The BFRB Podcast is hosted by Jose Alvear, LMSW who is also the person behind Diary of a Skin Picker. He started the blog after realizing that he had been living with skin picking disorder, an undiagnosed and unrecognized mental disorder. For over 30 years, Alvear picked and scratched his skin often to the point of bleeding and scarring. He suffered from low self-esteem, poor body image and a deep sense of shame which further contributed to his anxiety and struggles with depression as a youth.
In 2010, Alvear discovered that this behavior was actually called “dermatillomania” or “chronic skin picking”, a body-focused repetitive disorder (BFRB) much like trichotillomania or hair pulling disorder. Unfortunately, skin picking was not listed in the DSM-IV so it was not an officially recognized disorder. This meant that it was difficult to find resources online or get proper mental health treatment.
After discovering the term dermatillomania, Alvear realized that this “bad habit” was actually a treatable disorder. He decided to focus on learning as much as possible about skin picking and started an anonymous blog on Tumblr called “Diary of a Skin Picker” dedicated to documenting his recovery and offering help and support to others.
In 2013, the DSM-5 was released and it now includes skin picking (excoriation) disorder. At the same time, Alvear’s blog became more popular and he decided he wanted to dedicate his career to helping others with BFRBs and become a social worker. He enrolled in graduate school while continuing to advocate for those suffering from BFRBs by talking to others and giving presentations at his university about skin picking. In May 2016, Alvear graduated with his Master of Social Work (MSW) from NYU Silver School of Social Work. He is currently working on various new projects related to skin picking and other BFRBs.
For over 7 years Alvear has been an advocate for BFRBs and has spoken publicly about his personal struggles with skin picking and other mental health issues. His hope is to continue to raise awareness about skin picking and other disorders to reduce the stigma about mental health and help as many people as he can.