People with skin picking disorder do it out of habit and may struggle to control the impulse. The disorder is associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and people with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at higher risk of developing skin picking disorder.
What is skin picking?
Skin picking is a type of body-focused repetitive behavior in which a person constantly at their own skin to the point that it bleeds or forms ulcers and scars.
People with the disorder may pick at small imperfections in the nails, acne, or small scabs, which can cause tissue damage, discoloration, and scarring. Some may even become embarrassed about this behavior and avoid social settings where these perceived imperfections may be noticed by other people.
Skin picking may be a result of occasional picking at a rash or skin injury, which causes further skin injury and eventually turns into a continuous cycle. It can also start as an absent-minded coping mechanism for stress that eventually becomes a habit.
What are the symptoms of skin picking?
Signs and symptoms of skin picking may include:
- Picking at scabs, scars, or wounds or healthy skin regularly, which can in turn lead to cuts, sores, bleeding, scars, or infections that may require medical attention.
- Spending a lot of time picking, which may disrupt the person’s social or professional life
- Avoiding public or social settings due to self-consciousness about the skin’s appearance
How do you cure skin picking?
Skin picking may be related to mental health issues, and treatment depends on the underlying causes involved.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy helps the affected person recognize triggers and learn methods of controlling skin picking behavior. The goal is to retrain the brain to develop new behavioral patterns.
- Exposure therapy: Exposure and response therapy involves helping the person confront their fears by exposing them to their triggers and then teaching them new ways to deal with them
- Habit reversal training: Habit reversal training is a type of behavioral therapy where unhealthy habits are replaced with healthy habits. For example, the therapist may provide the person with a ball to squeeze instead of picking the skin.
The FDA has not approved any drugs for skin picking. However, the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac, may be effective in treating skin picking because it is used to reduce symptoms of panic disorders and depression.
Shaw G. Skin Picking Disorder (Excoriation). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/skin-picking-disorder
Zakhary L. Picking your skin? Learn four tips to break the habit. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/picking-your-skin-learn-four-tips-to-break-the-habit-2018112815447
Mental Health America. Excoriation Disorder (Skin Picking or Dermatillomania). https://mhanational.org/conditions/excoriation-disorder-skin-picking-or-dermatillomania
Top Is Picking at Your Skin a Symptom of Anxiety Related Articles
Anxiety DisordersAnxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
Anxiety and Panic Disorders: Conditions That Look Like AnxietyIs it anxiety or something else? Click through to learn which conditions share symptoms.
Anxiety, Stress, and WorryWhat is the definition of anxiety, stress, and worry? Find treatments to relieve stress, eliminate worry, and combat anxiety as you discover how stress affects your body. Learn whether stress fights colds or encourages them, why some stress is bad and some is good, and why exercise and diet can be relaxing.
Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors: Picking, Pulling, and Biting DisordersFor some people, nail biting, lip chewing, and scab picking aren’t just “bad” habits. Find out how these serious, impulse control problems cause damage.
Can a Parent Cause Anxiety in a Child?Parents who are stressed, anxious, harsh, fight, sarcastic, hostile or aversive may transmit or cause anxiety in their children.
How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treat Depression?Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) uses cognitive strategies to help people change patterns in the way they think and behavioral strategies to help people change behaviors that aren't helpful. CBT can help people with mild-to-moderate major depressive disorder.
A Visual Guide to Generalized Anxiety DisorderLearn about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). See if your worries are normal or something more by learning about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments of anxiety disorders.
How Does a Person With Anxiety Feel?What are symptoms of anxiety? A person with anxiety may experience feelings of nervousness, restlessness, inability to concentrate, stomach problems, and more.
How Does Depression Affect a Person's Behavior?Depression — a serious mood disorder — is the most common mental health disorder. It can interfere with your thoughts, your feelings, and daily activities like sleeping, eating, and working.
Mental HealthMental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
What Are 6 Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders?Anxiety disorders have an impact on one's behavior, thoughts, emotions, and physical health. The six major symptoms of anxiety disorders include worrying incessantly and excessively for no apparent reason; fear of any social or performance-related situations in which one may be subjected to scrutiny from others; irrational fear of an object or location; flashbacks, nightmares, and subsequent anxiety due to exposure to a highly traumatic event in the past; cleaning and rearranging things and objects around excessively and repetitively; and repeated panic attacks.
What Are the Types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy. It helps people manage their emotional and behavioral problems by changing the way they perceive the world and react to it.
What Is the 3-3-3 Rule for Anxiety?Parenting a young child can be tough. The 3-3-3 rule is a mindfulness technique that's simple enough for young children and it asks them to name three things they can see, identify three sounds they can hear, and move three different parts of their bodies.
What Symptoms Are Caused by Anxiety?It's normal to feel stressed or worried about things that happen in our everyday lives. However, people who experience anxiety disorders often feel heightened fear or worry about common situations.