Originally posted on San Diego Therapy Blog:
In this blog we are going to talk about dermatillomania, or chronic skin picking (CSP) Chronic skin picking is a serious problem, and one that can make those who experience it pretty miserable. People who suffer from dermotillomania repetitively touch, scratch, pick at, or dig into their skin. People use their fingernails or sometimes instruments like tweezers or pins. They are usually attempting to remove whiteheads or blackheads, small irregularities, scars or scabs, or what they perceive as imperfections in the skin. Chronic skin picking may result in scarring or infection. In more serious cases, severe tissue damage and permanent disfigurement can result.
Dermotillomania is what we call a Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior in which a person cause harm or damage to themselves. Other Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors include chronic hair pulling (called trichotillomania), biting the insides of the cheeks, and nail biting or picking at the cuticles or skin around the nails. Chronic skin picking is sometimes confused with self-harm behaviors like cutting, however, it is not the same type of condition.
So why do people develop chronic skin picking? There is no one single reason. Skin picking or other BFRBs can occur when a person experiences feelings such as anxiety, fear, excitement or boredom. Some people report that they have a sense of urgency to pick, feeling like a kind of irresistible urge. They may experience the act of repetitively picking at their skin as pleasurable, or it provides a sense of relief of tension and stress.