Most people pick at their skin every now and then, such as when there’s a scab, pimple or bump. However, it is an entirely different matter if it’s being done all the time to the point that it is already interfering with the individual’s everyday life. Such is what’s referred to by mental health experts as skin picking disorder. Also sometimes called excoriation disorder or dermatillomania, it is a form of mental illness that is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.

If you want to learn more about skin picking disorder, keep on reading. Below you will come across some of the most important things about it, such as its causes, symptoms and treatment. Don’t forget to repost this article afterwards to get your family members and friends know about skin picking disorder, too.

Causes

Just like what’s mentioned earlier, skin picking disorder is affiliated with OCD, which is a form of anxiety disorder wherein the individual has recurring ideas, thoughts or sensations that drive him or her to do certain acts repetitively. Experts add that skin picking disorder is actually a body focused repetitive behavior or BFRB that usually develops around 13 to 15 years of age, although it may also occur in children below 10 years of age and adults between 30 and 45 years of age. Skin picking disorder is more common in women, but men may suffer from it, too.

Skin picking disorder may start when the individual picks at a rash, bump, infection or any other skin issue. Such can cause the problem to worsen, causing the symptoms to intensify. This can lead to further desire to pick at the skin, which then creates a vicious cycle.

Another common cause of skin picking disorder is stressed. In times of stress, the person may absentmindedly pick at his or her skin, and then later realize that it’s something that helps in relieving stress. This can become a habit that is carried out each time the individual feels stressed.

Because it is related to OCD, people who suffer from OCD are at higher risk of developing skin picking disorder. Experts add that it may actually run in families.

Signs and Symptoms

Just because you pick at your skin does not mean right away that you have skin picking disorder. The act should be something that you repeatedly carry out before it can be considered as a mental illness. Also, there should be repeated attempts to put an end to the behavior.

It’s important to note that having a skin condition that causes you to pick at your skin because it feels itchy, burning or something else should not be mistaken for skin picking disorder. It is not caused by a dermatological issue, or medication intake or substance abuse.

Just like most other mental illnesses out there, skin picking disorder can interfere with the person’s everyday living. For instance, he or she may spend a lot of time trying to keep the scars resulting from the disorder away from view, such as picking the right clothes or applying makeup on them. The person may also avoid going to the gym or beach as everyone may be able to spot the scars. The act of picking at the skin itself may take up a lot of the individual’s time.

Treatment

According to mental health professionals, skin picking disorder is best treated with medications and what’s called cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT.

Some of the medications that may be prescribed are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, which are intended for people with depression but may be beneficial, too, for those with OCD. On the other hand, CBT teaches the individual to change his or her thought pattern to help put an end to the desire to pick at the skin.

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