What Everyone Should Know Concerning Dermatillomania (Impulsive Picking of Skin)

(Photo Credit: Health.uml.edu)
(Photo Credit:   Health.uml.edu)
(Photo Credit: Health.uml.edu)

Dermatillomania is a dysfunction which involves continuing and impulsive picking of your skin which will bring about disabilities of the skin. This impulse control condition is also referred to as pathologic skin picking, neurogenic excoriation, and compulsive skin picking. This is commonly associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), even though some experts say that it is more linked to substance abuse disorder. For the reason that dermatillomania may give joy and may cut the emotions of anxiety of a person with the disorder.


Individuals that suffer from dermatillomania predominantly display skin picking when they are stressed out, tense, or anxious. Most pick at their skin when they feel that there is something wrong with their skin or when they note some skin problems or imperfections. Some may even find skin picking as a way to release their stress. They sometimes pick at the skin on their face, fingers, toes, lips, chest, stomach, arms, legs, or even their scalp. Scars are commonly seen on these body parts.

As a result of constant obsessive skin picking, these people are at risk of skin ailment. This is especially true when their fingers or the tools they use in skin picking are not clean. They are also vulnerable to damaged tissues. In reality, some people with dermatillomania have inflamed, bleeding, or calloused skin. In addition there are a few patients who’ve systemic infection, or septicemia as an unwanted effect of dermatillomania.

People with dermatillomania also suffer from low self-esteem, guilt, and embarrassment. These intense emotions may even lead to further self-harm. In fact, there are some people with this disorder who have suicidal tendencies.


Specialists say that there are various hypotheses explaining the probable cause of dermatillomania. One of these hypotheses states that dermatillomania is a way for a person to cope with intense panic and anxiety. At the same time, another hypothesis explains that it’s a way of repressing an individual’s rage against his parents who might be regarded as expecting absolute obedience from that person.

There are also recent reports on pathologic skin picking. Based on these studies, excessive levels of dopamine in your body or consumption of drugs that further increase the amount of dopamine may lead to that intuition of picking at the skin. However, this conduct is controlled when drugs that restrict the result of dopamine are taken.

Other experiments, nevertheless, show that people with dermatillomania have lessened motor-inhibitory control than others who don’t have the dysfunction; even though both groups have the similar opportunity to think about a number of things at the same time or jump from thinking of one concept to another. Which means that some brain pathways responsible for controlling movements and behavior in pathologic skin pickers may be affected.

With these concepts, it can be deduced that not all skin pickers have skin disorders before they’ve dermatillomania. An additional belief that all skin pickers have a psychosis is also debunked.


There’s absence of proof on how dermatillomania is to be treated. The fact is, now, there is no drug created specifically to take care of this problem. However, some interventions for other ailments like OCD and panic disorders could also be used for people with dermatillomania. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which are usually used as pharmacological intervention for OCD, plus some drugs that are used in cocaine addiction may be used for compulsive skin pickers. Additionally it is said that an anti-epileptic drug called Topiramate may also be used. However ,, it is strongly advised to seek help from a psychiatrist before taking any medication.

Non-pharmacological interventions can also serve as cure for dermatillomania. Common behavioral treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance-enhanced behavior therapy. Habit reversal training, where the affected person is aided to become more alert to his issue, could also be used as treatment. In fact, some people are suggested to keep skin picking logs that allows them to enhance their degree of awareness on what they’re doing and preferably, enable them to deal with it. Some articles introduced mindfulness-based cognitive therapy as the second way of addressing dermatillomania, which allows the person to learn to recognize his problem and accept it, even though the behaviour is unpleasant.

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