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Revista chilena de neuro-psiquiatría

versión On-line ISSN 0717-9227


MARTINEZ-AGUAYO, Juan Carlos et al. Phenomenological characterization of body-focused repetitive impulsive behaviours and excoriation disorder in college students. Rev. chil. neuro-psiquiatr. [online]. 2017, vol.55, n.4, pp.221-230. ISSN 0717-9227.


Body-focused repetitive impulsive behaviors (BFRIB) are characterized by skin, nail and hair removing, scratching and/or biting, that configurate a mental disorder in some cases. Excoriation disorder (ED) or dermatillomania has been recently added as a specific disorder in DSM-5 obsessive-compulsive spectrum. Its phenomenology describes a behavior that emerges from anxiety, followed by a progressive psychic tension and then a pleasurable sensation, concluding in many times in guilt. Evidence has reported a greater incidence of ED in college students; however, studies in Latin America are scarce.


To establish frequence and phenomenological features of BFRIB and ED in college students.


We performed a cross-sectional study through the application of a self-administered questionnaire about ED aspects in college students.


440 students were included; 22.2% felt always or almost always the impulse to scratch their skin until they were injured; 13.2% made these actions many times a day and 4.3% deployed considerable efforts in resisting them. Most frequent reported affects were guilt, shame, repentance, and self-reproach; 24.1% thought these behaviors were abnormal and 6.1% considered they constitute a pathology. According to DSM-5 and authors’ criteria, four cases of ED were found (0.91%), when psychiatric and medical comorbidities were discarded.


Although BFRIB were frequent in college students, dermatillomania frequency was similar to general population. A characteristic phenomenology was described, similar to the evidence reported one.

Palabras clave : Excoriation disorder; compulsive skin-picking; students.

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