Do You Have Dermatillomania?

Do You Have Dermatillomania?

When learning about the existence of dermatillomania, many people begin to worry if they, too, have this disorder because they pick their skin. How do you know if you have a compulsion or pesky “habit”? When does picking your skin become a disorder?

Questions to Consider…

Do you pick at your skin enough to cause emotional distress?

Does your skin picking prevent you from engaging in social activities?

Do you feel that you are being held back in life because of your picking?

Do you keep your obsessive skin picking a secret for fear of judgment?

Do you feel ashamed that you are unable to stop picking at your skin?

Does this make you feel alone?

Do You Have Dermatillomania?

Released in May of 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) officially lists dermatillomania as excoriation disorder, under the Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders category.

Do You Have Dermatillomania?

Diagnostic Criteria:

Recurrent skin picking that results in skin lesions

Repeated attempts to stop the behavior

The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment

The symptoms are not caused by a medical or skin condition, or a substance

The symptoms are not better explained by another psychiatric disorder

The OCD Center of LA offers an online assessment to test if your skin picking is an issue of concern. They also have an article outlining the ABC’s of Dermatillomania by Karen Pickett, LMFT:

A” is something that almost “Anyone” would pick. This could be a piece of dry skin hanging off your arm, a pus-filled whitehead on your chin that pops at your mere touch, or a scab that’s barely hanging on.

B” is a “Bump”, pimple, scab, etc. that only a skin picker would pick. This is something that would either become an “A” over time or go away on its own if left alone. But, a skin picker will frequently start picking at it and make it significantly worse. It may then bleed, ooze, scab, and possibly become infected.  This will cause two additional problems – it will cause the picker significant distress, and something new to pick at later.

C” stands for “Create“, meaning the individual with excoriation disorder is not picking at anything objectively “real”, but in the process of picking at her skin, she “creates” a scratch or scab.  A “C” is something that only someone with dermatillomania would pick. There is often nothing worrisome on the skin, but the picker searches for irregularities, and creates wounds.

Please see a trained professional if you believe your skin picking is interfering with your day-to-day activities and causing you emotional distress. Additional testing may need to be done to determine if your skin picking is exacerbated by a skin disorder, or psychological condition.

Check out the documentary Scars of Shame and Angela’s memoir FOREVER MARKED: A Dermatillomania Diary. Learn about her upcoming recovery book EMBRACING DERMATILLOMANIA: Through Pain & Recovery. Follow Angela on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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