Home > The BFRB Blog > Fighting Through Cold and Flu Season

We’re delving into cold season here in Canada as winter creeps slowly up on us. Flu shots are being made available, there are extra reminders to avoid spreading germs, and old wives’ tales about bundling up to avoid getting a cold from the cold are beginning to circulate as they do every year. Yet sometimes, despite our best efforts, we still manage to get sick. I know I already have.

For most people, being sick can be a crumby ordeal—what with the congestion, fevers, headaches, and just all around blah feeling. For those of us with a BFRB, the whole thing can be an especially rough experience because on top of the common symptoms of being sick, sometimes our BFRBs can go all out of whack right along with it. I’ve spoken to a few people who are lucky enough to have their BFRB symptoms go unchanged or even decrease while sick, but for a number of us, it all just gets worse. Our picking or pulling increases and we’re left feeling worse off than we already do as our bodies fight to get better.

We’re not doomed though—there are efforts we can make to help combat our BFRB urges while we’re combating a cold or the flu. Sure, sometimes it’s difficult to battle through our hazy, feverish minds and try to motivate ourselves despite exhaustion, but it can be done.

In most cases, it’s a matter of reinforcing or making an extra effort to utilize tactics we already have, such as using fidget toys. For both picking and pulling, finding a fidget that works for you can be a good addition to your arsenal. Items like spinner rings, worry stones, bits of string, magnetic balls and pretty much anything you can think of can help keep your hands busy and away from your skin or hair. Lots of people also recommend crafts, but I know when I feel sick I am less than motivated to do anything like that. If you can muster up the energy for it though, all the power to you!

However, I think typically, at best, we’re running on empty. In which case, it’s difficult to do much of, well, anything. (Except we always seem find the energy to pick or pull, don’t we?) Here we come to the common suggestion of wearing gloves. With gloves, even if your hands start to wander, you have something to physically block the action. I know for picking it would definitely make feeling out a spot more difficult, and since I’ve heard from pullers that their fingers are experts at finding the right hair, it’ll probably help deter that action, too, because you wouldn’t actually be able to feel the hair.

For trich specifically, one young woman I spoke to recommended wearing a hat, and another said that forcing herself to style her hair despite being sick helps. In both cases, it makes getting at the hair more difficult for that wandering hand. Sure, it’s not totally foolproof, but your hand would touch the hat or the styled hair first, providing a physical reminder to try to break away from the action. At least, that’s how I understand it (forgive me, as I’m not a puller).

Some derma tips I would recommend include using bandages or gauze with a wrap to physically cover the wounds so you can’t get at them. This is especially important to help prevent infection if you’ve already done some picking. If you’re like me and allergic to the adhesive on bandages, go with the gauze and wrap because it won’t irritate the skin as much, or just be sure to use lots of moisturizer and ointment when you take the bandages off to sooth the allergic reaction.

So there are some BFRB-related tips, how about some tips for just getting better quicker? Lots of water and juice, lots of rest (though that’s easier said than done sometimes), pile on the layers to sweat it out, and some good old cold or flu meds. If you’re on medication for your BFRB or anything else, it might be good to double check with your doctor to make sure it won’t be a bad mix, but if you can find something to relieve cold symptoms, it’s a godsend!

Hopefully you can manage to avoid a nasty cold this season, but if you do get sick, be sure to take extra care of yourself to get better. If you’re already sick, get well soon!