Compulsive Skin Picking (Excoriation Disorder) Symptoms:
It is not uncommon for everyone to pick the occasional pimple or black head. However,
Dermatillomania, also know as Compulsive Skin picking and Excoriation Disorder, involves the recurrent picking of skin, often resulting in skin lesions, infections and scarring. Similar to Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling LINK), people with Excoriation Disorder are unsuccessful in their attempt to stop picking, despite genuine desires to do so.
Compulsive Skin Picking can take up hours a day and cause significant distress and loss of daily functioning. People with Dermotillomania may spend hours trying to cover up their damaged skin using clothing, makeup and first aid products. In many cases, people with TTM will withdraw from social settings and may develop Social Anxiety (LINK), which is the fear of being judged by others.
Overcoming Compulsive Skin Picking is not as easy as just stopping and is not just a matter of willpower. The good news is that you can get better. The use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be a very successful way to manage Excoriation Disorder. Cognitive Therapy teaches people with skin picking to identifying binge urges and triggers and how to restructure their distorted thoughts into more reasonable and rational thoughts.
Behavioral Therapy involves making small, but significant behavioral changes to reduce the chances of skin picking and to manage life stressors. Habit Reversal Training (HRT) is a behavioral tool used to reduce urges and strategically plan for triggers and events that can increase the likelihood of hair pulling.
Mindfulness can be an incredibly helpful tool to help those with skin picking to become more aware of their urges and to tolerate uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and sensations that often cause them go to pick at their skin. (Read more about Mindfulness here LINK)
If you have some or all of these symptoms and you feel like the above information describes you, see a qualified mental health professional for an assessment. Click here to contact Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT