Dermatillomania is a skin-picking disorder that affects over 2% of Americans. Here’s what causes it and how to find relief.

We are all guilty of occasionally picking our pimples, some of us more so than others! But some people – between 2% and 5% of the population – find themselves doing it compulsively. This condition is known as excoriation disorder or dermatillomania. It isn’t a dermatological condition, rather a psychological one. It can, quite literally, leave its mark on your skin.

Excoriation disorder explained

Most people leave blemishes on their skin to heal as nature intended. Those who are affected with dermatillomania, however, have a compulsion to pick. In many cases, patients won’t even realize they are doing it. They find resisting the urge to pick near impossible. Skin picking is a body-focused repetitive behavior that can be caused by multiple factors, but is often a symptom of anxiety. It is suspected to be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Common areas on the body that those with dermatillomania target are:

  • Hands
  • Face
  • Scalp
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Lips

Statistics have also revealed that this condition disproportionately affects women, with 75% of cases being female. This is, in part, due to the unattainable beauty standards feel pressured to live up to, who end up spending hours in front of the mirror trying to pick away their imperfections.

The problem with dermatillomania is that it can cause further psychological upset by feeling ashamed about the condition. Physically, it can also, in severe cases, lead to infection.

Save your skin

While excoriation disorder can’t be treated by a dermatologist and requires the help of a psychologist, there are products that can prevent picking. They can also encourage healing and minimize scarring.

Rubber gloves or band-aids around your fingertips can be a hindrance. A lot of people have also found relief by keeping their hands occupied, with anything from fidget toys to knitting.

Hydrocolloid pimple patches are useful in preventing picking and keeping zits free from bacteria. Ointments, medicated creams, and oils can also be used to speed up the healing process and keep skin healthy.

Recovering from dermatillomania is not an overnight process, but it is possible. Need help getting your condition under control? Click here to find a therapist near you who specializes in the treatment of body-focused repetitive behaviors.