Obsessive hair-pullers, nail-biters, hand-washers rejoice; U of Minn. finds possible solution


Maybe you have unsexy bald spots from ripping out your hair or pencil-thin eyebrows from too much plucking. You might also bite your nails to the skin or wash your hands raw. Some new University of Minnesota research shows some promise in fixing obsessive behavior and just might have a solution for you.

While his results aren't completely promising, the doctor thinks it will help further research in the area. U of M psychiatrist Dr. Jon Grant found that an antioxidant called N-acetylcysteine (NAC) helped about half of the compulsive hair-pullers in his research. While some did it less, others quit completely. The over-the-counter supplement costs just $15 for 100 pills.

And if it doesn't work, don't sweat it. We can just compare you to other animals that over groom too. It's the same concept, Grant says.

The study shows promise because it shows that strategically reducing some chemicals in the brain can be effective in treating obsessions.

We just like to hear how animal-like the behavior is. Nothing makes you feel better about your weird obsession than comparing it to a dog licking themselves. From the Star Tribune:

If it's any comfort, animals too suffer from "grooming compulsions.''

Extreme hair pulling is relatively uncommon compared to other grooming compulsions such as nail biting, he said, but it occurs in all cultures and in animals.

"Dogs lick themselves to point of hair loss," he said. "Parrots pull out all their feathers."