12 Dermatillomania Myths Dispelled

stop-signWith the DSM 5 now officially released, it is imperative that we eliminate all misconceptions about Dermatillomania (aka, “Excoriation Disorder”) and spread the word before these ideas become the majority thought. Many of us have already heard many of the myths listed below, so we need to make sure that these reflections don’t become accepted views on what Dermatillomania is and how it affects us.

1.  MYTH: Skin pickers can just stop at any time.
TRUTH: If this were the case, we would have already stopped because it causes us emotional distress having to deal with the aftermath of marks on our bodies. Our brains are activated by a reward system that reduces anxiety once we get a “good pick”, which can make us feel accomplished thus making us continue the behavior. By the time we get a diagnosis, we will already have the behavior ingrained in our daily rituals, making it much more difficult to reverse the behavior and find other coping mechanisms. We pick at our skin to reduce anxiety but then become anxious because of the visible marks we make, which heightens our anxiety, then we engage in the behavior again as a way to reduce that anxiety, creating a vicious cycle.

2.   MYTH: All skin pickers have an underlying skin disorder causing the need to pick.
TRUTH: While many people start picking at their skin due to skin disorders (ie. Acne, Eczema), not all have one to start with. Having one can trigger the onset of Dermatillomania, but many of us have started with picking at perceived flaws such as multiple pimples/ blackheads causing the compulsive behavior. Some skin pickers, mostly those who are prone to Body Dysmorphic Disorder, never had a skin disorder but found imperfections to pick at.

3.   MYTH: Picking at your skin is the same as “cutting”/ burning.
TRUTH: This is the one that aggravates all of us pickers. There’s nothing as dismissive as when someone tries to relate to you by saying, “Oh, I know what you’re going through… I used to cut myself”. Yes, people are trying to relate but that lack of knowledge about what Dermatillomania is drives us mad!  Some people with Dermatillomania engage in other self-harming behaviors, but it’s not a prerequisite to having the disorder nor is there a direct attachment between the two. A person who cuts (even if it’s compulsively) does so to feel the physical pain in order to release endorphins making him/her feel better as a distraction to not have to cope with emotional turmoil. Many skin pickers have a cognitive distortion that justifies them in picking, so they get on a “mission” and can dissociatively ignore most of the physical pain in order to achieve what they’re set out to “accomplish”.

4.   MYTH: Everybody pops some zits… does that mean everyone has Dermatillomania to some degree?
TRUTH: Dermatillomania isn’t as simple as popping some pimples. There is an obsessive nature behind the urge, which is why it’s been classified under OCD and Impulse Control Disorders. There is a repetitive nature behind picking at your skin whether it’s a conscious decision to place yourself in front of a mirror and ‘search’, an action that begins without you noticing while you watch TV, or something you do while you sleep. Skin picking becomes a disorder when you are unable to stop yourself in the moment, can’t control when you’re doing it/ how often you do it, and it affects your day-to-day living while affecting your self-esteem.

5.   MYTH: To be a compulsive skin picker means that you do so because you hate yourself a LOT.
TRUTH: Many people with Dermatillomania start off with low self-esteem and feel like they want to fix something that is wrong with them and use skin picking as a socially acceptable way of making themselves feel better (it’s acceptable because it’s not noticeable until it becomes a disorder). For all of us, self esteem issues arise or are exasperated by this disorder because we feel alone, can’t control our urges, and blame ourselves; it also prevents us from feeling accepted, makes us feel judged (if the truth came out), not understood, and stops us from even anywhere remotely close to “normal”. The stigma of the disorder and the judgments regarding the marks on our faces/ bodies are what drive us to further feelings of isolation and self-loathing.

6.   MYTH: People who pick at their skin, leaving marks, do it for attention.
TRUTH: Quite the opposite, actually. We spend much of our time trying to cover up the damage we inflict with makeup or clothing so that we can face the world without anyone noticing our scars because a high majority of us are ashamed of the marks- not just because they irritate our skin, but because the action that caused it was at our own doing and continues to be. We try to hide the fact that we have this disorder because it isn’t well-known to the public and the stereotypes attached to it are damaging.

7.   MYTH: Picking at your skin to the extent that it causes noticeable damage on a daily basis means that you are under the influence of illegal narcotics (ie. Meth).
TRUTH: Methamphetamine is a stimulant that can result in skin picking from hallucinations of something under the skin, which falls under an amphetamine psychosis. It is also a stimulant that increases focus and speeds up thought processes, which can stimulate obsessive behavior. Once the drug is removed from the body, the user’s behavior is more than likely to disappear because it is the source that induced the Dermatillomania. Those of us who don’t do drugs have different root causes for our skin picking (see next MYTH).

8.   MYTH: Skin pickers see things on or under their skin that isn’t there; they are experiencing a psychosis.
TRUTH: A smaller percentage of skin pickers do experience psychosis, but there isn’t  a direct correlation between skin picking and psychosis; the most common co-morbid disorders to go along with Dermatillomania are Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), Anxiety Disorders, Trichotillomania, Depression, and Personality Disorders. In the cases of a psychosis being the main cause of the skin picking, the behavior will discontinue when the psychosis is treated; keep in mind, there are a smaller number of individuals with psychosis who have Dermatillomania as a separate issue- it is a disorder, not a symptom, for these individuals.

9.   MYTH: Dermatillomania is a made-up disorder made to enhance the DSM- if it were a real disorder, it would’ve already been in there.
TRUTH: Why would someone make something like this up- what is there to gain from it? Trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder) was added in the DSM III- R while skin picking remained a symptom of other disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, falling under the conventional self-harm category. It was considered to be self-injurious (since causing harm to your skin creates marks) but it wasn’t further explored as a stand-alone disorder until later May of 2013. This is one reason why co-morbidity is so high with other mental illnesses. The other reason is that Dermatillomania affects much more of a person’s life that by the time it’s recognized, it’s already created problems in other areas of functioning which attributes to other mental illnesses.

10.  MYTH: Picking at your skin is just a bad habit.
TRUTH: While the behavior of skin picking can be considered habitual in nature, dumbing it down to “habit” is hurtful to us; when we hear of a “bad habit” we can’t help but think of instances such as it being a bad habit for a male to never put the toilet seat down in a predominantly female household despite reminders, cutting your toenails and not throwing away the clippings on a regular basis, or consistently not wiping crumbs off of a counter after fixing yourself a sandwich when being told to a million times. It is better classified as obsessive-compulsive or even a behavioral addiction.

11.  MYTH: Skin picking isn’t a serious issue- it’s superficial because it only hurts someone’s appearance.
TRUTH: The simple act of a person popping a few zits is harmless, but the disorder Dermatillomania IS a serious issue that affects all facets of life. Social and physical isolation, suicidal ideations, embarrassment, a lack of control that starts to trickle into work/ school/ other thoughts (depression and/or obsessive), and anxiety over a lack of control, being seen with marks, social anxiety, or generalized anxiety. This is just a short list of how it hits us emotionally, but it isn’t the only way we are affected.

Physically we are prone to infections, even if we keep our “picking tools” (clippers, tweezers, pins, etc.) and picking areas clean. There are life-threatening bacteria out there that are resistant to anti-biotics and all it takes it one wrong one to enter a wound before there’s nothing you can do about it. Of course these are more rare circumstances, but there’s a reason why our guardians had a ritual for us when we scraped our knee that included cleansing, Polysporin (or rubbing alcohol), and a bandage- imagine having to do that to every wound all the time! From entering the “trance-like state” where we dissociate and don’t feel the full effects of the pain we’re inflicting, we can (and it’s documented) tear into muscle or veins/ arteries that need immediate medical attention.

It may seem superficial to many, but when you have a malformation that you can say was done by your own hands, the shame and guilt is enough to consume a person.

12.  MYTH: There is no treatment for Dermatillomania.
TRUTH: Here is the good news- there are treatments to this disorder and recovery IS possible. While Dermatillomania is highly resistant to treatment, there are methods that are known to help the sufferer. The most common treatments are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)  which includes Habit Reversal Therapy and Stimulus Control and/ or SSRI’s (anti-depressants) to try to lessen the severity of the urges. A combination of CBT and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is what helped me. Other methods include, but are not limited to, meditation, yoga, support groups, or online BFRB classes. Also, barriers are effective in preventing skin pickers from engaging in the behavior, or in helping to notice that they are, while fiddle toys can keep anxious hands busy.

Research has been done on a supplement called N- Acetyl Cysteine which increases levels of gluthione in the body, seen in a study to reduce the urges of hair pulling when taken in higher dosages. It has not yet been looked into for long term use past 3 months, so it isn’t an approved method but shows promise for people with BFRB’s.

Dermatillomania: No, I don't have cancer, AIDS, a "bad habit", an infectious disease, and I don't do drugs. I pick my skin and it's a real disorder- I am not alone.

Share this article or click “like” at the top of the page to further help make this disorder known to the general public so we can all gain access to treatment providers and educate the world about a little-known disorder that affects up to 3% of the population.


Check out the five star documentary Scars of Shame and Angela’s ground- breaking memoir FOREVER MARKED: A Dermatillomania Diary. Like Angela on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and join her on instagram.
    • Rebecca

      Ditto what Kat said. I haven’t had medical benefits for a few years so I haven’t officially been diagnosed, but I’ve been searching off and on for 5 years trying to figure out what this is. When I found the information on dermatillomania out there on the internet (including this site) I literally cried in joy and sadness that others are experiencing this too (joy of not being alone, sadness because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone).

      • I have this inner- conflict too, Rebecca. I want more people to find all online supports, be informed, find out they aren’t alone in their struggles but once true awareness about this disorder is acknowledged years from now we’ll see just how many people suffer. A lot of people stay away from professionals also, fearing the reactions they may get from an uninformed doctor/ therapist. When you do have the means to look further into your diagnosis medically (if you choose to), ask around for professionals who deal with various matters on the OCD Spectrum, including detail Dermatillomania. Many times having this disorder means there is a co-morbidity of another mental health affliction that may be exasperating symptoms of the picking. In the meantime, there are lots of resources I’ve compiled on http://www.skinpickingsupport.com that you may find useful. 🙂

    • macy

      I know how you feel. Everyday I wake up and look in the mirror and just stare……i mainly pick at my chest so it makes it extremely hard to buy shirts bc I dont want someone to see that I pick…..wishing you could.just stop…i hate looking at myself…then you feel like no one will ever be attracted to you…its a lot to bare and for someone to say its not serious obviously has never walked in our shoes

  • Thank you so much for dispelling some of the myths surrounding Dermatillomania. As a sufferer of Derma for over 20 years now, I’ve heard them all! I especially hate the drug addiction myth. I have been accused many times of being a meth addict because of the marks all over my body, particularly my arms. In fact it even caused me to lose a job once. I don’t do drugs and I don’t ever think there are things under my skin so I become angered when people can be so naive about this condition. Then again there is not nearly enough awareness of it as there should be. It’s great to see others putting themselves out there and giving this condition a much-needed-voice in society. Thank you!

    • Oh no… I can’t believe you lost a job over something false! Nevertheless, having a meth addiction isn’t a reason to fire an employee anyway. I also get angry hearing about this condition in vain or misunderstood because it’s real and the suffering is beyond what other disorders have (not to compare per say, but we don’t have the supports or even education from clinicians) which destroys lives. I think there are many types of Dermatillomania that will be exposed as research continues, but sadly we must wait until that happens. Until then, we can support each other and be each other’s encouragement. 🙂

    • Tiffany Spangler

      OMG!!! That angers me so much too! But in a way, I’m kind of glad that somebody asked my husband if I was using meth. If it wasn’t for that person, I wouldn’t be on here looking for help. I knew people looked at me with disgust and pity, but never knew what their real thoughts were. Another person I came across would get mad at me every time I picked, she told me I could just stop if I wanted to. Well dummy, I want to, but can’t stop!!! They should think that if I could just stop picking, I would have done so by now. So many people are uninformed and ignorant. So many people feel they have to lay their “insights” on you when they don’t know shit. I could go on and on.

  • Christina Wallace

    I was wondering if there are any societies in the UK that would maybe like some fundraising assistance for this disorder? Any direction you could point me in would be awesome.
    My sister has Trich and seeing what she goes through is hell. I would like to offer a fundraising oppertunity to any society who might greatly benefit to all related disorders.

    Kind regards and respect on your open veiw and bravery.

    Christina Wallace

    • Hi Christina,

      I’m not sure about fundraising opportunities in the UK, but http://www.trich.org has international resources for skin picking and hair pulling, although most of them are US based. Try taking a look there for ways to help; I have come across UK Trich sites so I know they exist! 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, what a great article! I’ve posted a link to it on my skin picking blog. 🙂

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  • Wow, this was a GREAT post. I have recently learned about dermatillomania, but I’m quite sure I’ve had it for several years. I look forward to reading your other posts, and looking around on your blog. Great site!!

  • Leanne

    Thank you for starting this support website and for this post. It hits the nail on the head and describes all the things I have felt over the years because of this disorder. The isolation, self-loathing, and shame are the worse. Those mornings when I have to figure out what to wear to cover my arms and chest and shoulders and collar bones – those are such awful mornings. I hardly recognize myself anymore (both physically and psychologically). This disorder definitely overwhelms me and makes me feel apart from everyone else in society. I wish I had the courage to tell more people that I suffer from this, or even post it on FB – but I’m too ashamed so I keep it hidden (except for about 4 people who I have confessed it to). I’ve also often thought about AA meetings from the perspective that I would LOVE to have that feeling of being included in a group where i don’t have to hide or feel shame. That would be an amazing feeling. Sometimes it’s hard to remember I am a person outside of this disorder that wears me down and makes me so sad.

    • I understand completely, Leanne. Sometimes it’s hard to see past the scars we’ve created and our self-image becomes distorted because of this. Some people have used AA’s 12 step program as a way to curb their picking. While I am not a fan of the AA model, I can respect its value and successes it has achieved for its original purposes… but there are mental health groups you may want to look into for inclusion about the feelings you are experiencing to know you aren’t alone in that, even if others can’t directly relate to what’s causing them for you. xox

  • Jenn

    Very well said! Thank you soo much for posting. 🙂 im at the point where i dont care who knows i have this issue.the more awareness the better.nobody even knew i had it because i didnt WANT anyone to know i did.i would move (still do who am i kidding!) from one area to another depending on certain things like the weather,clothing i would be wearing soon,my work schedule etc. there are worse things that we could do than pick ya know? so ive shared this on my FB and will continue to raise awareness! 🙂 i believe there are more underlying issues at hand like gmos and vaccinations etc that over the past 20 years have dramatically increased diseases and disorders.but thats just my opinion.Ive picked (also a tad of trichotillomania as well) since i can remember.probably since about 5 years old.the longest ive gone w/out picking is 2 weeks tops.im sure i cheated myself alittle here n there but for the most part did good.it is a viscious cycle.i also believe the more natural approach the better.all drugs have side effects that bring on other issues while only masking the underlying issues that may cause these disorders.

  • I wanted to say thank you. Your openness has inspired me to be more honest about my condition as well, and I’ve even gone so far as to make a public blog post about it (here: http://somnuseternus.blogspot.com/2013/02/ocd-dermatillomania-and-me.html , if you’re curious).

    I can’t tell you just how isolated I felt before I stumbled on this page. I really, truly thought I was alone in this, but it’s like we share a story.

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  • sue

    You all may think I’m nuts but I have a 3 year old granddaughter who will not stop picking the skin from her fingers. Having skin on her fingers drives her crazy! Before I even read some of the comments and articles I said to my daughter that what my granddaughter is doing seems to have some OCD familiarity to it. One article I read said a very small percentage of children under the age of 10 can have this disorder, but 3 years old? Is that even possible? I am definitely concerned. She does it at home and at daycare, which they have also brought to our attention. Do we dare bring her to her pediatrician and have it probably chalked up to dry skin or something else? We put lotion on her.

    • Beth

      My daughter also picked at anything and everything. We do not have a picture of her from after 2 without an sore. Dermatologist told us she would grow out of it. 15 years later we are still fighting it. She developed a lot of anxiety over the years.

    • Kara Noel

      First off, she may have eczema (which commonly occurs on hands) and be uncomfortable. I would take her to a pediatrician immeditately. I’m not sure why a doctor telling you it’s dry skin is any kind of “risk.”

      She may also have an dermatitis from something she’s come in contact with. If the lotion you are using on her contains mineral oil or other chemicals, it could make it worse. Get a lotion like cetaphil that is designed for skin conditions like this.

      With either eczema or dermatitis, the doctor may precribe/reccommend a cortison cream. I would wait to talk to a doctor before applying it, though. It can have side effects and isn’t appropriate in all circumstances.

      And last, 3 is not too young to develop a picking disorder. I began picking at my scalp when I was 4-5. I’ve been doing it off and on since (I’m 40).

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  • Mitzi

    Thank god for the SSRI’s. I only have 3 open holes right now. You have no idea how huge that is for me. I just wish I knew this all when I was a kid. I was far too little to have pimples, I didn’t have any image issues, I just NEEDED to make the holes. It never hurt, but I knew it was bad. I used to lie and tell my parents I was itchy (so many medical creams, obviously they didn’t do a thing). I would even scratch in my sleep, I would wake up with my fingers all bloody… I cut my nails once, I cut them so far down I couldn’t possibly scratch. I made it almost two whole days before I just couldn’t stand it anymore and I made a really bad mess of my leg using a hairbrush. The damage was so bad I never cut my nails down again after that. I just learned to wear long pants or at least 3 pairs of stockings at a time, throw away anything white. … Eventually I trained myself to stop scratching my legs, but I started scratching my arms instead. By the time I weaned myself off my arms I was attacking my face, then my back, then my scalp (seriously, never dye your hair with holes in your scalp), etc etc queue vicious cycle. … Not until I met someone with this same problem did I get any real help at all and its like magic! It worked really well for me and I went from dozens of holes to almost none overnight! Now I see my cousin covering familiar spots on his legs and I know just what to tell him.

  • Pam New

    I am a fellow Bluenoser, but I was transplanted to Ontario many years ago. A few days ago my Mom told me about the article in the Herald, and she kindly sent it along for me to read. I have to say that I KNOW I have been a picker for a long time, but only to a mild degree by the sounds of things. (rarely more than a couple dozen spots at any 1 time) Actually, I think it is mostly the pain that helps me keep the numbers and severity under control. But there are times when even though it has made me cry, I still feel like I am watching myself carry on my merry way picking at every little cut, scratch or whatever. And it is only the last couple years that I have been trying to figure out what was going on, why I do it, and how I can stop. When I first even realized/noticed what I was doing, I thought it was like my migraines. I have had some good success with a process called “Focusing” (there is a book out with this title, and I think the last name of the author is Gendlin, written in the 80’s sometime) for my headaches, and I was sure this could lead me to an understanding of why . From there it would be a quick fix. Then on to some “Thentix” lotion to help fade the marks and done! Since then, I have gone on a journey thinking it might be an addiction, or a symptom of OCD, or just a bad habit that now I was aware of doing it I could easily stop. My husband has started yelling at me and slapping my fingers, assuming that will be the end of it, because he says so!!! AS IF!!!! Or maybe I should say, if only *sigh Truthfully, I have been wondering if keeping everything covered up just makes things worse, so this summer I plan to try getting out in the open and the sun more. I wear t-shirts and long pants because my husband has a real thing about the possibility of skin cancer from the sun. But I used to enjoy being in the sun, not excessively, but often. This is the next step I plan to take/try.
    Thanks for listening to my little tale. I am always pleased to meet new. folks

  • Claire

    I just turned 15 and I have had dermatillomania since I was about 12. I never knew what it was or really thought about what it was until I stumbled upon this disorder yesterday. I had always thought that it was just me and I had something seriously just wrong with myself. It got so bad that for a whole year at least, every single night I would stand with my face up at the mirror and try to squeeze out and pick out all the little marks that I would see or think are forming. I couldn’t pull myself out of it while I did that or even try to, but after I would feel self conscious and like I have to hide myself. I also pick at my fingers and pull the skin off around the nail as a sort of compulsion which really hurts and when I do it at school and my fingers start bleeding I get really nervous and uncomfortable and have to wrap the sore in my jacket sleeve to stop the bleeding. Both of these compulsions really interfere with my life but are just so hard to control. Ways that I have tried to prevent it are: not touching my face to feel any bumps or anything, holding my hands tight behind my back when I walk into a bathroom and look in the mirror, getting something small to hold and keep my hands busy when I would otherwise pick at my fingers, and walking outside when I feel like I’m about to pick my face.
    Thank you so much for everything that you do and making people more aware of this disorder. 🙂

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  • Terri Sneddon

    Finally a name for what I am doing 🙂 I’ve been picking at my skin mostly face, back & arms for as long as I can remember I’m now 36 I have good times and bad thought I was alone I would love to get help but every GP I have ever had has told me they aren’t infected and just stop 🙁 easier said then done so glad I stubbled on to this site by just googling skin picking didn’t expect to find anything. maybe next time I go to the dr I can show him this website and get help. I’m getting married in 10.5 mths and want to look my best and I know I have future operations coming up. I was so scarred they wouldn’t do the last one I had 6 weeks ago as they asked if I had any scarring or wounds I had 4 days to try to not pick & let them heal I wore gloves and moisturised and drank lots of water it helped a little but I felt like I was going to go nuts like now I have the urge thank god my hands are busy and I am thinking about it.

  • john foote

    hello im so glad I found this soport ..im realy getting so sick from picking sores all over me and thay are allways raw and getting real big…this is the first websit that I found that in all the years ive been searching the web wow im loking for a doctor that may help me …

  • Taylor

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve had trichotillomania since I was 5 (I’m 23 now) and suffered for a long time; strangers asked prodding questions/made rude or just plain mean comments, and even my close friends and family did from time to time. Now that it’s more widely understood, I encounter this less often–but it does still happen, and it definitely still hurts. I’m just more comfortable with myself to shut them down or educate the ignorant, haha.

    I also just found out recently that my father had dermatillomania–though I’m sure he didn’t know it had a name. My mother picks at her scalp and often has deep wounds under her hair. My little brother came to me recently and asked if a wound on his face was infected–when I asked where he’d gotten it, he admittedly shamefully he’d done it to himself, to “even out” his skin after a pimple came in. Because of my struggle with trich and the research I’d done, I was able to educate him about dermatillomania and help him realize what he’s been doing all these years–in secret–is nothing to be ashamed of.

    I spent so many years wondering, “Why me? Why did I get trich and no one else in my family did?” But now I realize that I’m NOT the odd one out. My entire family suffers from the same core problem; really, it was just a fluke I started pulling my hair instead of picking my skin.

    When I became pregnant, I started picking at my scalp. Though a new habit, it progressed quickly and is now almost as severe as my trich. I don’t like that I do it, obviously, but I’m able to accept it fairly easily because of my experience with hair-pulling. I’ve always picked scabs (I actually eat them, too–is that weird or do other people do that?) so honestly, the scalp-picking felt natural, and kind of inevitable.

    Anyway. I just wanted to say thanks again for posting this. TTM and DTM are very similar in so many ways, and unfortunately share so many of the same misconceptions. Maybe someday the truth about these conditions will be common knowledge. Until then, all we can do is help spread the correct knowledge to others.

  • Ashley

    I’m glad someone understands out there that these things are not just a bad habit or to be written off so lightly. I’ve had this for YEARS. I find it weird, though that everybody seems to know how old they were when it started. I really cant say when I started, one day I just noticed that I did it for long hours and it made me feel so much better until I pulled away from the mirror and saw how damaged my face was and I felt like crying. However, this is my normal. I’ve always been really great at makeup and wear it really well, so alot of negative emotions were do-able and really only limited to right after I did it. But then one day I was in my moms living room and realized I was picking at my skin without a mirror, and without my even knowing I was doing it. Thats when everything got bad. I would do it at work, at my moms house, everywhere. and it got so bad that makeup didnt really cover it all that well. What upset me the most is that I have very beautiful, resilient skin. I always have, so the only thing keeping me from feeling pretty is me. also, I’ve felt more embarrassed as ever because I recently got married and my husband sees it now, not just me. He says I’m still beautiful, but everyone on this site knows its not. You can take the most attractive person alive with the physical effects of this and they will look ugly.

  • Katrina

    I don’t know if it’s considered dermatillomania at all, but when I get severely stressed or anxious.. I tend to scratch and pick at my scalp or my upper arms (I have little bumps that are like dry skin). It’s probably a lot less severe than it could be. But it does become distressing. I know my scalp isn’t from dandruff alone because I wash my hair often enough and use a special shampoo (I’ve been through just about every dandruff shampoo). Anyway.. Today I saw my sister scratching her scalp. And I know she’s going through a lot. But suddenly I didn’t feel alone. Then I found this. Thank you.

    • fxk2

      Thank you for this reply. Everything you mention hits really home, bringing a moment of mixed sadness, relief, compassion, and mostly, HOPE.
      I’m aware this disease will be with me throughout a lifetime, and I’ve managed to find medications that actually work, even though the disease is still inside me. Now, I can actually function and make it through my day. Progress is progress, This is a world of progress, compared to horrors in past experience while the illness was out of control. I don’t even know how I managed to stay alive, and I will do everything in my power to avoid going back.

      thank you

  • Maria

    thank you so much. I think my mother suffers by dermatillomania, but no doctor “sees” it, nor she really wants to be cured (she’s “just” …desperate -and i’m too. My legs, too, seem that image).
    Thanks for your help.
    -Sorry about my awful english, i can read but not write it-.
    Have a good life, more than ours.

  • Maria

    “more than ours”: sorry, maybe “better”, not “more”

  • Marie

    thank you everyone for your comments.I am the adult daughter of a habitual alcoholic. I remember when I was 5 I started picking my feet my toes until they bled. I would put hydrogen peroxide and alcohol on them, wrap them in band aids and put my shoes and socks on and walk in pain daily.I graduated to ripping my fingernails and skin from around the nails, but they too were easily hidden with a bandaid here or there. today I’m 43 years old and just found out through this website that I have a condition, a real disorder. I know now that I’m not alone. I’ve been suffering in silence since I was a child. Now I have to find help; I just want to say thank you, thank you all for your bravery incoming forward, out into the light. Thank you for letting me be me, allowing me to be heard and finally admit this out loud.

  • Vera rudinica

    I only became aware of this disorder recently when I noticed a daily ritual of picking my scalp all over. I got tremendous feelings of satisfaction and competence if I was able to have the scalp all smoothed out and no bumps left standing ( so to speak). It stated as an unconscious scratching whilst talking to people and then developed into a systematic daily activity and then some more. My fingers would start tingling to get at my scalp and quite unconsciously I would find my hands in my hair.
    Not sure about anti depressants helping because I have been on them for years and only developed this quite recently.
    I guess if we have a predisposition to compulsive behavior it is just one more expression of that. I only need to do a new behavior or learn something new and off I go, good or bad. Weird as. Great to have sites like this for reading other peoples experiences and learn of new ways of looking at this behavior .

  • Barb Germann

    I recently saw an episode of Dr. Phil where this issue was discussed. I have been picking since I was a teenager and am now 58 years old so have lots of scars to remind me of the compulsion. I confess that I thought it was a “bad habit” and I lacked impulse control – therefore it was my fault I picked and my fault I couldn’t stop. Since the show I have been researching the issue and am so relieved to learn I am not alone. I am heading to my GP today for a referral….am excited to get started at stopping.

  • Kitten Schaefer

    I’m so happy that i am not the only one. Am 48 and have picked since a way young child. Staryed with knee scabs and well…got worse. No haircut in over 10 yrs (scalp sores=scared to go), when i had ins, was told by multiple dr’s to….just stop, grow up, wear gloves, etc…..i cant wait tobe alone so i can pick…i am disgusted and so lonely. I live in my room so no one will see me and all my “angry” sores. Tried natural remedies but am just so ready to give up. Never wanted to be alone but no guy in their right mind would want to touch me or be seen with this. Pick so much and consistantly that my skin burns 24/7…thighs, rear, upper arms, upper back and scalp. I have no job nor ins. Thank you for letting me open up….no looks of “judging” or disgust here

  • K

    Thank you so much for this informative and refreshing article. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone, however, I would never wish this disorder on anyone.
    My symptoms started when I was about 6 or 7. I pulled my eyelashes out one by one, without realizing what I was doing. Nothing helped when I’d try to stop, until all my eyelashes were finally gone. Then I started chewing the inside of my mouth until breaking the skin, causing open sores, irritation and sometimes worse. By 8, I grew into bulimia. A full blown eating disorder, lasting 25 years and amost killing me. Skin picking started in early college, I struggle every day with my overwhelming urge to pick, pop, scratch ect. I’ve never experienced skin problems or acne, but I hate how the scars look on my face. It’s the most isolating feeling, accompanied by shame and guilt. After many years doing modeling, I feel like the marks on my face can’t even be covered in Photoshop. And I’m terrified of being seen in the wrong lighting or without makeup.
    My heart goes out to all of you who struggle with this illness. The pain is unbelievable, but at least we understand each other’s feelings.

  • K

    Btw, I’ve been on 40mgs of celexa for many years now. This medication has seriously changed my life, I can’t say enough positive things about it. I recommend trying it, although medication is different for everyone. Keep in mind, finding a medication that works is always a trial and error basis. Don’t give up the search, there’s meds out there which will help improve your life. Just be patient and don’t give up!

  • Molly

    My skin picking started as a teenager. But i picked at my fingers, my right index finger was my main target. It was always sore, especially to write with, and I usually covered it with a bandaid, to hide it’s uglyness. It wasn’t until years later I stopped picking my finger. All seemed well until I met a man had a child to him. He cheated on me many times and was awful to me so for 6 years I picked at my skin any lump I picked at and scratched and squeezed. I had boils on my face (very very painful) now scared, which adds to the lumps and imperfections on my chin, eyebrow, lip and back of my neck. Since leaving the relationship (1year now) my picking has extended to my chest and boobs. I’m a single mum running a business that up until recently made me very little coin. I notice when I get busy and stressed I tend to find lumps and make sores on my face. It’s an aweful disease and no one understands who doesn’t have it. I’m on antidepressants (due to the ex) have been for 2-3 years. I wish it would just go away like I achieved with my finger, I almost prefer to go back to my finger at least I could cover it up although it was always so painful.

  • Molly

    My daughter picks at her fingers too. Not from seeing me do it. Could this disease perhaps have a herideritory line to it? How can I get my daughter to stop when I can’t stop picking at the lumps on my skin?

    • fxk2

      yes, this is a very strong genetic predisposition. Unfortunately, medical research and the study neurological function cannot be identified as easily because we lack information needed to determine family history of the disease. Whether or not you have a family member who recieved accurate diagnosis or treatment, the disease is very apparent once symptoms begin to surface. My brother and I have ADHD, depression. It became unmanageable by the time we reached late teen’s or early 20’s. At age 6, I fully developed extreme habits and behaviors, by age 8, full-blown bulimia. Over the years, various habits manifested and deeply effected my life. My mother suffered from mild depression and OCD, however, my father suffered from schizophrenia. Neither of them ever recieved the correct diagnosis or treatment. Over the years, I watched schizophrenia transform my dad into someone I never knew. He’s lost more than anyone can imagine, leading to a devastating bankruptcy, millions in assets and real estate, and losing a successful business he dedicated a lifetime to building.

      I wish I had the answers to your parenting dilemma, but I don’t.
      Only suggestion is to speak with her directly about what she’s facing, and support her 100% of the way. Tell her its totally ok to feel lost with the behavior, but there’s medical professionals who may help, before it gets worse…
      Let her know, she’s not alone. She’s NOT facing it alone. You may not understand 100% of her feelings, but she’s not alone.

      best of luck

  • Hope

    I wish there was some easy way to stop..I’m only 13 and have suffered for years…I have many scars and hyperpigmnetation on my arms, face, back, and shoulders. I restrict myself very much on my clothing because I don’t want anyone to see my marks. I’ve tried using makeup to cover up..It’s extremely depressing. I’m also Arab, so the dark marks stand out on my skin. I wish could get some help before something this serious stops me from living..

  • Sheila Hilpertshauser

    Wow. After years and years of picking at my fingers and now at my face; after years and years of my mother telling me to stop and now of my husband begging me to stop…and after years and years of wanting to stop, but telling myself that this time I will finally scrape off all the dead skin and all the scabs off my face and then I won’t have to pick anymore…just this once…just this one last time…and realizing there is never just one last time…the scabs keep coming, the facial hair keeps needing to be plucked and the dead skin on my fingers keeps returning…I cant’ stop.

  • me

    Just a useful tip for while you are watching TV. Put a wet cloth on top of the areas that you pick at. It helps remind you not to pick. Make sure that it is damp though otherwise it will just be like a blanket and you can accidentally forget why it is there. Also, figure out when you pick and find something that requires your attention for that time. Pottery might be good, lots of smoothing out and might give the same feeling if “yes, I made it clean and pretty”. Hope this helps.

  • Julie

    I have suffered from this since i was about 13 – so about 26 years. The only thing that has changd is the intensity of my need to pick and the places on my body I pick at. I haven’t chosen this specific places but wish i could because at least then i would chose the least seen parts of me. I am obese and my skin quite literally tears and therefore gives me plenty of opportunities to find sites to pick at. I realised a few years ago that my mum is also a skin picker but in a slightly different way – she picks at the skin around her nails until they bleed but more recently has begun to pick at her scalp. We spoke about it and we never realised that there was a link between that and me spending much of my teenage years ripping craters out of my legs. I am absolutely covered in scars and add to them daily. I am incredibly embarrassed by this disorder and have never told my GP or even my best friend. My husband is aware but having a conversation about it is too difficult for me. I suffer with recurrent cold sores and have done since the age of 15. At this time, because i picked, it became horribly infected and i was left with a 2″ patch of cold sore infected skin on the right side of my chin. This whole area now has cold sores permanently appearing all over it which gives me even more pick sites which take ages to heal. I absolutely despise myself partly for being obese and partly for being covered in scars which i alone am responsible for. I am a mental health clinician specialising in acute mental illness, people in crisis, CBT and child protection. Why can i not sort myself out? I feel incredibly lonely and have periods of depression. I have been on anti-depressants for 9 years and counting and I cannot see an end to this. Help!

  • I’ve suffered with this condition since I can remember, I am now 31. All of it that I have read it true so far….”making already good skin even more perfect by disfiguring it” what a joke…. but that is what we are trying to do! As a kid is started with pulling my hairs out and picking but it never became a real social problem until about 8 years ago…..My fingers and arms are full of scars …. and yet I continue to do it ….not just an hour or 2 ….its more like a day or two. I have a history of drug addiction and yes it is true Amphetamines and meth make it worse……I was so bad on amphetamines , I had no skin on my hands and arms ….even my chin…… I avoided society for weeks and ended up in hospital twice…. I also suffer from severe OCD and maybe depression too …..but I have for years,,,, the drug abuse didn’t help either. I feel very alone and am always trying many methods in hiding my problem, makeup, plasters, clothes, accessories like bangles, armbands and rings…. My folks are aware of my condition and as soon as they see a mark on me…they immediately think I am back on drugs…. but sometimes its not the case…..this leaves me living with permanently anxiety of hiding hiding hiding……………. what I have also started struggling with are my joints in my hands… I do for so long at a time that it affects my joints so badly…. I have got to a point where I cant bend my left thumb…. it locks ….. im permanently on painkillers and I know what the only cure is and that is to stop…… I cant stop

  • Kim CR

    Wow, I have been a ‘picker’ since I was in my very early teens and on the occasions that I visit home the pleading of my parents of “stop picking” which I was so used to all those years ago can still be heard from time to time when I stand in front of the mirror in front of them. I once went to a psychiatrist who told me that I had underlying issues, he was patronising, I didn’t want to hear what he had to say, I was 14 and in denial but also in pain-mentally and emotionally, I attended 1 session. I
    can see why the AA steps would have some useful tools, sober myself for 5 years using the AA program, it is the thing in life that I am most proud of, however it is not a program which seems easily transferable to my picking, in honesty I am not sure why. My picking can be worse some times than at others and I can have relatively clear complexion from time to time, however it seems short lived and although I get most anxious about my face it can effect any part of my body. I hear you all, deep within my soul. The shame, the anxiety, the fear of judgement, the self loathing, then the justification that ‘…there as far worse things I could be doing’, especially after successfully getting recovery with other issues- but then that’s all part of the denial isn’t it. So, something that I have learned from AA is that when an issue becomes so painful that you cant live with it or without it, I start to seriously look for the answers. I am here because I started to search for information, I wanted to know that I was not alone and indeed it seems I am far from alone. I suppose that I am looking for practical tips, ways that I can help myself (no insinuation that Derma is self inflicted, but it is only me that can change what I do, with the right support).
    Thank You. We are not alone in this.

  • Andy

    Hi, my name is Andy. I am 47 years old and I have been picking my fingers since I was around 5 years old. It has been with me all that time. It started with biting my nails, I used to bite them so badly that the ends of my fingers grew over the nails. At around 26 years old I moved from my nails to the skin around my nails. It started with the skin around my nails and as I chased the edges that I had created, it would migrate to all of my fingers. I would pick and bite my fingers when ever I was at anxious moments but also other random times. It got to the stage that I was picking my fingers at pretty much every waking hour that I was not using my hands for any other reason. The truth is I was picking my fingers so much and so badly that they would hurt and bleed all the time and would be difficult to bend them. When ever people would see them they would say “ohh what’s happened to you hands, or what’s wrong with your fingers which was very embarrassing but I did just get used to that. The reason for my comments is two fold really and the first is, that I have passed it on to my 16 year old son, I am not sure that it is just because he has watched me do it for so long or if he has another reason. I will say that he is not an anxious boy. but either way it is another really bad symptom of this issue, and the second and final reason for my comments are that after 47 years of this awful problem, I have finally almost stopped completely. It has been a very difficult process and during this time I have had plenty of relapses, But I am almost there. I have managed it because of some very basic reasons. 1, I have tried to set a good example to my son and 2, I have battled the mind games we play with ourselves when we are trying to stop. The many mind games we play during this process can be simplified to just one mantra, and it is this: NO MATTER WHAT YOU TELL YOURSELF TO TRY AND JUSTIFY PICKING, “JUST STOP”. I would tell myself that I would just get rid if this last edge of skin and that would be it, but of course that would just make another edge and another edge !!!!! When you are ready to try and stop, “JUST STOP” NO MIND GAMES OR EXCUSES. “JUST STOP” I hope that this is of some help, maybe not, but at the moment after 47 years my hands are great and for the first time I can every remember my hands look normal.

    • dare to live

      Well done Andy!!!

  • molley

    Mental disorder is some thing I that wish never to experience again in my life till I die and if if I see any one of the same problem I will do all that I can to help, because it some thing you do not wish for.i was down for for 2 years that was what I was told by my love ones who never stop looking for a cure to my problem. They said they came across a great doctor name DR Alaska who told them to relax that all was going to be okay with me after the test and treatment it only took me 7 days for me me normal again. That is why I have took some time out today to say thank you. i know you will not hear me but the world is hearing me and I know they will help me thank you.if you need his help here is his contacts [email protected] or call him +2348169591194

  • Savannah

    I am diagnosed with bipolar type 1. Because of the constant depressive states, I started picking at my skin to relieve stress and bring my mind into the present. I was also diagnosed with folluclitis. I have picked so much that I wear long sleeves at all times. It wasn’t until just this year (I’m 25) that I sought true help. First I addressed my bipolar. I tried medication after medication to stabilize my moods. Once I was balanced, I noticed the urge to pick was almost gone. I then started seeing a CBT therapist. My need to pick is completely gone. Unfortunately I’m left with horrifying scars. I’m getting married soon and refuse to set a date because of my scars. They are all over my body. I am seeing a new dermatologist on Wednesday and am ready to be completely honest. I got the psychiatric help I needed, so I am able to battle the scars without worrying about creating new ones.

    It IS possible to stop. I did it. I would pick for hours. I could have picked for 3 days straight if I let myself. It’s almost weird not having that urge anymore.

    I hope those who read this get some hope. It can be treated.

  • Joni

    I am 35 years old and have picked at my skin for as long as I can remember. I had no clue it had a name! I quit wearing shorts about 16 years ago due to the questions and comments from people and haven’t been in a bathing suit for over 8 years. I am happy that I am not the freak I thought I was, but now I am not sure what to do with my new information. Thank you for having this information available. It is so nice to know I am not alone!

  • Debbie

    I just started reading about this disorder and although I have not been diagnosed I believe I have it. I am 51 years old and I can’t remember a time that I did not have scabs all over my arms. At least as far back as high school. I pick at all of them every day. I am constantly trying to find something to make them better. My mother use to yell at me all the time for picking. My daughter gets so angry and disgusted when she sees me doing it or she sees blood all over my arms. I have been depressed all of my life. A year and a half ago my life completely changed for the worse. I lost my job after 14 1/2 years. I hated the job but for the most part it paid the bills. A month later my mother passed away and then 4 months after that my dad passed away. My depression deepened. I finally got the courage about 6 weeks ago to go to counseling. I am also going to see a physchiatrist next week. This is something I am definitely going to discuss with both the counselor & the physchiatrist.

    • Bingerpicker

      That’s a triple whammy. I’d be so depressed I don;t think I’d have the energy to pick, you’re doing better than I would be.

  • Tish

    What can I do for my 6 1/2 yr old daughter who has been doing this for over a year now? It started with bug bites, and that is still what makes it “flare up” the most, but I am almost certain that it will evolve into what I’m reading about here. I want to be able to help her now instead of waiting!

    • Bingerpicker

      My friend’s daughter is 3 and she picks and makes herself bleed. My friend yells at her but then I yell at my friend in her daughter’s defense bc I know she doesn’t understand and can’t help it. I notice she does it as she’s tryign to fall asleep, a soothing pick for her I suppose.

  • Heather

    Obviously, I too, obsessively pick. My shoulders, arms, head, ears and sometimes back and neck are pock marked and scabbed on a regular basis. There have been time periods where I also pick my nose till it bleeds. When it gets bad, I do cover with makeup and clothes. I never knew this was a real condition until now, just something that I’ve done my entire life. Though I’ve been through bouts of depression, anxiety, and was even diagnosed bipolar, and been on too many medications to count, my skin has never been able to completely clear. I never knew this may be associated with my mental state, just something I constantly had the urge to do.

    My question to you all is this – not only to I get the urge to pick at my self, I also get the urge to pick at others. I pick at the dry skin on my husband’s face and in his ears, and get the teensy weensy blackheads on his back (he never really breaks out like I sometimes do). My father, on the other hand, has had some severity of acne his entire life and even into his 50’s gets large pimples and black heads on his back and shoulders and cheeks. I absolutely cannot resist the urge to pick or pop something when I see it on either of them. It’s compulsive and I’m sure many would find it gross. I’ve heard them say, many times, “You’re picking at nothing!” when I just know there is something there – something I can get out of it. Sometimes I will see completely strangers with a blackhead or pimple and it takes everything in me to not want to “help” them out. Does anyone else pick at other people (or try to, or get the urge too) in addition to picking at themselves?

    • Heather

      Additionally, it sometimes hurts them, but I justify it by laughing it off or saying they are being a baby. I say “toughen up” or “man up”, just so they will let me continue.

      • Bingerpicker

        Hhahahahaha We are terrible. I say that to my boyfriend too! We are seriously sick.

    • Bingerpicker

      I pick my boyfriends scabs, pimples and oh gueeze if there is a pimple with a hair int he middle I am running for my tweezers in delight so I can pull that little hair out and drain the pimple without touching it, that’s the “ultimate thrill” and who said this isn’t a sickness, it’s an obsession, even beyond that.

  • Katie

    I didn’t even know skin picking was an actual disorder. I have always picked at my skin, cuticles, acne, lips, and feet. My thumbs and lips receive the worst of it, I will wake up in the middle of the night from destroying my thumbs or upper lip. It’s comforting to know others do it, too. I have always thought of it as a habit of mine, brought on by anxiety or boredom. The goal for me is never self mutilation or pain to numb the pain. If fact if I am consciously picking, it’s usually to “reduce” acne or unwanted skin. This always backfires without fail and I regret it. My initial intention usually is improvement. It comforts me and makes me feel better in the moment but it usually hurts or looks hideous when I’ve finished destroying my hands, face, or lips. I do frequently worry about infection and insist on wearing gloves whenever interacting with patients (I’m a new nurse). Thanks for the post, I learned a great deal about my “bad habit”.

    • dare to live

      Hi! I know it’s a late reply but please email me if you get this.. [email protected]

  • alison

    I’ve had this disorder since maybe 3rd grade, I’m 34 now. I tell myself everyday that its just a bad habit and I can just stop. What’s wrong with me that I can’t stop. I’ve had an anxiety disorder for so long and have learned how to manage it for the most part or at least look like I’m managing it. My friends all know I pick and I hide it as best as I can. At work, I choose to work a shift apart from other because my anxiety is an issues and picking is one of the ways I cope. I’ve tried hypnosis and it helps for a few days to give the hope to stop. I even work as a mental health professional and am so aware of what I should be doing and how I should try to help myself. I feel guilty helping people sometimes because here I am a person who has scabs on my head arms legs face and I’m trying to help them. I love what i do but i wonder if that feeds my guilt and shame.

    I’m trying acupuncture for it tomorrow and looking forward to that.

    I just got my hair done today and my head stings from the hair dye getting into my scabs. I worry the hair dresser thinks I have bed bugs or some sick illness.

    I feel better knowing you all have this too and that I’m not alone. It makes me sad too tho knowing that others are feelingthis bad about themselves too. To pick and pick until we scar and bleed.

    • Bingerpicker

      Speical Ed teacher in the making over here. I don’t know how I’m going to instruct my special needs students while I understand how they feel when they do things in which they aren’t in control of.

    • dare to live

      Hi Alison I know it’s a late reply but please email me if you get this.. [email protected]

  • Lyssa

    I’m seventeen years old and I’ve probably been picking since I was like 5. I’m not sure. But I pick my scalp real bad and it sucks because sometimes I catch myself doing it at school or in front of people and I feel so embarrassed… It makes my arm tired too cause I’ll lay in bed all night picking scabs on my scalp. I’ve been wanting to bleach my hair but how can I do that when it already hurts washing my hair with shampoo! Ugh I just wish I would stop. Glad I’m not alone though… I’ve felt really embarrassed about it. I’m also thinking I have BDD but I don’t know how to talk to a therapist about it. I feel like they won’t take me seriously but I know that it’s serious.

    • ariel lovely

      I also do it all night which is what drove me to look up if other people did it to because during the day I do not really notice. But at night my arms will ache and be in so much pain but I feel the need to run my fingers on my scalp and pick any little bump I can find. Sometimes there is even blood under my nails because of it. I am going to try my best to wear pony tails and bobby pins to block it now that I realize this needs to stop but I am just glad it could be worse.

  • Fatima

    I have had this problem for over 15 years now. I’m sick and tired of my husband constantly hitting my hand and telling me to leave my fingers alone, like if I was a child doing something wrong. He even does this in front of other people, making me feel so ashamed. I feel he does not understand, no matter how much I try to explain this disorder. I try to do it in secret and in my trance sometimes think I am doing it in secret when in fact, I am not. It makes me very anxious to not be able pick because my husband could be watching. And then I feel anxious because my fingers look so ugly after picking for a while. I feel embarrassed to shake somebody’s hand because they will feel my hands are not smooth due to this. I feel so depressed that I cannot control myself and feel so alone with this.

    • Amanda Zappola

      Thank you Fatima. My husband does the same thing. My family has done it my whole life. Like I will just stop one day and never start again. I pick my lips. Sometimes until they bleed. I create ugly sores on my mouth. I dont like that do it but I feel powerless. This weekend I am doing a time line therapy weekend retreat thing. I am hopeful that this will help. Ive done this further back than I can remember. I lose time doing it quite often. It feels like I just have to get this last flap of skin off and my world will be alright.

      • Hayleigh

        How did your therapy go?

      • Bingerpicker

        Exactly It’s always that one last pick! Gets me everytime.

        • Kelchi Eve

          Me to…

          • theconsultingdramaqueen

            Me three. It literally keeps me up at night. Any luck stopping it, anyone?

          • Kara Parsell

            I haven’t stopped, but I have gotten better by wearing tight long sleeves so you can’t pull the sleeves up. I hope it helps.

          • bj

            I’ve actually had some luck with this, quite odd really I’m not sure why it works and it doesn’t eliminate the problem completely but it does make the anxiety of needing to cut my lips better.. Cacao, as pure as I can find it! Found out by accident (ate some of my sister’s baking ingredients and found it really reduced my general anxiety) but it really does help! And i’m not talking about just any old chocolate as pure, dark and sugarless as I can get my hands on usually gets me the best results, regular milk chocolate o chocolate flavour does not help at all. Someone told me it might have something to do with the magnesium? I have yet to try those supplements though.

            Oh and sometimes blistex helps too.. If the anxiety is moderate but i’m starting to draw blood to often I apply some blistex and it hurts like bloody murder, which oddly makes it better! Anyway hope this helps someone.. Any other tips greatly appreciated

          • Will

            Try Jarrow Formulas NAC (N-acetyl cysteine). It’s a cheap, safe supplement. Completely cured 20+ years of biting and picking in about a week.

          • Amy Jones

            I took NAC for about 1 1/5 months and felt it did help reduce my urges a bit, but it also gave me horrible diarrhea. like i couldn’t leave my bathroom. really wish it didn’t have such a negative side effect for me, but glad it helps you. do you have any side effects when taking the NAC?

      • Fatima Leza de Lino

        Yes, I have to have that last flap. Even if it means staying up late at night.

      • dfwairbreather


        I am sorry your husband is not more supportive. In my experience, it just makes my picking worse when people try and make me stop. It’s not right for him to do that in front if other people. Have you tried telling him that it makes you feel bad when he does that? I hate this disorder and wish there was an easier solution. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to accept that this may be something I struggle with for most of my life. Strangely as I accept myself for “who I am”, I pick less 🙂

    • Nora Marple

      You should not feel ashamed of being yourself. Your husband should not be pushing or ordering you around, he’s supposed to be your partner not master. You need someone who will accept you and help you come to the conclusion of telling yourself to stop, not some one controlling you to. You are strong and shouldn’t be scared from the person you love.

    • Jenny Larson

      My mother, sister, and grandmother all treat me like this for my Trichotillomania and Dermatillomania. It feels condescending and embarrassing. They act as if i’m doing it to hurt them and it enrages me and makes me feel ashamed all at once.

    • Samantha Lyn Blais

      My partner does the same, but he says it is because he feels hurt when I am hurting myself. Its a disorder though, I have locked myself in the bathroom just to pick… I feel ashamed when I do so I usually put on makeup soon after. Maybe get your partner a book on it. My partner did some reading and tries harder not to make me feel worse, because it results in me picking more.

      • Kelchi Eve

        My whole family does exactly the same.
        Except my adult daughter studying psychology. She actually found this site for me and think its linked to me Panic Disorder and PTSD. I try so hard not to pick. But i do until infection sets in.
        It’s rare someone will believe this to be a real mental illness trait 🙁

      • Fatima Leza de Lino

        I wish my husband were open to being more informed on this. I have sent him links and websites with information on Dermatillomania. But either he doesn’t read them or he is too stubborn to understand this is a disorder. I have tried comparing it to blinking. You can’t just tell me to stop blinking. But after all these years, he hasn’t changed.

    • Bee-H

      I get into a trance as well. Just staring at spots when I can’t pick them out, sometimes even scratching up my arm with anxiousness. I’ve been told not to pick, and to break from the habit, and I honestly wish I could. It makes me feel so helpless.

    • Drew Burkett

      Try asking him to be more gentle about it. He definitely should try to help you stop, even if only or a few moments, but scolding you is not the way to do it. Try asking him to instead tell you that you’re doing it (even if you already know) just as a code to say stop it. He could grab your hand and hold it that way the behavior can be replaced by some other rewarding thing. My big brother lets me hold his hands when I feel like I need to pick and I find it helpful, so hoepuflly other people will too! Good luck with feeling better!

      • dare to live

        Wow Drew you have an amazing brother, so happy to hear the story!

      • Fatima Leza de Lino

        OH yes he does. But it still makes me upset. We could be in a family gathering and just blurts out “Fingers”…. obviously people hear him and look at me and feel very embarrassed. He also tries holding my hand but I get upset also because I feel he is trying to force me to stop when I really have a strong urge to continue.

  • charlotte

    ive been suffering with dermatillomania all my life. Only recently did i discover it was a real disorder. My mum and sister have it mildly but somehow i ended up with it badly. It took over my life. i used to swim a lot but stopped because i was too embarrassed. i only wear tops that cover all my marks. i pick everywhere that i can, but mainly my face, shoulders and back. i spend hours just picking. i always find myself at school planning my next session. ive tried so hard to stop but the most i can go is a few hours. im having cbt at the minute which im hoping will help. i also have fake nails to make it harder to pick and i often wear gloves to help stop. its a long and hard road to recovery but im just fed up of this disorder, the scars and the embarrassment. i would really appreciate someone who understands what im going through to email me at [email protected] because i dont know anyone else who has this and i would love someone to talk to about it because i just feel so alone and could do with some support. Together we can fight this, stay strong guys, the road has to change somewhere 🙂

  • Hi, just happened on to this site and found this Myths page. It is excellent and dealt well with the myths that self-proclaimed totally-unqualified non-sufferers try to propagate.

    I am an Australian psychiatrist and occasionally run into to people with these disorders (trichotillomania mainly), but who have been referred because of depression.

    Of interest, animals also suffer from these disorders. I was chatting to my vet and he asked me about Prozac (in was back in the 1990’s). He showed me a parrot that had pulled most of its feathers out. The bird did well on Prozac.

    • dare to live

      Wow! Interesting fact.

  • Sue

    I’ve been picking my face and fingers for over 30 years. I have been diagnosed as bipolar and I have
    PTSD and a generalised anxiety disorder. My face has not been clear in years, I use concealer to cover the
    marks and sores and have tried various healing treatments such as Tee tree oil, acne meds and if it gets
    too bad oral antibiotics. I feel sad, ashamed and embarrassed and my self esteem is at rock bottom. I
    avoid social situations and spend hours in front of the mirror. After a picking session I feel ashamed and guilty and then spend more time trying to cover up the evidence. It’s very reassuring to know that others
    suffer this awful condition. Stay strong, remain positive and remember that you are not alone.

    • Bingerpicker

      Awww, I feel your pain. I have periods where I’m finger pick free but then like clockwork I get PMS induced anxiety. When I finger pick immensely I know it’s just about “That time” for my friend to arrive. I pick and pick the week before and during my cycle that I’ve considered tranquilizers to stop…it gets that bad.

      • Lessa Lee

        I am very similar to you. I go through cycles of picking improvement and relapse. I used to think it was because my skin flared up before and during my period, but the older I get (soon 32) the more I’m noticing a huge increase and range of mood, appetite and physical PMS symptoms including anxiety. My latest guess is too much progesterone during the luteal phase? About once every two years I try a low dose birth control but they make me feel worse. Have you tried hormones…? I have considered induced coma but tranquilizers would be more fun.

  • Madi Fagliano

    I am so glad I found this website! I am 19 years old and I have been picking since I was 2. I constantly pick when I am alone or with my family. I have scabs all over my back, head, arms, and legs. Winter is my favorite season because I have a good excuse to cover everything up. I recently found out that there actually is a name for this condition. I am thankful that there are other people out there who know how I feel every single second of the day. My own parents cannot understand how picking makes me feel and why I cannot stop. I have just started to go to a psychologist who continues to help me once a week. These myths and truths are a breath of fresh air—finally! I am going to ask my lovely parents to read this website! for those who found this website recently too: Hang in there, and know that you are not alone! God loves you, and he will help you–and me–get through this! 🙂 If anyone wants to talk with me, email me at [email protected]

    • Ashley A (Amine’s Angel)

      I am 19 to and also just found out there is a name for this I thought I was just weird…unlike alot of the post I read however I usually don’t feel ashamed about it I pick compulsively and the urge is too great to stop. I even do it during my college classes. I stay up at night even when I’m tired because I have to pick, I just can’t stop. Eventually when I finally feal satisfied about my picking or I get to exaughsted to continue then I fall asleep. I even search for things to pick and pick at nothing too.

  • Deborah

    I have skin picking issues feel very ashamed and depressed and also suffer from low self-esteem prior and because of my face being picked. Please e-mail me at [email protected]

  • Kaitlyn

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been picking at my skin for quite a long time now. Because of it, i’ve started lying to people, avoiding people and have had it interfere with my daily life. Anyone who knows about my problem tells me to stop, making me feel terrible about myself. I hate doing what i do to myself, and i have cried so many times over it. It’s good to know that there are others out there.

  • Sara

    I used to bite my nails when I was a child. I stopped, but then my newly grown nails allowed me to pick at my skin. I’m not sure which is worse. Until this week, I really believed I was the only person with this problem! I used to tear the skin off the soles of my feet, which I believe was a reaction to being molested by a neighbour when I was very small. It made walking terribly painful. I still can’t believe no one noticed. It was tremendously painful. I have a boyfriend now who smacks my hands every time he sees me picking at my fingers, but if I could stop on my own, I would. I hate doing it. I’m ashamed of how my hands look. I have to say that it’s reassuring that I’m not alone. Thanks for your post.

    • Bingerpicker

      I was also sexually abused, I am saddened that this is part of life long affects of the trauma.

    • Elaine Redmore

      I can’t believe what I just read. I was abused by my neighbour as a child and as a teenager I self harmed and took drugs. I had counselling and about 20 years ago thought I was cured. Since then I have always indulged in this type of behaviour. I bite the skin around my fingers until it bleeds and am also embarrassed to shake someone’s hand. I used to pick the skin from my feet until it was painful to walk and I pick at imaginary marks or pimples on my face until I bleed. I cover my scars with makeup that I will not leave the house without. I have never acknowledged that it was a problem and put it down to ‘bad skin’ or my fidgety nature. I also suffer with Pica, I eat sponges, wooden pegs, post it notes, sticky labels, lolly pop sticks and pen lids. I had heard of Pica and laughed about it. I was telling a friend the other day and googled the condition and saw the link to excoriation. I had never heard of it. Reading this and hearing other stories has thrown me. I am pleased to find I’m not alone but also traumatised that this behaviour exists in me. You story sounded so much like mine I had to reach out. How do you feel? Are you seeking help? Xx

      • Katarina

        Every day I say to myself that this is the last day I’m going to pull the skin off my foot. I clean it thoroughly dry it, and put a clean dressing on it. I take vitamin C to aid in healing, however my very last day proclamation never lasts.

