(Skin-Picking) Disorder


(Skin-Picking) Disorder

Is repetitive behavior in which people pick at their skin to the point of compulsion. Their behavior can include picking, scratching, even pulling at their skin.

This is not to be confused with the occasional skin picking that almost everyone has done at one point or another in their life. You know, scratching a scab, popping a pimple, a scalp sore, or even the nail cuticle. Excoriation is a chronic condition driven by impulses the sufferer finds difficult to control. According to Webmd.com, someone with this disorder may repeatedly scratch in order to remove what they perceive as a skin imperfection.

What are the symptoms?

  • The behavior consumes the majority of the person’s day.
  • Engaging in skin picking despite multiple attempts to address the behavior.
  • Developing recurring skin lesions or open wounds due to picking.
  • Noticeable scarring from the behavior.
  • Experiencing significant psychological, physical, or social impairment as a result of skin picking.

How does someone end up with this disorder? Does it happen overnight? Does it develop over a period of time? According to WebMD, the disorder develops in one of two ways:

  • The person picks at the scab or rash, causing more injury to the skin which keeps the wound from healing. This leads to more itching which leads to more scratching and picking which leads to more scabs which creates what seems like a never-ending cycle.
  • A time of extreme stress – the behavior begins as a way to elevate the stress. Over time it becomes a habit.

Excoriation disorder is classified as a type of Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB) putting it in the same category with hair-pulling disorder, nail picking that damages the body. In the DSM-5™ it is considered a type of OCD due to the compulsive urge to perform repetitive behaviors.

According to the International OCD Foundation, people with this disorder most often have other symptoms like depression and anxiety. Also, just because some picks at their skin does not mean they have Excoriation. If you or a loved one are experiencing the behavior listed above, please seek a proper medical diagnosis. Only with a proper diagnosis can those who suffer with this disorder can receive the appropriate help.

For more information read the IOCDF’s fact sheet.

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