The Role Body-Esteem Plays in Impairment Associated with Hair-Pulling and Skin Picking in Adolescents
Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
Trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder, HPD) and pathological skin picking (PSP) are associated with significant rates of psychosocial impairment and distress. Little research has addressed the physical consequences and associated impairment in youth (e.g., poor body-esteem). The present study explores the relationship between body-esteem, skin picking (SP), and pulling-related impairment in a sample of adolescents with primary HPD. Ninety four adolescents who pull their hair, 40 of whom also pick their skin, were recruited via internet-sampling as part of the Child and Adolescent Trichotillomania Impact Study (CA-TIP). All youth and a parent completed anonymous questionnaires online assessing psychiatric symptoms, repetitive behaviors, and psychosocial impairment, among other variables. Appearance-based body-esteem was not found to be predictive of more severe psychosocial impairment in these youth. However, SP, in combination with HPD, contributed to worse appearance-based body-esteem above and beyond symptoms of HPD alone. The current study suggests that psychosocial functioning in youth with HPD is less impacted by body-esteem or pulling than other factors (e.g., depression and anxiety), and that SP contributes to lowered body-esteem. These findings suggest the importance of addressing body-esteem in case conceptualization for youth with both HPD and SP. Further research is required to confirm these suggestions.