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Excoriation Disorder

What is Excoriation Disorder?

Excoriation Disorder, also known as Skin Picking Disorder, is when an individual begins to pick or scab their skin so frequently and intense that the individual causes their skin to bleed, sore, or to scar. It is common for us to pick our skin once a while, but when it gets to the point where the individual is provoking injury, it may then become a disorder and/or problem. Individuals who are diagnosed with such disorder are those who repeatedly scratch their skin in an attempt to remove what they see as an imperfection in their skin for example.

What are the symptoms of Excoriation Disorder?

  • An individual is constantly picking their skin and as a result, skin lesions occur
  • An individual may have repeated attempts to stop their behavior
  • Because of the skin picking behavior and the results that it brings to an individual, an individual has significant distress or impairment
  • The symptoms are not better explained by another psychiatric disorder
  • Such symptoms are not cause by a medical, substance, or dermatological condition
  • An individual appears to show a significant number of scars
  • An individual may feel upset when thinking about how much they pick their skin
  • An individual may avoid social situations because of their skin and the scars for example, that may have resulted because of the picking

What causes Excoriation Disorder?

Although the exact cause is not known, experts believe that genetics may play a role in the environment and that an individual who suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are at higher risk of developing such disorder.

In addition, the following factors may increase the risk of an individual developing Excoriation Disorder:

  • When individual experiences some kind of rash, injury, or skin infection, they are more likely to continue with the scabbing after such experience
  • During times of stress
    • An individual is likely to pick or scab their skin, which may result in it becoming a habit

How is Excoriation Disorder treated?

  • Therapy
    • Habit Reversal Training
      • A therapist will help the client identify the situations, stresses, or factors that are triggering their skin picking. Once the factors are identified, the therapist works with the individual to find other things that they can do to deal with such situations rather than skin picking (i.e. squeezing a rubber ball)
    • Stimulus Control
      • Such therapy focuses on making changes to the individuals environment (i.e. the individual can begin to wear gloves or band aids)
    • Medications

How can I cope with Excoriation Disorder?

  • Find support in your community (i.e. support groups)
  • Seek professional guidance
  • Educate yourself & loved ones
  • Support yourself
    • Set goals & celebrate when you reach them