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If you have skin picking disorder you can’t resist your impulses to pick at your skin. You probably spend a great deal of time each day either picking or hiding the effects of your actions and your skin definitely suffers lesions or tissue damage as a result. Your disorder causes you to feel embarrassed or ashamed and it interferes with your ability to lead a normal and happy life.

You may well feel tension before you pick and a sense of relief afterward and if you’re like most skin pickers you pick at your face using your fingers or tweezers – picking at real and imagined blemishes – often until you end up bleeding.

You almost certainly try to hide your disorder and its effects on your skin and if you’re like many with this condition you’ll avoid certain types of social situations to keep your affliction a secret.

Although doctors aren’t yet sure how to classify skin picking disorder (probably a subtype of impulse control disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder) no one denies the seriousness of the condition, the difficulty people with the disorder have in controlling their impulses and the need for treatments that can help.

Skin picking disorder is also sometimes called dermatillomania or copmpulsive skin picking.

Diagnosis – Do You Have Skin Picking Disorder?

Although not currently in the American Psychiatric Association's Manual of Mental Health Disorders, the DMV-IVr, it is under consideration for addition to the upcoming DSM-V edition.

Based on the criteria under consideration for inclusion into the upcoming manual, to meet a diagnosis of skin picking disorder you must:

  1. Engage in re-occurring bouts of skin picking and this picking must result in tissue damage or lesions
  1. Feel or experience significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important life-area functioning as a result of your skin picking disorder
  1. Not pick as a result of substance use or abuse (cocaine or methamphetamine use, for example) nor pick as a result of a medical condition, like scabies
  1. Not have another mental health disorder which better explains the skin picking, such as body dysmorphic disorder or delusional disorder

Basically, if you find that you chronically skin pick, your skin picking results in noticeable cuts or lesions, your skin picking is interfering with your quality of life and no other medical or psychiatric condition better explains your actions – then you have skin picking disorder.

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Page last updated Nov 03, 2010

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