Skin-Picking (Excoriation) Disorder

In skin-picking disorder, individuals repeatedly pick at their skin, damaging it.

  • Individuals with skin-picking disorder may feel tense or anxious just before they do it, and skin picking may relieve that feeling.
  • Medical professionals diagnose the disorder when people pick at the skin enough to damage it, try to stop picking at their skin and cannot, and are significantly distressed by their behaviour or function less well because of it.
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy that specifically focuses on skin-picking disorder and certain antidepressants or N-acetylcysteine may help lessen symptoms.

Skin-picking disorder is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Individuals with the disorder compulsively pick at or scratch their skin.

They do not do it to remove a spot that they think is unattractive (as individuals with body dysmorphic disorder do).

Some individuals pick at healthy skin. Others pick at calluses, pimples, or scabs.

Skin picking often begins during adolescence, although it may begin at other ages.

About 1 to 2% of individuals have the disorder, with about 75% of them being female.

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