        I’m to see a new primary care physician in November and I will address the issue with her at that point. I’ve tried counseling for several different issues throughout my life and I haven’t found it very helpful just fight trying many different therapist. I’ve been taking medications for over 20 years. I think the last answers just going to be trying to find somebody that is skilled in CBT and addictions. And also a food addict and compulsive overeater. I’ve been in Overeaters Anonymous (actually in and out) over the last 20 years and I have had weight fluctuations of over 100 lb. I can’t live like this anymore. I just want to be happy in my own skin. I of course want to be healthy as well. It’s so much work and it’s so hard.

    • Katarina

      I can completely relate to the plantar surface of the feet being a target. I first started it at age 10 when my feet were often sodden due to working on a farm and caring for horses. When you’re young, you haven’t had time to develop callouses and I got when someone told me (many years later) was “trench foot”. I’d pull thick layers and virtually disable myself when I was a kid. I knew it was “wrong” and I was afraid to ask for help because I knew my Mom would get upset with me. Now, I’m 43 and over a year ago, I started up again with my feet. Of course, I’ve been a picker with everything else in the decade between, but nothing so serious. I was going at both feet and I’ve been able to leave my left foot alone, but I keep going at my right foot. I’ve had to wear shower sandals because I’m so afraid of getting an infection. Just over the last month, I was nearly healed with my right foot, but the skin had yet to toughen up. Now, I’m in agony as I write this because I’ve torn up my entire some of my right foot…again! I hate myself for so many compulsive behaviors that I have and are out of control. I’ve been on SSRIs and SNRIs in combination for many years. I just haven’t found the reprieve, one day at a time.

      Thanks for sharing all of your experiences here. It’s good to know you’re not alone, although I wish we didn’t have something like this at all!

  • Thank you I’ve had this since I was eight years old I wish the doctors would’ve done something about this only thing I’ve ever heard was you just need to stop no one knows how hard it is just to sit there an look at a bump scars or anything of the sort its like there calling me if I ignore it it begins to itch so I start scratching once I draw blood I feel the need to pull at the skin an I feel bad at the time I’m doing it I’m shameful of my own skin I dont wear dresses short an some times I wont wear short sleeves is there anything to help clear up the skin cause I really would like to try I have five children an I catch them doing this everyone but my one year old has scars please help me.

    • Bingerpicker

      I use coconut oil. It’s not only cleared up my skin, but as reduced my scars significantly as well.

      • dare to live

        Do you use it directly on skin like you would a moisturiser or face oil? How soon did you start to notice a difference? thanks xx

  • neicy

    I believe that skin picking is something you either do or don’t do, there’s no in between. If you’re someone who doesn’t do it and finds it disgusting, then that’s just how you are and it’s not something that you’ll develop in life. It’s a genetic thing. I have always picked my skin since I was little for no reason that I can remember. It wasn’t because of some trauma in my life, or that I was unloved, I was from a normal, loving family. It is purely and simply because I enjoyed it. I bite my nails, pick and peel the skin around my nails, and I love picking and eating scabs. I do not do it to the extent that I have scars all over my body, but I do have a couple of scars from continual picking that I do regret doing. I believe that a ‘picker’ does it simply because they enjoy it and love the feeling of picking. If you feel a jagged insy bit of skin, it has to be removed, if you feel the rough formation of a newly dried, ready to pick scab, you just have to pick it! I used to squeeze and pick my husband’s spots when we first met, and 25 years on, although he doesn’t have spots now, he’d still let me pick a scab of his if he had one, although I wouldn’t eat someone else’s scab! He’s lived with me doing this and has never once said it’s disgusting. My teenage daughter is exactly like me! If I show her a spot or blackhead, her eyes widen with sheer delight as the prospect of picking it for me! Also I have many friends who have the same habit, there are tons of people out there who bite their nails and these people will also enjoy picking skin and scabs. If you try really hard to stop you can, it’s almost like starting a diet, you’re motivated to begin with and then gradually you lapse and start the picking again. It takes motivation and reminding yourself to not pick, cause it’s so easy to forget. I can be making the effort to grow my nails and then without realising I’ve bitten my longest and best nail off!
    What annoys me when researching this habit, is the way you can be labelled as having some sort of disorder or mental illness, which I think is totally untrue. Yes I guess some people’s picking can get out of control and may be due to some traumatic episode, but generally I think a picker just gets a simple pleasure from picking hard, spiky skin or dry scabs. It is not the case that a picker would get enjoyment form making themselves bleed and do not generally pick soft, delicate skin, even that would turn my stomach. It’s a certain type of skin or scab that requires picking.

    • Shannon

      I disagree. I have apparently been picking since I was young. My parents have told me non stop to not pick and it only makes me pick more as if I want to rebel. But I only really pick my scabs and lips and for my lips… I think it is because I enjoy making them bleed and tasting the blood. It’s disgusting but I like especially to pick them until they bleed but when I look in the mirror you couldn’t really tell.

  • Dany

    The thing that annoys me most is when people call me masochist because I pick at my skin. No, I’m not doing it because I enjoy experiencing pain. In fact, I stop picking the moment it becomes painful.

    • Beth H

      One of my doctors said that skin or scab picking is also a part of GROOMING in or minds. Monkeys do it BUT not with bad habits like people.

    • Ashley A (Amine’s Angel)

      Unfortunately I can’t stop even when it’s painful I just have to get the scab off the urge is so strong and the harder it’s stuck on the harder I dig in to get it.

    • ‘Chris Beres

      I wish I could stop when it gets painful. I can zone into picking for hours (I have a severe case) and after picking for an hour I will be very sore and have to keep wiping away blood, but I can’t stop until Icant find anything to pick. I can zone into picking for 3 straight hours! When I was going through a rough time last summer and picked my legs for about 5 straight hours daily, I had to stop shaving and keep my legs covered for 2 months before it got better and I have scars now, but when I was doing that I’d be bleeding and still be digging and digging as I’m in pain.

  • lexi carranza

    I’ve struggled with picking my skin all my life. But in high school it took over my face. I’m pretty confident that I would have clear beautiful skin if I didn’t pick and scratch every little tiny imperfection. I have struggled with depression and self harm in the past, and my self esteem is so low. I’ve isolated myself to almost never going out in public and avoiding it when I can. My family will go see a movie together and I really want to go but I stay home by myself because I’m too ashamed and ugly. I can’t go anywhere without caking on makeup and my skin still looks awful. I’m so awkward and I can’t look people in the eye or have a conversation with someone because all i can think about is how much I want to hide. The most I can go without picking my face is a day and a half. By then the urge and the tension to pick is too much and overwhelming. It’s taken over my life. I’m 19 and I have no friends and no social life at all because of this disorder. I’ve been to a therapist for depression and self harm but it was awful every time. I really don’t want to go back on anti depressants because it wasn’t solving the problem, just suppressing it as long I kept paying money. It breaks my heart seeing my bare face, feeling so ashamed every day of my life, not being able to control this. If someone has any advice or wants to talk… Please! [email protected]

  • LMB

    I wonder if you can develop later in life, cause I think I have this, but it only developed in the past year. I recently started picking at the skin under my fingernails because it always feels like I have stuff underneath them. I do it without noticing and I end up peeling all the skin off my fingers from under my nails, which makes them painful, and starts to create calluses, so then I feel even MORE like something is stuck underneath them. This also makes the skin around my fingers more dry and flaky, which makes me pick at them even more.

  • krista

    I have just read all these comments and I am in tears. I’ve lived such a troubled life since I was a small child being terribly abused, molested, severe drug abuse, abandonment you get the picture. I’ve lost my mind and have cut myself before so badly I had layers of stitches. I’ve gone through periods of my life where I have torn the bottoms of my feet off to hair pulling to head banging.. Lately I have again started picking my body and scalp. Its getting really bad. I feel an itch or have a cut and instantly I’m pulling it apart over and over any chance I get. My fiance is trying to understand why Im doing such a thing without realizing it half the time. All these years I thought they were just disgusting habits and I was a disgusting person praying to god to forgive me. I look forward to seeking the phyciatric therapy I will seek out immediately praying that I can make it though tonight without feeling that horrible guilt and shame again. I pray for all of you and others who suffer for so long. I am almost thirty now and I want to taste the freedom of all these disturbing cycles for ever after this amen.

    • Bingerpicker

      You and I have lived and dealt with nearly all the same trauma. I feel your pain, the self-induced pain and the non-intentional induced pain. I’m 32, and my boyfriend hasn’t an inkling as to why I do this. I begin to explain yet, it just doesn’t justify it for him. It’s extremely frustrating.

    • Kelchi Eve

      I totally understand. I had a similar childhood.
      At 17 i cut all the skin off my heals.
      I’ve now started this again. Just picking it off now…hope it doesn’t escalate.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m 17 and have been picking my scalp since 5th grade my friends are just noticing, my family has known for a while they all think its disgusting and are constantly hitting my hand and telling me to just stop I have several spots all over my head that are actively bleeding and its becoming more of a challenge to conceal them and people are noticing my bloody fingernails and flakes of skin on the desk. It’s interfering with my social and academic life because i should be doing homework but my hand are occupied because i cant stop picking i don’t know what to do and im starting to worry that im going to have permanent bald spots

  • Hannah Sullivan

    I recently told my mom about my skin picking habit. Only a small part though. I only told her about the picking of the skin around my nails. Which she brushed off as a habit that I could break with a little will power and putting yucky tasting nail polish on my nails. (which btw, didn’t work!) That hurt me. I have been picking the skin around my nails for 7 years. I think that if it was just a little habit that I would’ve broken it years ago. I told her that I am concerned that I have a disorder, like I told her about Dermatophagia, and she was just like “Well, you can’t believe everything you believe on the Internet.” She won’t acknowledge this problem I have, and it’s so upsetting.
    I also have a bad habit of picking my split ends and plucking my leg hairs.
    I want to stop, but I like doing it! It feels good and I hate it :'(( And now, I have calluses around my fingernails because of this nasty “habit”.

    • dare to live

      That’s very sad, get your mum to read this site!!

  • Samantha

    This has been something that I have struggled with as long as I can remember and it’s hard when no one understands that’s is a real issue. I was bullied a lot in school due to it and now I don’t wear certain clothes to hide my skin. I love this article, I have family members who yell at me when I do it or say that it’s not a big deal and I should just get over it. I’ve only been able to go one full day with out picking so far. If I could stop I would but its second nature and don’t realize half of the time that I’m even doing it. Just glad there are others out there and we can support one another as we truly understand the struggles with this.

  • Fatma

    I am a fellow picker in here. I have been suspecting that there is something wrong with me for a year now. Today was the day the I finally came to realize that yes I am sick and yes I can be treated.
    With this realization came the guilt, the shame, & the fear.
    Where I live the psychological feild is not developed so I dont know if I can be helped.
    I am picking for 6 years. And I hate myself for it, I feel small and helpless.
    I would appreciate it if you replied to this with anything, the thought that I am heard & not alone is beautiful.
    Thank you!

    • dare to live

      Fatma, email me if you want to talk.. You’re not alone!! [email protected] xx

  • bree

    i never knew about this until today when i watched a youtube short film on it.. i’ve always been doing it and didn’t know it was a real issue, i just thought it was a ‘bad habit’ until i took a OCD quiz on it… i want to stop. i don’t want to end up scarred but i’ve been doing this ever since i can remember. no one else thinks it’s a real issue.. i am just a teenager and am sick of doing it to myself but i can’t help it, even though everyone else says i can..

  • bree

    i only heard about this disorder today by a youtube video, i then took a test because it sounded like what i was doing and it turns out that i have the same problem. no one else thinks it’s a problem and they all call it a ‘bad habit’. i dont mind if they call it that but i am sick of picking my skin and my mum calls it ‘disgusting’.. i have been doing it for as long as i can remember and want to stop but i cant help it.. i am only a teenager and already have scars.. i am sick of doing this to myself.

  • Hayleigh

    Has anyone tried hypnotherapy for this? I feel like I want to give it a try but wanted to see if anyone else has?

    • Bingerpicker

      I haven’t tried Hypnotherapy, but then again I’m not a profound believer in hypnotherapy to begin with which might make it harder to acheive any desired results.

    • Kelchi Eve

      I haven’t but I’d like to

    • dare to live

      Hi Hayleigh! I’ve tried 3 different hypnotherapists and none managed to…well.. hypnotise me.. 🙂 I think it takes a lot of research to find a really reliable and well qualified one, as there are so many out there these days. But also, more importantly, it works almost like a psychological placebo, there’s no magic to it. In other words, you have to be very susceptible to this sort of thing and you need to WANT to be hypnothised, or like Bingerpicker said below, you need to be a ‘profound believer’. If money is no object, give it a try, by all means, it won’t harm you.

  • Sannive

    I have had this since I was about 7 years old, today I am 42 and I still have the problem. I have battled against it, lied about it, found different excuses to why I have strange scars and scabs on my arms and legs. I’ve tried to wear gloves, keep my nails short, use different skin creams to keep the skin “soft”, put small plasters on “target areas”. Sometimes I can manage to keep from it for a few weeks, even a month or two and then I am so proud but then I fall back.
    I can relate to what Fatima writes, about husband slapping the hand and he does it because he wants to help me. While I do appreciate being stopped when I am not aware, it doesn’t really help because then I find new ways where he won’t see it. I know that I make him sad as he sees it as me harming myself.
    I hate it, I hate the comments I get. “Wooo that is a lot of mosquito bites right.. ?” or “Dear lord what has happened to your ARMS? How can you wear short sleeves when you look like that?” so on and so forth..
    I am thinking about getting a elastic band around my wrist that I can fiddle with instead but I honestly don’t think it will help. Perhaps meditation or yoga could so something to help me out of it but.. After almost 40 years of this, I am skeptic.

    Though I did think I was alone in this, it is oddly comforting to find there are others cursed with this problem.

    • ‘Chris Beres

      HAHAHAHAHA I get the mosquito bites comments as well!

      I yell at people who try to stop me. I try to teach the people around me because I overheat very easily with temperature regulation issues so I stick to short sleeves until the temperature dips below 40. People can very easily see the results of my picking, but I refuse to be embarrassed over something I cannot help.

