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Signs a person is dealing with Skin Picking Disorder

Skin Picking or Skin Picking disorder is a condition also known as "Excoriation Disorder," or "Dermatillomania." This disorder involves recurrent and compulsive picking at one's own skin, leading to tissue damage and often causing distress and impairment in various areas of life.


Excoriation Disorder is classified as an Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).

It shares some similarities with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), as both involve repetitive behaviours driven by distress or anxiety but comes under the definition of Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours.


The main features of Skin Picking include:

  1. Repetitive Skin Picking: Individuals with this disorder engage in repetitive picking at their skin, resulting in lesions, wounds, or tissue damage. The picking can involve any part of the body, but it often focuses on the face, arms, and hands.

  2. Tissue Damage: The picking is severe enough to cause tissue damage, which can lead to scarring, infections, and other physical complications.

  3. Distress and Impairment: The picking behavior causes significant distress to the individual, often due to their inability to control the behavior. Additionally, the disorder can interfere with daily functioning, including work, social interactions, and other important activities.

  4. Failed Attempts to Stop: People with Skin Picking often try to stop or reduce the picking behaviour but find it challenging to do so. Despite their efforts, the urge to pick may be overwhelming.

  5. Triggering Factors: The picking behavior may be triggered or exacerbated by stress, anxiety, boredom, or other emotional states.

  6. Co-occurring Conditions:Skin Picking may occur alongside other mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder.

Treatment approaches for Skin Picking include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)/habit reversal training. CBT aims to identify and modify the thoughts and behaviours associated with skin picking, while habit reversal training teaches individuals alternative behaviours to replace the skin picking action.


If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms similar to those described, it's important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and develop a personalised treatment plan to address the challenges posed by Skin Picking Disorder.

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