The following text is the copyright of The Recovery Village. The aim is to raise awareness of dermatillomania, or compulsive skin picking, and to dispel the common myths that often arise
Myth #3: Dermatillomania is caused by an underlying skin condition.
Fact: Skin picking results in skin damage, but is not itself caused by any skin abnormalities.
Skin picking disorder is psychological impulse control and obsessive-compulsive disorder where the individual picks at normal skin. They are not picking because their skin is itchy or sore, or because the skin is bumpy or in any way abnormal. Rather, they are driven by anxiety that is only relieved by picking.
Unfortunately, people who self-pick can develop serious skin problems, especially as their picking progresses. They can cause open sores, serious skin staph infections from open wounds, and permanent scarring. They can develop thickened, rough skin. They can even damage underlying structures, such as tendons and bones. When their skin wounds are in visible areas, such as the face, neck, upper chest, hands and arms, they can develop permanent disfiguration.
If by chance, skin pickers do have any skin abnormalities, such as eczema or acne, they usually pick at that area of skin. However, these skin problems do not cause the picking compulsion, they merely become a focus of it. It is the picking that causes skin problems, not skin problems that cause the picking.
I have no underlying skin conditions. In fact, most people compliment the skin on my face because it does look rosy and healthy, but it’s everywhere else that is scarred. I even got asked for ID buying alcohol in B&M Bargains today, and I’m 39.
Thankfully, I don’t pick at the skin on my face just rub my nose for hours and hours, cleansing it with isopropyl alcohol numerous times throughout the day. Sometimes my hands ache. The truth is that I can’t even visit the hairdressers, and haven’t done so in ten plus years, because of the constant sores and scabs in my scalp. Thankfully, I don’t do a bad job of cutting my hair, because it’s short anyway. I struggle to trim the back though. Skin picking comes with embarrassment, and also envy toward others who have beautiful skin all over, who can bare their skin in the summer months. I have to rely on sun beds to cover the scars, but even then it doesn’t stop the compulsions to pick.