      There are fidget toys available btw. I have autistic friends and am diagnosed with Tourette’s, and found out there are fidget / stim toys, jewelry, and necklaces available on websites devoted to autism. If you’re like me and chew your nails all the time, a chewing necklace can potentially be helpful.

    • dare to live

      Sannive, when you stopped for weeks at a time, what triggered you to do it again afterwards?

  • Bingerpicker

    Honestly, I’m exhausted, in every aspect. My story isn’t vastly different from everybody else’s. I’ve battled an Eating Disorder, Severe Self-Mutilation, PTSD all which I attribute mainly due to Childhood sexual abuse. I’ve been diagnosed with Anxiety, OCD, ADHD and this Skin-picking I don’t even feel is remotely “curable”. I’ve tried putting fake nails on, then I pick and gouge even more, I don’t wear nails; I bite my nails until they become bleeding stubs. I’ve tried snapping a band around my wrist, fidget toys, squish balls, play dough, silly putty, chewing gum, changing or “replacing” the habit from skin picking to twirling my hair instead but I always forget or don’t have the object in hand or nearby and as you all know. Once you start it’s “off to the races” I feel as if some evil demonic hands have seized over all control and at times I am talking to myself telling myself to Stop now, It’s getting bad stop, ok, 3 more picks hahahha and there I am full throttle. My boyfriend isn’t supportive AT ALL he does what many of your significant others do. Slapping my hands, making non-supportive comments ect. I know everybody here understands but it hurts that others aren’t educated and feel this is simply a “habit”. I’m supposed to start working as a special Ed teacher and my students will not only see scars from self-mutilating my arms but then I feel like a failure that I’m picking. I’m aware that self-mutilation is different than skin picking, but not everyone is and it’s hurtful. I feel I’ve been through enough in my life already, and this one issue isn’t something I fear I’ll be able to conquer and put behind me. I’ve made peace with this in some aspects but the world is such a judgemental, offal cruel place. Sometimes when I get thinking of it, I say screw it, I already look like hell and then pick even more. Does anyone else feel that way?

    • Elaine Redmore

      I am exactly the same!!! I nip to the bathroom and see a pimple or random hair on my face in the mirror and I’m off. I use tweezers, fingernails and even pins to squeeze or pluck my fave until 20 minutes, half an hour has passed and I am now bleeding and ashamed. Even as I’m doing it I know I shouldn’t but I can’t stop myself. My partner is brill and I’ve told him now what I have read here but he can’t ever really understand. He said I should go to see the doctor but the thought of saying all this out loud is unbearable!!!! Have you had any help with it? X

      • Beth H

        GO GO GO to a Dr.and get help for yourself!! But please include your partner. This person obliviously cares for you.

    • Kelchi Eve

      I feel exactly the same way!

    • Lessa Lee

      I relate strongly to the idea of screw it, if my face is already messed up bad enough why not keep going and clear it ALL out now. I think recovery is extra difficult because there is a sneaky paradox of “it doesn’t matter what your skin looks like” that we must accept in order to get better, but which we can also use to justify the continuation of picking. Because if it doesn’t matter then having a scabby messed up face should be ok too then almost like proving the original premise wrong and therefore proving we’re not crazy in believing clear smooth skin is very very important. I also notice a related major feeling of victory when I do excavate something, because it PROVES that my skin is misbehaving even if I left it alone. “See! Look at all this gunk that was in there!! I’m not crazy after all!” I scream inside. I’ve never told anybody in my whole life before, because it’s too crazy, that I actually keep the biggest of the pearly seeds or other interesting distractions. Once in the lid of a tiny metal box but usually in a hidden or inconspicuous place on the mirror. I always wipe my extraction contents on the mirror and inspect them, but the small stuff and skin, scabs, puss usually get wiped off and cleaned away frequently although nobody I have ever lived with has ever commented on a mirror even entirely smeared. It’s like it’s invisible to everyone else. Can anyone relate to keeping it??????

      • Drew Sidorowicz

        YES! The mirrors in the bathroom are covered and I like to look at them. Oddly enough I feel proud if it is a bigger nastier blob that I was able to squeeze out of my body. I’m sure by now everyone in my house knows it is me who does it; no one ever says anything about it and once in awhile when I actually look at the mirror and its filthy and cover I clean if off because I feel guilty. So I definitely know where you’re coming from.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you so much for creating this website, I just broke down in tears bcz for so long I thought I was alone. This is life changing.

    • dare to live

      Me too..

  • Lola

    I always picked my scalp when I was younger and when I became I teenager I started picking my face too. There’s so much shame associated with this and people don’t understand that you can’t just stop. I found that wearing fake nails help because you can’t pick your skin but I can’t wear them anymore because I play bass.

    • Beth H

      I pick my scalp too until it bleeds then I can’t wait to douse it with alcohol to feel the burning sensation. I always have a backup of a 32 ounce bottle of isopropyl alcohol…

  • Raven

    I have had this problem for ten years now. I am only 21 years old and I am to the point i no longer know how to cope with my skin… i have lost all hope. i do not see the light of day. i isolate myself. i hide from others. i am standoffish and rude to those who come near me because i am ashamed of myself. I am completely alone in the world. I want to die every day. I beg for help from god, the universe anything. i try and find strength within myself but abslutely nothing works for me. Nothing. I have been on and off at least 12 medications and the only one that worked was Viibryd but it made me vomit every single day. i couldnt eat or sleep. the side effects were terrible I kept on it for months though because i was desperate and when i had to change medication it was worse. Ive been hospitalized twice for suicidal attempts. now i just try to smoke a lot of weed to ease my stress levels but it doesnt help with OCD i find it actually makes it worse for me. I am scared. I am deep in the pits of nihilism, depression, isolation and anxiety. this disorder has destroyed my life- my hopes and my dreams. my future, it has destroyed who i could have been. should have been…… it has taken everything from me. i am desperate for help.
    I dont even know how I am alive. Nobody understands how painful this disorder is. Nobody sees all of the pain that comes with it.
    The guilt, shame, depression, isolation, lonliness, desperation, anxiously hiding away in a shell away from the world, the physical pain, the worry! the thoughts, the obsession, the fact that you cant get the thoughts out of your head no matter what you do! SOMEBODY HELP ME PLEASE

    • Bri

      Hi Raven!
      I get what your saying about not many people understanding.

      No matter how hard or difficult it is, be kind to yourself, because you are beautiful and you are worth it.

      I also get what you’re saying about wanting to hide from others too.Most of the people I know don’t even realize that I have problems with picking besides the occasional “you’re wearing a lot of makeup today,” or with anxiety except for the occasional “you seem stressed/ nervous today.” It’s true that it’s hard for others to truly know how we feel, because no one is simply us. I think maybe all of this anxiety/depression and the resulting skin picking that this page is talking about, just masks the greater issue of our identity and worth. Do we consider our bodies/lives valuable and worth preserving, and even more, beautiful? For me, I know my value, and my hope is in Christ; He has shown me that he values me no matter what happens in life or matter what I do. I still have struggles, and even the skin picking thing is something I’m working on. I know though, that He values my life and my body so much, and considers me a beautiful and wonderfully made creation of His own. I may still struggle, and it won’t be easy, but in the end, I know I can be victorious over anything with His strength.

    • DWilliams

      I’m the daughter of someone with OCD. I get some of it.

    • Kelchi Eve

      Pls pls DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE!!!! I hear you and understand everything you’ve said.
      Pls…don’t let it take you down. I KNOW how hard it is to not do so…i bloody well do oh so well.
      But although you may feel there’s no hope…there may be. Maybe not today or even next week…but there is hope.
      Look how many ppl suffer as we do. Look at the comments! You’re not alone, though God knows it feels that way everyday.
      You’re probably right about the self medicating with marajuana. I tried that for ten years too. It actually helped my OCD, but played hell with my panic disorder and PTSD. I’ve also tried several SSRI drugs. None helped. I’m typing this from my Dr’s waiting room actually. Trying another daily med to help.
      Also to get anti biotics for infections.
      For me it seems a choice between 2 evils…self harm (cutting) or picking. The picking won out.
      Pls dont give up! Your post made me cry. I’d love it if you replied…to see if your ok? Xxxx

    • Sara

      Dearest Raven,
      I want you to know you are not alone. No matter how terrible you feel, you are not isolated in your depravity.I also want you to know you were created for so much more than this. I too suffer with many of the things you mentioned…going on 8 years now; currenlty I am 21. But one thing has remained: God loves me and I am not giving up.
      Don’t give up beautiful girl. Look how far you’ve come. Be proud and walk with a head held high, because not many others can walk through what is now part of your story, and it’s only beginning.

    • dare to live

      Raven, I wonder how’re you? Please email me if you’d like to talk [email protected] xoxo

  • Sarah Savage

    It does really help me to read others’ experiences with this disorder. I have had it since I was a child. I had very bad acne, and I would find myself leaning in close to the mirror for huge chunks of time squeezing and picking, and making a huge mess of myself. Over time, my acne cleared, and now at the age of 30, I do still get minor breakouts, but the face targeting has subsided. But I still feel that strong urge to zone out and pick, and my legs have been my major target for about 10 years now. Scars and marks and scabs… I use tweezers to pick at and squeeze at ingrown hairs (which I have caused by my continual picking and tweezing). So I suppose I have a derma/trichotillomania combo. Just have to find that one hair, squeeze out that one twirly ingrown one, never mind the huge swollen mess I’ve made. I do it when I’m bored or when I’m sitting near a bright window where I can really see all the hairs. I tend to have a picking ritual before bed also, but don’t do it everyday. At least once a week. It feels good to put these habits down into words to communicate with sympathetic others.

  • Joe

    No where have I read that skin picking behaviour can start at infancy, which worries me. Some of my earliest memories are of constantly and ritualistically picking scabs and sunburns and scratching at my legs. I must have been no older than 5 when I stole my mothers tweezers so I could tear open a wound covering my entire knee – the scar is still there almost 15 years later. Has anyone else experienced it this early on? Or is there perhaps something else I need to research to explain my younger self’s behaviour?

    • theconsultingdramaqueen

      I know this is a late reply, but you’re not alone here. When I was a kid I’d do the bottoms of my feet so badly, I’d be limping for a day or two afterwards. That I managed to quit, but I still bite and pick at my lips.

  • Kim Graves

    I remember when mine started, i had lived in a tiny town in ohio, mom, dad, 2 older brothers and 2 older sisters, the summer i was going to turn 7, 8/5/69 is my birthdate. well a woman visited with her little girl. after they were gone i was asked if i wanted to visit “aunt patty” and “cousin pam” in nj and i jumped at the chance…it was the beginning of my hell.

    i went, i recall packing brown paper bags of toys for cousin pam and i to play with.

    my oldest sister noli drove us and i recall getting pulled over (she had just gotten her permit.

    after my mom and sister left i was told in not the nicest way that the woman i called mom stole me and i was actually her niece not daughter. long story short she was my bio mom and pam my half sister.

    i was beaten the first week, i developed insomnia after realizing she left us alone to strip at a club around the corner, we lived in passaic nj downtown which both excited me and frightened me. we would run down the 6 flights to find ourselves locked out of this huge 6 story building. we were beaten. within the first week her bf started sexually abusing me also.

    well my first real picking incident atarted in ohio, the winter before i came to meet “bio mom. a kid dropped a metal snoopy shovel on my head creating a deep wound that from picking i still had by the time i moved to nj that summer.

    i remember bio mom constantly yelling at me to stop picking.

    what followed was 9 yrs of sexual abuse and 12 yrs of mental, emotional, physical abuse and sexual misappropriation by bio mom, pulling our pubic hair in a “joking” manner even after “finding out” her bf was molesting me. i was 15 when she claims she found out but i know she knew all along. the night before court she took me to her room and asked me questions, see that day i had a lie detector test and i lied about how long it went on because everything and anything would set my mom off into a tirade of physical abuse. i was afraid of her. well she locked the door and handed me a cigarette, i was 15, she asked why i never told her and assured me she would not be mad, i told her how scared i was of her, she accused me of lying, then she got mad, accused me of “liking it” next thing i know i was on the floor she straddled me and suddenly had a hammer in her hand bashing the floor next to my face, i thought i was going to die that day. court was the next day she told me what to say to the judge. “my “daddy” apologized and i forgive him and want him to come home so mom and he could get married and we can all start counseling” then we all went home. he never touched me again but accused us of f’ing beating me more than ever.

    i during all this time was a picker trying to hide it from my mom, in later yrs i was obsessed with pulling a few random hairs from above my lips or on my chin i do have pustuler psoriasis and arthritis, i take many diff meds, i have had allergic reactions to some after breaking out this last time on a new med i scratched so bad i have lesions up and down my entire left arm, on my entire right leg, my buttocks and back of thighs, even on my breasts, i also randomly get what i call hot spots, i just itch so bad i scratch til bleed leaving bloody sheets, clothing, everything its horrible and i am usually the type to research issues i may have but just the past few months i have had the courage to research skin picking because i have become a recluse esp in warmer weather cause i cant hide it all, i cant take my 6 yr old daughter to the pool, its just upsetting me so. i can no longer work due to diagnosis of PTSD, severe anxiety attacks, pustular psoriasis on my hands and feet, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy a side effect from my meds.

    i am on my 4th psychiatrist and looking for a new counselor i am to a point of giving up on any help and now a new disorder where they will just say oh get over it, like i have faced regarding the ptsd i need help before i end up with a blood infection

  • elena fielder

    I’m glad I read this, I seriously feel like the only one…my in laws always assume I’m on meth and it drives me crazy since I have never used meth. I’m so embarrassed about and it seem every summer my sleeves get longer and shorts are out of the question. I want to be free of this so bad but it’s so hard

  • Jacqueline

    I have had this problem for atleast 10 Years of my life I’m 24 Years old and have done Meth and I’m not gonna lie it did make it 10x worse but even being not on drugs it’s just as bad especially how stressed my life has been here lately. And if I’m not chewing I’m either cleaning or sleeping and I realized when I am thinking I am chewing without even noticing I’m doing it, my husband always tells me to “Stop Chewing your fingers” and I look at him really aggravated (while taking my fingers away from my mouth) and tell him “I’m not” .
    I am 110% self conscious about it even with my husband cause I know it’s super unattractive. I don’t have $ where I can afford therapy or $70 books to help me understand.

  • gloria

    I hate myself so much. I’m 16 today and I was terrified to wear a bikini my neck and hips have been picked so badly I just want to be able to start freah

    • lucy

      I know how you feel I haven’t gone swimming in like forever!!! I said to my sister I wish I was born again to start a fresh with everything…

  • lucy

    I have suffered for as long as I can remember and I feel sooo depressed, down and not very confident anymore… I keep making deals with myself that ill let myself touch my face and then stop or I will only pick this one spot on face… and then the deals instantly is broken because I end up sitting every day for… around 3-8 hours a day!! or even more I’m sooo fed up I’m scared of the doctors because everyone that ive told so far in my family have never heard of it… or tell me… “just stop it” or they give me a gone off look… so I feel like if I go to the doctors they could judge or tell me that I don’t suffer from anything its just a phase…..

