Picking at one’s skin while distracted can be a problem for some people. It’s possible that they’ll randomly pop a pimple or scab that’s especially troubling. Excessive skin picking, also known as excoriation disorder, can develop from a simple picking habit.
What is Excoriation Disorder?
Excoriation disorder, also known as “skin picking disorder,” is a mental illness characterised by obsessive and aggressive picking at one’s own skin on a frequent basis. Skin picking is a compulsive, repetitive, and body-focused behaviour, and those who engage in it are frequently unaware that they are doing so. Others have a difficult time breaking the habit. Excoriation is classified as an obsessive compulsive behaviour by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association.
The diagnostic criteria for excoriation as laid out by the DSM-5 are:
- Recurrent skin-picking, resulting in skin lesions
- Multiple attempts to lessen or completely eliminate skin picking
- The compulsive skin picking causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
- The skin picking cannot be attributed to the physiologic effects of a substance (e.g., cocaine) or another medical condition (e.g., scabies) (e.g., scabies)
- Body dysmorphic disorder, delusions or tactile hallucinations (psychotic disorder), attempts to improve one’s appearance (body picking), stereotypies (stereotypic movement disorder), or an intention to harm oneself cannot explain the skin picking (non-suicidal self-injury)
Excoriation disorder has been described as related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) (OCD). OCPD is a mental illness characterised by an inability to resist the urge to perform ritualistic behaviours (such as hair-pulling or skin picking) and by the presence of intrusive, intrusive thoughts (also known as obsessions). It is common for an OCD sufferer to have little or no control over their thoughts or behaviours. Similarly, someone suffering from excoriation skin picking disorder often does not have much power of this body-focused repetitive action. Fortunately, research has shown that this condition affects only a small percentage of the population – an estimated 2-5 percent – the majority being women.
The skin is the body’s largest organ, and this means that any condition that affects it can also affect a person’s general health and well-being. The impact of excoriation disorder on one’s life may be significant, as it causes physical pain and can make an individual feel shame and embarrassment about the appearance of their skin lesions and this compulsive behaviour. It can also affect their relationship with themselves and others.
How to Deal With Excoriation Disorder
The exact cause of excoriation disorder, skin picking, remains largely unknown, but there are several ways to deal with the condition. This habit can be broken by employing techniques like stimulus control, which involves keeping sharp objects out of reach or donning protective clothing like gloves to keep them from picking at their skin in the first place.
While these tips may be helpful, individuals affected by this condition may find it too easy to remove gloves, or reach for objects like tweezers when the urge to pick at their skin arises. It is as important to deal with the urge for this body-focused repetitive behaviour as to adopt habits that can help prevent skin picking.
Excruciation disorder can be treated in five ways.
1.The first step is to determine what sets off the triggers.
The first step in treating excoriation disorder is figuring out what sets off the compulsive picking behaviour in the first place. Skin-picking and other repetitive behaviours centred on the body can be caused by a variety of biological and environmental factors. In order to find the best treatment for their skin picking disorder, those who suffer from this condition need to be aware of the specific circumstances that affect them.
Some people may pick their skin out of boredom, displeasure at blemishes, and in some cases, as a result of depression. If physical conditions like acne are causing a person to pick at their skin, they should see a dermatologist. However, if the obsessive compulsive habit is triggered by depression or anxiety, it is advisable to speak with a mental health expert
Seek the advice of an expert
Many people with excoriation skin picking disorder put off seeking professional help because they are ashamed of their condition and the skin lesions it has caused them to have on their bodies. At the same time, others may not see skin picking as being serious enough to warrant seeking medical help.
Psychiatrists, whether in person or online, can also prescribe anxiety and stress medication to treat the triggers that lead to habitual skin picking behaviour. There are several psychotherapeutic approaches and interventions available to reduce the symptoms and repair the skin damage caused by the disorder, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, which helps people understand the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and their mental health. Skin picking disorder behavioural therapy often includes a level of habit reversal training, which can effectively help stop problematic repetitive behaviours. Medications to help with anxiety and stress can also be prescribed by doctors to deal with the triggers that lead to repetitive skin picking behaviours.
Since excoriation disorder often occurs simultaneously with other conditions like depression and body dysmorphia, it is equally important to target these conditions as well, so that they don’t trigger the urge to pick while the skin is being treated.
3.Make it a point to get regular exercise.
In the majority of cases, stress, anxiety, and depressive states are the primary catalysts for chronic skin picking. Adopting a consistent exercise routine is one effective way to reduce stress. Consistent physical activity can also help to keep the mind occupied and lessen the desire to engage in body-focused repetitive behaviours like hair pulling or skin picking. A person’s tendency to engage in skin picking is lessened when they engage in aerobic exercises like biking or swimming.
Excoriation disorder can be treated with mindfulness as well as physical exercise. Stress reduction and mental relaxation can be achieved through practises such as yoga and meditation. Maintaining a calm mind also helps an individual identify obsessive thought patterns that cause them to pick at their skin, and work on controlling those thought patterns. On a general note, exercising the mind and body keeps a person busy and fosters a positive mindset.
4.Develop rituals of self-care that are beneficial to your health.
Another helpful way to deal with excoriation disorder is by developing healthy rules and rituals to help control anxiety, which often causes the body-focused repetitive behaviour. Self-care doesn’t have to be life-altering; it can be as simple as listening to calming music, eating healthfully, or following a skincare regimen on a daily basis. These small adjustments can go a long way in curbing stress and reducing the urge to pick the skin. Caring for the body can also help a person develop a more positive mindset.
Even though it may be hard to adopt new habits to replace the habit of compulsive picking, it is important to maintain consistency and slowly incorporate a new, healthy ritual into one’s daily routine.
5.Strengthen your network of friends and family.
Anyone struggling with excoriation disorder needs to surround themselves with a strong network of close friends and family members. As a result of their feelings of self-consciousness about their physical appearance, those who suffer from this condition tend to withdraw from family gatherings and other social events. It’s important to remember that asking about scars doesn’t help those who suffer from excoriation disorder. Many, when struggling with the disorder, find it difficult to speak about.
For those who suffer from excoriation disorder, it’s critical that they talk to their loved ones and friends about their condition. They need to be surrounded by people who understand what they’re going through, and who will offer the support and encouragement they need to deal with the disorder.
The most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with excoriation disorder is that everyone has the right to be confident. Always. The skin positivity movement is one of the most progressive trends of the decade, and it highlights the need for people to feel free in their skin, regardless of conditions that cause them to have physical scars or blemishes.
Don’t let physical scars keep you from experiencing life to the fullest.