What is it?

Dermatillomania is a mental health condition where a person compulsively picks or scratches their skin, causing injuries or scarring. Also known as excoriation disorder or skin-picking disorder, this condition falls under the category of obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCDs).

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Skin Picking

Signs & symptoms

The main symptom of dermatillomania is compulsively - meaning, the impulse or urge is impossible or incredibly difficult to resist- picking at your skin. Experts also describe the act of skin-picking using the following words:
* Scratching.
* Digging.
* Squeezing.
* Rubbing.
Picking usually involves fingernails and fingertips but can also include biting with your teeth (especially when the skin surface affected is on your lips. It can also involve sharp items like tweezers or pins.


Diagnosing dermatillomania involves a combination of a physical exam, where your doctor looks for signs of this condition on your body. They’ll also ask you questions about your medical history, your life circumstances and any behaviors that might relate to this condition. Diagnostic and lab tests can help rule out other causes for skin picking but are rarely needed to confirm this diagnosis.
Diagnosing this condition requires meeting all five of the following criteria:
* Skin picking that’s ongoing or happens repeatedly.
* Multiple attempts to stop skin picking or to do it less often.
* Negative impact on various aspects of your life, including your work or social life, because of shame, embarrassment or other similar emotions.
* Skin picking behavior doesn’t happen because of any other medical condition, such as scabies or other skin-related conditions, or because of a drug (recreational or prescription).
* The skin picking behavior isn’t because of another mental health condition, such as body dysmorphic disorder, where you pick at your skin because you believe you have a problem with your appearance and you pick at your skin to try to fix that.


Treating dermatillomania usually involves a combination of medication and therapy. Research shows that combining the two tends to help more than just one type of treatment alone.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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