    • ‘Chris Beres

      I do the same. Tell myself I’ll just pick for 5 minutes. Suddenly it’s 3 hours later and I’m bleeding in about 40 places.

  • Ashley A (Amine’s Angel)

    I really think I have Dermatillomania and like alot of other people my family and boyfriend slap my hands and yell at me to stop but they don’t understand that I cant. At night I stay up even if I’m super tired because I am picking and can’t just stop. I once had a large bump the size of a golf ball on the back of my head from picking so much and causing an infection. I will pick at a scab and dig in even if it really hurts and I find satisfaction when I finally get it. My mom once put a large bandage and first aid tape over this large scab I got from a horrible burn because I would continuously pick it and not let it heal…When she left I pull it off and continued to pick, the urge was to great and I couldn’t control myself.

    • ‘Chris Beres

      I keep picking until I get a lump on the back of my head too. Right along the hairline. I kept unsuccessfully and painfully picking at it until I finally squeezed it open… And finally squeezed out the INFECTION I caused. I know how you feel, that even if it hurts or you try and find a way to stop, you just. Can’t.

  • Abigail Mae

    I’ve had this for a few years now along with trichotillomania, ADHD, anxiety, depression, sensory processing disorder, and social communication disorder. I can’t find a solution to end all of this, I’ve tried medications and therapy, but nothing’s changed. I only pick on my head, although it’s gotten to be so bad where now I have swollen lymph nodes on my neck and behind my ears. Anyone else dealing with this? (Lymph nodes)

  • ‘Chris Beres

    I have been dealing with this for a very long time. I HATE when people try to slap my hand away from my mouth when I’m biting them, the skin around them, or the cuticles… I literally feel angry and want to hit them back! They don’t understand that I am COMPULSED to do this, and will OBSESS over the hangnail or pimple I’m scratching at until I “accomplish my goal”.

    In private, I do damage like what you see on my arm in this picture. My face and shoulders and legs and chest and back are ALL just as bad. I even have bloody scabs all over my breasts because I am large chested and I get cleavage sweat in the summer, turning into acne on my chest and on my breasts themselves.

    I zone into the picking. I sit on my sink in my bathroom and use a long metal nail file with a point to pick at my face, I use cuticle clippers in my room on my legs and shoulders, and claw at my back with whatever I can find. And I’ll pick for hours. I will totally zone out, pick and pick, keep telling myself “just one more”, telling myself “if I get this one last blackhead, I can go back to my room”. I’ll finally finish, get back in my room, and realize I had been picking for 2 hours. I pick for about 1-5 hours a day EVERY DAY.

    Also, I really, really hate when people say that my picking is the same as self harm. Yes, I caused damage to my skin, caused myself to bleed… But it’s not the same. I have issues with self harm, and I’ve always cut, it releases adrenalin and endorphins. It becomes addictive because of this. But picking is different. Somehow you don’t even feel the pain of the picking at the time, the satisfaction comes from successfully removing a pimple or ingrown hair or whatever ails you, it is a different type of addiction.

  • Bee-H

    I’m glad I found this website. For about a year now, since I got my first whitehead and felt the satisfaction of pushing it out of my skin, I’ve had a problem with picking. Before bed each night, I’ll stand in the mirror and get rid of blackheads on my nose and chin, whiteheads on my arms and shoulders, sometimes even picking at my collarbone to a point where I feel the need to hide it. I have bright white scars on my arms from picking and squeezing, the sides on my nose are bruised, I make myself bleed, and all because I hate to have spots. When I lean back from the mirror, dazed from the pain I’ve caused my face, I can only look down and tell myself it won’t happen tomorrow night—that if I just ignore the spots it’ll all get better. There are times when I’ll come downstairs with a red nose, and I’ll have to explain why to my whole family. Or I’ll sit at the dinner table, just staring at a whitehead on my arm, and I’ll get called out. It’s the worst. I never thought anyone else did this too, until I watched a silly little video about a guy who said he did the same thing, and someone mentioned Dermatillomania in the comments. I’m really just glad I’m not alone with this and hope one day I can go to bed without a sore face and damaged self-esteem.

  • Lee

    I first started picking when I was about 12. It was just a couple of spots, and they generally healed pretty well. It actually didn’t start getting bad until I was in college – I was pre-med and with all of the stress, the picking was I guess the most convenient way to relieve the stress – since I didn’t have enough time to go to the gym or the practice rooms every few hours. I did end up getting into medical school, and I went for a year – I couldn’t figure out how to be successful without also having endless nervous breakdowns. Anyway, while I was in there, my picking got worse. I actually told a few of my friends about my condition. My one friend, when she saw me picking during lecture, would either nudge my arm gently with her elbow, or she would gently put her hand on my arm. She has been the only person to actually understand how to help me. My parents tend to just scold, or else give me suggestions, because they figure it must be a result of dry skin (I do pick more at dry skin, but that’s not the cause of my picking, obviously). Fortunately, the most scarred part of my body are my upper arms (though I do have a few on my lower arms, chest, & just a couple on my thighs; my face is mostly fine) so I can generally just wear anything with at least 1/2-length sleeves (even just one of those heavy cotton t-shirts) and no one will notice. Or I can wear anything with shorter sleeves, as long as I put a sweater on top (which I can always roll up to 1/2 sleeve if it’s warm) But whenever anyone has commented on my spots, I’ve always lied and said something about being too zealous about scratching mosquito bites. And people usually believe me – even the physicians when I was in med school. But recently I had a teacher notice a bandaid on my forearm, ask me about it – and about the couple of scars close to the bandaid. So around him I have to wear full-length sleeves; good thing the weather is getting colder! I don’t usually wear makeup because I have very light skin and the marks are dark – so makeup doesn’t really help. I’ve recently started ballroom dancing, and the thing that worries me the most is that sweaters don’t stay on very well during lessons, and I don’t have a whole ton of shirts/dresses with long enough sleeves; also, once I’m eventually good enough to perform in competitions, I will more likely than not have to wear dresses with straps instead of sleeves, and then there will be no hiding. But since leaving medical school 5 months ago, I’ve been picking a LOT less, and with regular applications of mederma, I’m hoping that my old scars will go away – or at least become less noticeable 🙂

    • dare to live

      Respect for your friend! It’s so important to have somebody who understands…

  • Kara Parsell

    I am 15 years old and I’ve been doing this since I’ve known how to when I was little. Honestly, I just now decided to look up what’s really wrong because I’ve never met someone else in my life that has ever had it or really helped me. I got so bad at picking to the point that my neighbor even wanted my mom to put me on a medication because she thought I had a disease. I’ve been told and asked that I have a disease, ant bites, or even hurt by someone else. I hate it, because I try and explain it to them that I really can’t help it and they just say, “you can just stop, can’t you?” It’s embarrassing when I’m in class and the next thing I know, there’s blood running down my arm because I got in a trance, or wanted to pick it so the world would go round. I still have a lot of problems with urges to pick, and I feel so unattractive, and nobody understands. Now though, I’m happy because now I see that people have gone through the same exact thing, and I don’t feel so alone. And I know what I have, so I’m not so lost about why I do it. What’s been really been helping me get through this is to wear tight long sleeves, so I don’t pick. When I do wear long sleeves, I take advantage of it and put a ton of bandaids all over my arms with neosporin to help them heal. It’s not a cure, but it does really help. I haven’t stopped, but I have improved and I hope to stop.

  • dare to live

    Not sure anyone is still reading those comments, it seems that it’s been a while. I just came across this site for the first time.

    I am weeks away from my 30th birthday. I’ve been picking since I was 15 more or less, which means that dermatillomania has been in control of HALF of my life. Frightening, right? To say the least.

    I tried various forms of therapy, hypnotherapy, yoga, meditation, gloves, squishy toys, you name it….. I have become so socially isolated that I actually moved to a small town where nobody knows me. In my new apartment I have covered all mirrors and made other necessary ‘adjustments’. I will try to fight it one more time.

    They say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. Incidentally, I’m writing this on 9th December – 21 days from my 30th birthday, the new year (the dates coincide), and hopefully a new chapter…..

    If anyone would like to talk and/or track my progress :)) feel free to email me [email protected]

    Big hugs and lots of positive energy to all


  • Tiffany Curtis

    It is so reassuring to have websites like this to support us. I’ve suffered with dermatillomania since I was a little girl. My mom used to sit me down and cover my whole body in band-aids to embarass me so I’d stop picking. She didn’t then, and still now, does not realize that I have a serious problem. My boyfriend also does the “smacking my hands” to make me stop. I wish there was a way to tell them that it only makes it worse when they do things like that. I have tried everything except for behavioral treatment, which I’m strongly looking into now. I am so desperate for change. I try to cover them up with band-aids, but 9/10 times the band-aids give me a rash, which then gives me something new to pick at. I had a tiny scratch from a puppy on my leg about a month ago. Since then I have picked at it to the point where it is now a massive, open sore that takes up almost half of my lower calf. I am in so much physical pain sometimes. The healing process is the worst! Once it starts to itch I tear it completely up again. I work in the tourism industry and often in hot places. I am constantly the only employee wearing pants in the heat and everybody is always questioning me. I’m so tired of giving excuses. My boyfriend is from the Caribbean and we go back every other year to visit his family, however my dermatillomania gets worse every year. This year, I am strongly considering skipping out because my legs and arms are so bad. I hate that I can’t enjoy normal things (like vacations and going out to the club in cute shorts/skirts) because of my disorder. You all are so encouraging. I truly hope each and every one of us can overcome this. I am wishing you all the best!!!!!

  • Willow The Wisp

    I’m not sure if I suffer from dermatillomania – I’ve always bitten my nails ( probably becase of my low self esteem ) but it then escalated to biting the skin surrounding my nails . Now I not only do that , but also chew my gums and lips. I always thought of it as a habit however , I only recently found out about dermatillomania therefore I’m not sure if I suffer from it.

  • Angela

    I’m a 14 year old girl about to turn 15 and I’ve had this problem since I was in the 4th grade. I wish I could just stop picking once and for all but the longest I could go picking was barley one day.I pick at my face,chest,and back until it bleeds. I also pick at my scalp too.i feel so embarrassed whenever I go to school when the scars and cuts on my face are too big to be covered by makeup. When I look at all the damage I’ve done to my body I get depressed and cry. I get very very negative support from my parents especially my mom. She tries to help me but instead she physically hurts me, mocks me in front of other people, embarrasses me in front of other people, and takes away my privlages and things that are important to me when I do it. I try to explain to her that I need support and help because I have a disorder but she continues to say that I am a monster and that I will never look pretty with my scars no matter how good my clothes or hair are. It’s just emotionally draining and I just want to end it so badly but I don’t know how. I’ve been going to a theripist for quite some while now but nothing seems to be working. Stress balls, squishy toys, bubble wrap,etc…thank you for all of your stories..now I know I’m not alone in this.

  • Jessabella

    I have had dermatillomania since I was 5. I can tell you that every single word of this is true(the truths). It has destroyed me,my self esteem has been squished like a bug. The only way I could hide this from the world was makeup. But one day, I was just sick of it. I didn’t wear makeup to school that day, a teacher took one look at me and sent me to the nurse. I had to explain. The worst part of it all, worse than the bullying, worse than the weird looks, was that I went to the bathroom, looked the mirror, and I didn’t recognize myself. It was a horrible feeling. I hope this article helps non dermatillomaniatic people understand our troubles and know that we’re just like you, but we don’t always seem like it. I sorry I spilled so much out on you, thank up you for taking a moment for listening.

  • Anonymous

    I am 13 and I struggle with this. My mom always yells at me if she sees my legs. She tells me it’s a bad habit like biting your nails. But it’s not. It’s gotten to the point where I attempt to hide my legs from everyone, out of fear people judging me .I started picking at the skin on my legs when I was 8. So I get really annoyed when people say all these things about why I do that. I had it when I was 8. None of those things could have happened to me.o

  • Anyone suffering from this can incorporate a Vitamin E supplement into their diet. After 4 weeks my skin is 80-90% healed and much softer! Seriously simple solution to a big problem! Good luck!

  • Tiffany Lopez Willaims

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  • YvieD

    I was watching 20/20 today on YouTube and in this episode there was a girl who couldn’t stop pulling out her hair. That’s when I started to wonder if I have the same problem but with picking my face. I get hormonal acne and I have bought every product for my face. I scrub it every day twice and day and I pick at it at night before bed. I can’t stand the bumps and I will even poke at it till I came squeeze out the clogged pore. I pick my back and sometimes I even try to pick my husband. My face is destroyed and I can’t stop. I kept thinking i just have horrible acne but I think my picking has contributed to it. I have oily skin and I’m constantly trying to get rid of the acne.
    Now realizing that I have this problem, I know it started during puberty. I had acne break outs and my mom would always want to pick them. She is very superficial and I think that made me the way that I am now. I’m so unhappy with my appearance and wished I had perfect skin. I feel if I pick it all out it will heal over and I’ll be fine and I’ll have the perfect skin that’s on everyone else’s face. But no I’m just left with huge craters on my nose. When biore pore strips came out, I bought it. I think I was 14 at the time. I used it and when I saw what came out on my nose it was like an addiction. I had to do it all the time. I’d squeeze and poke and scratch my nose. Even knowing all this I still can’t stop. My poor nose, my face and my back. I don’t know what to do.

  • Will

    For any who might still be reading this thread, there is a simple cure in many cases: NAC (N-acetyl cysteine). This is a cheap supplement available at Amaxon, GNC, etc. Jarrow Formulas is the brand you want. Up until I began taking two capsules a day, I had bitten my fingers and hands for over 20 years. I now have scars that show only when my hands get really tan in summer. It is incredible how much skin I had chewed at. I no longer bite at all. My doctor is floored. There is good published resesrch to back this up, though. NAC is powerful antioxidant that reduces brain inflammation, which may be one of the causes of a variety of mental illnesses. Anyway, I tried many solutions over the years, and nothing worked. I lost the urge to bite and pick after about one week on NAC. No side effects. Talk to your doc about this and it won’t take you long to find some peer-reviewed research on the Internet to make a case to her/him. NAC is just a supplement and is thought to be very safe, but you should always consult your doctor before taking anything. Good luck!!

  • Taythefujoshi

    im 15 and had this problem for awile but my mom dosnt get that i cant just stop.

