Skin Picking Disorder (Excoriation): Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention Tips

We all have been in situations where we picked at a bump or a blemish on our skin. However, for some people, the urge to pick their skin becomes a constant struggle, often leading to physical and emotional distress. This condition is known as Skin Picking Disorder or Excoriation. It is a serious condition that can affect an individual’s quality of life. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention tips for Skin Picking Disorder.

What is Skin Picking Disorder (Excoriation)?

Skin Picking Disorder, also known as Excoriation Disorder or Dermatillomania, is a mental health condition characterized by recurrent and persistent picking of the skin that results in skin lesions. It can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly affects the face, neck, arms, and hands. People with this condition may spend hours every day picking their skin, resulting in scarring, infections, and emotional distress.

Causes of Skin Picking Disorder

The exact cause of Skin Picking Disorder is unknown, but research suggests that it may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with a family history of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or other anxiety disorders may be more susceptible to developing Skin Picking Disorder. Other possible contributing factors include stress, boredom, or trauma.

Symptoms of Skin Picking Disorder

Symptoms of Skin Picking Disorder include recurrent and persistent picking of the skin, resulting in skin lesions that can be open wounds, scabs, or scars. The skin picking may cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. Some people may experience shame, guilt, or embarrassment about their skin picking and may try to conceal it.

Treatment for Skin Picking Disorder

The treatment for Skin Picking Disorder typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective psychotherapy approach that helps individuals identify and modify negative thoughts and behaviors associated with skin picking. Medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms.

Prevention Tips for Skin Picking Disorder

Prevention tips for Skin Picking Disorder include identifying and avoiding triggers that may lead to skin picking, such as stress or boredom. Engaging in activities that keep the hands busy, such as knitting or drawing, can also be helpful in reducing the urge to pick. Identifying and addressing any underlying mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, can also help manage symptoms.


Can Skin Picking Disorder be cured?

While there is no known cure for Skin Picking Disorder, it can be effectively managed with proper treatment and self-care techniques. With the help of therapy and medication, many people are able to reduce their skin picking behaviors and improve their overall quality of life.

How common is Skin Picking Disorder?

Skin Picking Disorder is a relatively common condition, affecting an estimated 1.4% of the population. It can occur in people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds.

Is Skin Picking Disorder the same as Trichotillomania?

No, Skin Picking Disorder and Trichotillomania are two separate conditions. Trichotillomania is a condition characterized by recurrent pulling out of hair, while Skin Picking Disorder involves picking at the skin.

Can Skin Picking Disorder cause physical harm?

Yes, Skin Picking Disorder can cause physical harm such as scarring, infections, and other skin damage. In severe cases, it can also lead to significant emotional distress and impaired functioning.

How can I help a loved one with Skin Picking Disorder?

If you know someone who is struggling with Skin Picking Disorder, the best thing you can do is offer support and encourage them to seek professional help. You can also educate yourself about the condition and help your loved one identify triggers and develop healthy coping strategies.


In conclusion, Skin Picking Disorder is a serious condition that can cause physical and emotional distress. While the exact cause is unknown, it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Treatment for the condition typically involves a combination of therapy and medication, and self-care techniques such as identifying triggers and engaging in activities that keep the hands busy can also be helpful. With proper management, people with Skin Picking Disorder can improve their quality of life and reduce their symptoms.

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