I’m sure you and many others out there have their skin issues. Some have dry skin, some have acne, some have dark circles and some have wrinkles. Luckily, there are tons of skin care products out there that aim to help out with the majority of said skin problems. This post, however, will deal one disorder concerning skin that no lotions or medication can, as of now, truly help with, a disorder that is commonly called dermatillomania.
First things first, what the heck is dermatillomania?
- In simplest terms; it’s a repetitive and compulsive skin-picking disorder. Or, when someone has the continuous and inexplicable urge to pick at their skin, often to the point of damage.
- Also called excoriation disorder.
- The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ (DSM) fifth release actually classified excoriation (skin-picking) disorder as its own separate condition within the “Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders” section of the manual
- Usually, the average dermatillomaniac picks, squeezes and scratches at any perceived skin defect on their body. The face is the location that is mostly commonly picked at.
- Picking is strongly linked with stress and anxiety, and can be done both consciously and subconsciously.
- Picking is done primarily with fingers though some do use their teeth or tools like tweezers and needles.
- Picking sessions vary amongst individuals, some pick multiple times a day while others pick for hours in one sitting.
- Usually triggered by feeling or examining skin defects, and/or feeling anxious or other negative feelings.
- In the general population, the estimates of the number of sufferers range from 1.4% – 5.4%.
- Statistically, it is more commonly found in females than males
What are the dangers of dermatillomania?
- Tissue damage
- Mental health; to the point where the risk of self-harm rises, along with suicidal ideations and suicide attempts. Also, about 15% of sufferers are hospitalized in psychiatric hospitals.
- If severe enough, life-threatening injuries can occur as well. One notable case was when a woman picked through the skin of her neck and exposed a carotid artery.
Causes of dermatillomania?
- There are many theories out there, but the most popular hypothesis is that dermatillomania is a coping mechanism.
- Acne, eczema, psoriasis and others.
Treatment for dermatillomania?
- There’s not much out there about effective treatments, despite how many have the condition.
- There have been pharmacological studies done that have shown improvements with skin-picking with the help of medication, though nothing has been proven to lead to full remission.
- Behavioral treatments are also commonly used to treat skin-picking. One treatment, habit reversal training, includes awareness enhancement (increasing how aware you are before and /or while picking) and competing response training (for example, when dealing with a trigger, an individual may make a closed fist for a minute instead of picking at their skin)
- “Barriers” such as gloves or face masks can be used.
- A skin regiment to help achieve clearer skin can help. Although perfect skin is obviously unattainable, clearer skin means that there is less to pick at.
- For some, fake nails can help decrease picking.
- Notes taped in the areas where you most commonly pick. For example, large notes on bathroom mirrors can help dissuade the urge.
- Alarms set to go off around the times where one may pick. For example, if someone usually picks at the same time every morning, an alarm may remind them not to pick or stop them from picking further.
- This site has extremely helpful tips to combat dermatillomania.
Now isn’t that a buttload of information? Some of you may ask why I felt the need to bring this disorder to light, though I’m sure some of you have already guessed why.
I have been dealing with dermatillomania for 10+ years.
And I only found out about this disorder last month. Previously, I thought it was just a bad habit, a bad habit that very little people can relate to. Going through puberty as “that girl who wouldn’t look too bad if she didn’t have scabs everywhere” can do a lasting number on your self-esteem.
Finding out this was actually a disorder gave a bit of relief and a much needed finger to point with. Sure, it doesn’t ultimately solve the problem but naming the issue took a heavy burden off myself. Having a name gave me a community when I felt alone. Having a name allowed me to find tools to help stop, instead of continuously hoping for a time where I’d stop walking out of my bathroom ashamed and disappointed.
The stories of other’s dealing with their dermatillomania and their success stories are my strongest motivators to get better. If they can do it, then this disorder is beatable. This disorder can be conquered. And I want to add myself to the number of people who live better lives after winning said battle.
And that battle will start with the 30-day challenge. For 30 days, I promise I will not pick at my skin. No exceptions. A big zit pops up right on my chin? Nope. Not touching.
I will post updates every week on my skin’s condition and any relating ups and downs along with it. The posts will be linked down below.
Week 1 & Week 2: Click here!
Week 3: In progress~
Week 4: Coming soonClick here for info on the new updated challenge, #ProjectNoPick !
Some things that are helping me on my quest are:
- Acrylic nails; I’ve had them for a week and they don’t completely help. They do, however, make picking harder, especially scab-picking. Pimple-popping is unfortunately very much unaffected.
- Notes on my mirrors; I mostly pick in front of mirrors, with the exception of the times I pick at areas of my body other than my face. I have confidence I can stop body picking with my sheer determination, though face picking will definitely need the notes to continuously remind and motivate myself.
- Love and support of my family; having my family to chat with about my highs and lows helps me relieve stress that would otherwise be released on my skin.
- You; it’s silly but, making a promise on the worldwide web feels kind of binding. I may not have many readers but the obligation is still very much there.
Annnd, that’s all for now. I’ll hopefully see some of you guys in the updates. Wish me luck!
PS: Most the information found in this post was taken from the “Excoriation disorder” Wikipedia page, where legitimate references were used and listed. Feel free to click on the page for more details and further reading.