Finger Taping to Create a BFRB Barrier

Are you kidding me? Why didn’t I know of this earlier? 

A seated position with one free hand is always tricky for me – especially for biting my nails and picking my fingers’ skin. My fingers are always moving, looking for something to pick, bite, squeeze, or scratch. When I draw, read, or watch TV. Or like now as I write this post.

If I catch myself nibbling on my fingers, I put medical tape on the fingers that are most tempting at that moment. The tape immediately creates a barrier, and tadah, problem solved! If it only would be that easy … 

Everybody’s experience with BFRB is slightly different. Sometimes the BFRBs help to self-soothe; sometimes, it’s a deep auto mechanism. If you’re using the tape, you may need to keep something else to fondle with closeby.

How to use the finger tape

Depending on how you apply the adhesive, this trick will help with dermatillomania and onychophagia.

  • Tape around the finger: Prevents picking of hangnails or cuticles. 
  • Tape over fingernail: Helps to prevent you from scratching and feeling blemishes. Plus, you can’t bite your fingernails. I’m not sure, but taping the finger this way should help with trichotillomania too? Please let me know if you have any experience with this!

I usually use medical adhesives. I like the softness and texture; it is also very convenient to tear the pieces off instead of using scissors. Sometimes I apply cuticle oil underneath the tape so I can heal the skin while protecting it.

If you need something stronger or sturdier, try out climbing tape! You can get this at any larger sports store. Just keep in mind that the nail polish might come off with the tape if you have painted nails.


Calendar Challenge to Get Motivation to Fight Your BFRB

Have you ever tracked your dermatillomania, trichotillomania, or nail-biting? I did that with the “calendar challenge” even before knowing the term BFRB. 

I had no idea what I was doing, but I was so fed up with not being able to control the picking and causing spots on my skin.

Little did I know then that tracking my body-focused repetitive behaviors would become a big part of my future and my BFRB recovery.

With the calendar, I challenged myself not to pick at my skin in the bathroom—one of my main trigger locations.

For this challenge, I drew a small calendar on paper and attached it to the bathroom mirror.

I used to start the calendar challenge whenever I felt like starting a new fight. I wasn’t waiting for a new week or month to start.

Lately, I’ve also been using the calendar challenge to track my period, breakouts, or use of certain skincare products.

It helps me identify patterns and prepare myself mentally for the next time hormones affect my mood and skin—that’s when my urge to pick increases.

Set small goals and celebrate small victories

Smaller goals for this challenge will yield better results. If you only focus on one trigger location or body part, the challenge will be easier to complete.

  • Focus on just one body part/area
    People often have different areas that they pick, pull, or bite, which can be overwhelming. So, try to focus on just one body part. For example, if your goal is to focus on not picking your face, and you managed to do that, you can still check the box on the calendar even though you picked your arms or legs.
  • Focus on only one trigger location 
    Another option is to decide on a location where you want to try not to engage in your BFRB. For example, if your challenge is not to bite your nails in the car, check the box if you succeed and celebrate!

Experiment with what works best for you. Maybe even combine both options! I do this – I mainly use the calendar challenge on my face (body part) in the bathroom (location).

  • Divide the day into three parts

The calendar challenge can be difficult and daunting, even if we only focus on one body area or location. If that’s the case, simply break the day into three parts—morning, day, and evening. You might be able to cross out some more wins this way!

After you set the rules for yourself, take it one day at a time. It’s about fighting the small fights to win the battle.

Be proud and celebrate every little win!! That motivates you to keep going.

BFRB coping methods to support the calendar challenge

When I first did this challenge, not knowing the term BFRB, my attempts to be “pick-free” were not very successful. I didn’t understand why I could not NOT pick.

But now, after developing some BFRB methods, I find the calendar challenge more doable. 

My favorite BFRB coping methods for the challenge are: 

Be kind and patient with yourself

I used to get very upset and disappointed myself if I had too many unchecked squares. I felt defeated and angry. Unfortunately, setbacks are part and parcel of BFRB’s recovery. There is no way just to stop a BFRB!

So, let’s be more compassionate with ourselves. It’s about recovery—one day at a time and one BFRB at a time. You can end the calendar challenge anytime and just try again later!


Place Coping Statements at Your BFRB Trigger Locations

Placing BFRB coping statements and reminders at my trigger locations was one of the first steps in my BFRB healing journey.

I need reminders and positive encouragement quotes to control my BFRBs. I worry that if I don’t deal with them regularly, I’ll quickly slip into old patterns of picking and biting without realizing it.

As a hobby and self-therapy, I began drawing BFRB coping reminders and used them to decorate my trigger locations. 

My two main trigger locations are the bathroom and my work desk. So, I placed a hand-lettered quote on my bathroom mirror and another on the computer monitor. 

I know that our dermatillomania, trichotillomania, or onychophagia (nail-biting) are not limited to places. Unfortunately, the triggers and stressors that cause our BFRBs are omnipresent. 

However, adding helpful and visually pleasing reminders to the key trigger locations is already a good start to creating awareness and potentially preventing the urge to pick, scratch, and bite.

After all, scars, scabs, and burning skin are the wrong reminders. We need help before we do the damage.

Check out the Coping Cards section on my website for other coping statements.

Do you know your main trigger locations?

My BFRB Coping reminder on the bathroom mirror.

Positive Grooming Aka Self-care

In the book “Overcoming Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors”, the authors talk about how hair pulling and skin picking can be viewed as “healthy/positive grooming behaviors that have gotten out of control”.

As I read this, a lightbulb appeared over my head. I always thought I was doing myself well by getting rid of all the bumps on my skin.

Also, the tricky part is that popping pimples and picking skin feels great and rewarding in the heat of the moment.

But after seeing the damage I did to myself, I feel like sh*%t most of the time. My skin is bloody, red, and looks a lot worse than before.

Little did I know that I had developed unhealthy and self-harming grooming patterns.

Since that realization, I’ve been trying to introduce healthier grooming habits into my everyday life; bringing a bit more self-care into my suuuper minimalist bathroom routine.

These are some of my new positive grooming habits (this list will evolve over time):

1. If you’re picking your fingers like I am, I give you the advise to moisturize your fingers as if your life depends on it 😉 Regularly moistening the cuticles prevents dryness and cracking. I use hand creams, cuticle oil or lotions for severely dry skin.

2. I struggle a lot with nail-biting. Although I can grow my fingernails a bit longer at times, I know they’re gone as soon as I get a little more stressed or nervous. To avoid unnecessary disappointment, I cut my nails twice a week on set days.

3. I show my skin a little more love by cleaning, exfoliating, and moisturizing it regularly. Exfoliating especially helps to remove dead skin cells and prevents clogged pores. Not only does this lead to fewer breakouts, but it also makes the skin feel smoother afterward. My goal is to improve my skin, in order to improve my skin picking.

Skin Care 101 Videos

Skincare can be very overwhelming and scary. I can only recommend Hyram’s Skin Care 101 Videos. They have helped me better understand the basics of skincare.

Tiny adjustments in the daily positive grooming routine already make a significant difference.

It sounds a little silly, but my biggest “win” came from juicing a lemon with my bare hands without my fingers burning! Since then, I’ve been using juicing lemons as a good indicator of how healthy my fingers are.