD frequently co-occur. Furthermore, they extend previous work showing that SPD has a family component and suggest that SPD and HPD may run in the same families. Given the recruitment method and the self-report nature of the comorbidity data, replication in clinical samples is needed.

KEYWORDS: skin picking, body-focused repetitive behavior, comorbidity, family history, hair pulling, trichotillomania


CORRESPONDENCE: Ivar Snorrason University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Department of Psychology, 2441 East Hartford Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211 USA E-MAIL: ivarsnorrason@gmail.com
Annals of Clinical Psychiatry ©2012 Frontline Medical Communications.

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