The next edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will include a description of pathological grooming habits—nail biting, hair pulling, and scab picking—under the broader category of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). “Grooming” is a bit of a misnomer, but hopefully, this broadening of OCD will lead to more people being diagnosed and seeking help for these behaviors, which are more common in women than men.
Between 80 and 90 percent of trichotillomania (hair-pulling) sufferers are women, and they typically tug when they feel stressed. When I interviewed Olivia Munn for the *Allure’*s Face page back in December 2010, she confessed that she pulled out her eyelashes when she had anxiety, especially when she was on G4’s Attack of the Show, but also more recently. “Last year, I went for a tryout for a movie and I pulled out every single lash,” she said. “And then I had to grow them back in. But they’re still not all there. Right now on my left eye, there’s a patch that’s missing. The hair is not growing back. Eventually you mess up your follicles and they don’t come back. So I’m trying to doctor that. At least I can put lashes on. But what I am doing to myself is permanent and dangerous.”
As we’ve mentioned before, nail biting can also lead to bigger problems. “Biters often wind up damaging the cuticles, which protect them from infection,” says dermatologist Ranella Hirsch.
Do you have a body-related obsession? What have you done to combat it?