  • Gareth Hook

    I’ve only just learned the name of this condition. I’ve been picking fingers since I was young used to be all fingers now just right thumb. I feel like there is something I have to eradicate and it becomes a mission to deal with it. And before long I too have a bloody thumb. I’ve tried plasters and wearing gloves even got these little rubber condom things but they just make your fingers sweat and the sling is easier to pick. It’s easiest to describe when you have an eyelash poking your eyeball. I can feel healing skin catching my other fingers and that’s it all out war. My ex wife once waxed my shoulders and immediately following I noticed small zits appear and since then I’ve been obsessed with searching for zits on my shoulders.
    Anyway that’s not as bad. I’m a truck driver and the drama for me is ill hold the steering wheel with my left hand and try my hardest to destroy my right thumb and as you can imagine it takes focus away from the mega importanht task of driving. So I’m going to try the glove again perhaps sign into a gym because that’s something positive that might distract me from my demons.

  • Rochelle Stern

    I had a bad skin rash this summer, and this terrible scolding NP Dermatologist (Hamilton, NJ) prescribed clobetasol and some other cream steroid. I was terribly itchy for about 2 months. When I returned, he scolded me for scabs and some picking on my right arm. He said that scabs are a sign of picking. I don’t really pick, I normally touch or rub, hoping it will go away. He said to keep applying clobetasol on it when he should have taken a skin test, because next time I had my appointment, he scolded me because my right arm now has a bacterial infection folliculits on it. I think the clobetasol clogged the pores, but he questioned me umpteenth times about picking, and I said I touched it a few times. Well he went ballistic and said I need to change my antidepressant medication. I had asked my psychiatrist about increasing the meds, but I am on the highest doses, and they are the ones for obsessiveness, and did not recommend increasing the meds. The NP dermatologist thinks that one pill or changing the medications will help me stop “picking.” He also told me DO NOT PICK, DO NOT TOUCH, until I was crying. He keeps telling me that I need to make his job easier. Why don’t the doctors make my life easier, why shame me?Why am I going there for help? Then he ended the session with “I hope this doesn’t offend you,” which of course we know the answer is yes. Well I don’t smoke, drink, don’t do illegal drugs. I’m a type 1 diabetes patient for 20 years and have no complications, I take care of myself. But the one thing that is a vice is touching or slightly brushing blemishes when everything the dermatologists offer me doesn’t do anything.

    Is it possible for a dermatologist to take this dermatillomania into account as a whole person, and be aggressive with treatments? I don’t touch or brush or “pick” skin when I have no blemishes or rashes.

  • Andrea Jones Torres

    I hope someone or people are still reading this thread. I recently developed a bald spot from picking constantly at a scab right at the front of my hairline where I part my hair. I would pick at it until it bleed and I didn’t care how much it hurt. When I noticed it started to look infected I immediately treated it only to discover after it healed there was a dime sized smooth pinkish bald spot where it had scarred over. I went to see my dermatologist who gave me steroid injections and a steroid cream but it’s been 3 weeks and I see no new hair growth. I’ve read alike stories where people’s hair grew back right away after this treatment so am worried that I damaged my follicles to the point where the hair isn’t going to grow back now. Has anyone had hair loss due to dermatillomania where the hair grew back? I picked at the scab for about 3 months. I’m simply mortified to think I may have done permanent damage to myself.

  • I’ve had dermatillomania for as long as I can remember. I’m so tired of people not taking it seriously. This is a very helpful article, but it is very binary (I’m genderqueer/nonbinary, and yes we do exist). More inclusive language in this article would help. I have very nasty bouts of anxiety and the fact that this article isn’t inclusive in its language isn’t helping very much, please keep this in mind. Being excluded in articles like this only heightens my anxiety, which in turn heightens my picking disorder. Not cool. Men and women aren’t the only ones out there suffering from picking disorders. I have scars all over my face (and body) to prove it.

    For now I’m using a topical form of retin-a, but I’m still fairly skeptical of the outcome. My family complains that I’m too obsessed with cosmetics, but in all honesty, they have no idea what dermatillomania is like. It’s not fair and I hate it. I feel alone. I also hate being compared to other people. All I know is that I should have gone to dermatologist a long time ago. It really hurts, but I need to just focus on the present and (somehow) stay calm.

  • Elise Covington

    I’ve had this disoder since I was a Feshman in Highschool, and it started because I couldnt eat or chew gum in a film class, and I happened to have a sunburn on my head that I started picking at. It’s taken me several years to quit other habits like this, and it’s strange that I dont always hide the fact that I pick at my skin. I rarely wear make-up anyways because my skin flakes, and it doesnt matter how much clothes I wear. I can always pull up a sleeve to pick. So I choose not to hide it, even though it can be embarrassing. And people only ask about it if it’s gotten worse. But I didnt realize that other people with it have a hard time stopping and have periods of recession. I even recently found out that it is associated with OCD.

  • Julie

    I’m 47 and have been picking since I was a child. I’m a massage therapist and teacher and have spent countless hours trying to “prepare” my nails before a Course or appointment so that People wouldn’t notice the damage already done to my thumbs. I started about 20 years ago to pick especially the cuticles on my thumbs, and now my nails are deformed and full of ridges. I was molested as a child and date raped as a Teenager and have been suffering from anxiety for a very Long time. I’m ashamed and embarassed, especially when my son asks why I do it and when I’m going to stop. Also, I feel terrible because I’ve seen him start to do it himself. I’m also a Relaxation therapist and None of that has helped. I almost feel like there is no cure and that I’ll never be able to do anything about it. Feeling pretty hopeless.

  • April Bernstein

    Hi everyone, read through a lot of the comments and don’t feel so alone and alien in this life long struggle. I am 29 and picking has been a part of my life since before I can remember. Not as bad when I was a child, with age it grows more severe. I tried getting medical help since my arms, legs, and face (I try sooo hard not to pick my face) tend to get picked severely. The doctors, regular family type physicians, were clueless and overloaded me on meds from anti-psychotics, ant-depressants, meds for bipolar, yet never for anxiety. I finally switched doctors, got off the meds, started meditating and it lessened a fraction yet it’s still bad.

    I’m embarrassed to go out since I have no eyelashes, I despise makeup (makes my skin break out and I pick worse) no shorts, no cute dresses, I just want to feel human and be able to enjoy going swimming with my husband and son and be able to go out in public without constantly worrying if people think I’m a drug addict or have some other health issue.

    Holidays, pictures, BBQs, being social…all of this is terrifying. My heart goes out to all of you. Finding treatment that isn’t expensive and doctors that listen is a struggle. Hopefully, we can beat this.

    Good luck

  • Angelic Flood

    I have been picking at my skin since I was a toddler. It didn’t really flare up for me until middle school when a friend made a comment regarding black heads on my nose. I have not been clinically diagnosed with anything. I have an idea of what I may have and of the family member who passed it to me. Who isn’t diagnosed with anything as well. I just wouldn’t know where to start when it come to talking to someone. My face was finally healed a couple of days ago. My babies got sick and BOOM! I cant stop myself. I walked around with gauze tapped to my cheeks while here at the house today. I couldn’t stop touching the gauze. I’m literally crying right now because this will be the first time I’ve ever admitted to this publicly. My oldest son has started peeling his fingers and I don’t know what to do to help him. I told him he is allowed to peel glue. He seems happy with the alternative. I can’t help but blame myself. I don’t want my son to try to google or web M.D. all that he does and try to piece himself together in attempt to figure out why he loves something that he hate. I want him to have a general direction. I just don’t know how to get started and how to find someone who will take into account all of the collective data I have noted over several years and observations I have made when it comes to other family members (like my parent and the children from a previous family.)
    I want to be able to just tell someone, straight up that I feel like I may have Aspergers, without the fear of being responded to like I’m stupid or trying to do someone eles job. I have an amazing husband who doesn’t batalash when he comes home from work one day to see so many new marks. He treats me like I look the same to him everyday. What hurts the most is the fact he knows that no matter how many times he will tell me I’m beautiful that I’m going to spit at my reflection after I spend 30 minutes squeezing every black hole, tiny white lump, ice pic scar…. I will rip the scabs off my face while I’m sitting somewhere eles. I’ll move to my leg or arm in a few days to give my face a chamce to heal… Why me? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0f72ebe432dc594e07cfd473c6f565c13ee64979394458aa8535deca3ed8390d.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ba1e8d06d55d6eb00c466eacc0f50324929dfac6ae10b2422ad7792ed87f4cd4.jpg

  • Shawnalaurence

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  • Diana Montana

    Hello ,
    I have Borderline personality disorder and my mood swings are awful. I went to therapy for 3 years and a half and then for problems with my insurance, I have to stop everything ….
    II couldn’t see my same psychotherapy for insurance issues, but I continue with my psychiatry and I am in treatment with pills, in this moment.
    I think that psychotherapy is very important for understand our disorder and practice a good Dialectical Behavior therapy with our psycologist and it’s possible involved our family.

  • Edie black

    People always seem to think I have lice.
    My mom constantly asks me if my scalp is itchy but if my scalp was just “itchy” I wouldn’t always have scabs on my scalp. Or she’ll just tell me to stop scratching like don’t you think I’ve tried? I’ve been trying to stop for years but the more I try the worse I seem to get.
    I’ve told my friends about it one of them just laughs at me the others just don’t really understand how much I do scratch.

  • Jewel Kid

    hi im 12 years old. My name is Jewel and i have this diesese. im going to the eighth grade and i dont want my face to be like this forever. i have many friends, popularity, and im getting better but i want to be beautiful. please help me. what do i do?

  • R.P.

    I struggled with this for over 17 years of my life 🙁 I live in FL and would never go to the beach or swim in a pool with other people around (both of which, I love) because I was so embarrassed at the state of my skin on every part of my body. I used to wear long sleeves and turtlenecks when it was hot as Hades outside. I finally tried therapy, more specifically, EMDR and it’s changed my life! I don’t have the obsessive need to find everything to pick at, and zone out spending 2+ hours in the bathroom anymore, I still pick occasionally but the compulsion is gone. I hope this helps someone, I wish the information that is out there now was available to me much younger. Sending you all hugs and love on your journey, recovery is possible!

  • Drew Sidorowicz

    I use carmex to cope with my lip picking, I have been biting at my lips since I was really little. I pick at my lips when I’m reading, focused, watching tv, laying down, thinking, working; literally everywhere and it sucks and if I’m not picking my lips I’m biting and chewing the insides of my cheeks. Carmex burns a bit but it is a good type of burn; it is indeed weird but it helps. It coats my lips thickly and leaves a glossy appearance that I actually like and I don’t get the urge to pick at them when I have it on. I can’t go anywhere without my carmex or I have panic attacks which makes me pick my lips worse and they’re so bloody and sore that I cry. I carry carmex on my purse, in my room, in the car, my boyfriends house, and my backpack because it is honestly that bad. Chapstick doesn’t do a lick of help either; it never did. I just need someway to cope with picking every pore on my chest, shoulders, and face. I’ve never been bad about scabs but blackheads nearly drive me insane and when I go to take a shower it is awful because all I have to do is look down at my chest for a split second and BAM I’m standing naked for nearly an hour trying to pick and pop every single pore that looks like I might be able to squeeze out. I know I am doing it and I tell myself to stop in my mind but again my mind just tells me I’m getting rid of the “invaders” and one more won’t hurt. Well nearly an hour later my chest and everything else is puffy, sore, red, swollen, and sometimes bloody which can last upwards to a week. It only makes me feel worse and turn back to it to help with my anxiety. If I touch my skin I’m gone and when I run my fingers over everything that isn’t smooth that I might be able to pop it starts again. I noticed it first when I was in 8th grade. I was in the shower and I noticed my pores on my chest and breast looked like a bandaid and out of curiosity squeezed it; stuff came out. It led me to popping the next one and the next one and so on. It was that moment that literally changed my life and it sucks that I can pinpoint it. I tried using bandaids to cover my bloody torn up chest but it only kinda helped. My parents told me to just stop and said that I looked like I did Meth. (I was 14 and this statement followed me and was a bigger blow to my already low self esteem) My best friend pulls all of her hair out and she’s honestly the only one that understands the relife it gives you during the trance stage. My boyfriend is so sweet and he tries to understand; If I am in the bathroom longer than I should be he comes in and gently pulls me away from the mirror and holds my hands while taking me to a different room without a mirror. Or if he sees my hands at the neck of my shirt he gently tells me to quit. He lost the battle when it comes to picking my lips. Lip picking and biting the skin around my fingernails has been a problem for me as early as 5 when I could remember a boy making fun of me for biting my lips and again when I ripped at the skin on my fingers and looked down to see them bleeding. I just remember how it burned so bad and that I was standing in line waiting for my dad to pick me up from school. Here and there I pull out hair. Again when the skin picking started to really cause problems in middle school I started pulling the hair off my scalp and seeing if I got the root attached to the hair was the goal. My hair is also wavy so some strands are smooth and some are rough and rigid (I pull the rigid ones) well the hair picking got so bad that it was causing scabs to form on my scalp and It felt so good to pick the scabs off. When my mom bleached my hair; I had been picking away at my scalp and it started bleeding and was clear as day in my bleached hair, one of my classmates asked if I was okay because I was bleeding and it was red. I was so ashamed of myself; it’s been 5 or 6 years since but I am still ashamed about it even now in college. I like to make my skin feel smooth so I pick anything that prevents my skin from being smooth. It’s just been an awful battle for me and I’ve spent much time feeling hopeless and crying not knowing what to do. The first psych doctor I ever talked to about it pretty much wrote me off and I tried to explain what it was at 16 and was so flustered I broke down and started crying. He grabbed a book off of his shelf and read to me “What I might have” said that Zoloft should relieve my depression and anxiety and with time the picking would be controlled. (I stopped taking Zoloft after 3 weeks because I couldn’t function to go to school, get out of bed, or go to work and I nearly killed myself on it). Two years later I gave meds a chance again but from a different doctor who put me on wellbutrin which has helped tremendously; it mellows me out and the urge to pick isn’t so severe. However, just recently, my boyfriend left for bootcamp in California and my picking has flared up again so much so I am distraught and worried. I don’t know what to do to die down the urge to pick, it’s just so easy to pick at my skin and get lost.

  • Julia D

    I’m in middle school and I’ve done this since I was born. I didn’t have acne or zits I just started doing it. It’s so addicting. And that’s not just what I do. I pick the skin on my toes after showers and eat it. And then I have super sharp canines and I like to bite my lips a lot and drink the blood. People say I’m “overemphasizing” too much. But this is true. Anyone have any advice for how to stop?

  • Im Potato

    is it somewhere my fault that i have dermatillomania? i just want to know if it’s my fault?

  • Stacy Deann

    How and what can I use for my sores to relieve pain over the counter medication

  • Kristy McCord

    is this still an active thread? im curious because i have a question