Dermatillomania Therapy: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments and More - Works for Health (2023)

You compulsively pick your skin when you suffer from a mental illness known as dermatillomania.

If you have this disorder, you won't be able to stop scratching your skin. Other names for dermatillomania include abrasion disorder and skin picking disorder.

People with this disorder pick at their skin to correct blemishes caused by acne or other skin problems.

This can lead to bruising, scarring, infection, and tissue damage, which can cause anxiety, stress, and a reduced sense of well-being.

A combination of self-help techniques, medication, and therapy is often effective in treating this condition.

(Video) Excoriation disorder: current treatment options – Video abstract [ID 121138]

You can carry out the recommended treatment yourself, but you may need medical attention.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can also use a method known as habit-reversal training, is the most popular form of treatment for dermatillomania.

It is believed that psychotherapy can also help people stop skin picking.In this article, we will discuss the entire dermatillomania therapy.

Dermatillomania Therapy: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments and More - Works for Health (1)

What is dermatillomania?

Skin lesions caused by repeated scratching of the skin are known as dermatillomania.

Clinically significant discomfort is caused by scratching the skin andsymptoms[1]These include a loss of self-control, embarrassment, and embarrassment.

Along with other activities such as compulsive cheek biting, hair pulling and nail biting, skin picking is classified as abody-oriented repetitive behavior[2](BFBR).

OCD and dermatillomania are commonly associated, in part because of their shared obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

In addition to physical damage, it is characterized by mental suffering. Even after numerous attempts to delay or stop skin shaving, it is unmanageable.

People with this condition can spend hours making a choice before finally giving up.

Symptoms of Dermatillomania

  • Choose your skin often

    People with dermatillomania or a skin condition feelThanks[3]frequent scratching of the skin

    (Video) EXCORIATION| Skin Picking Disorder| OCD| Treatment

  • bleeding

    Dermatillomania often causes tissue damage andnow and then[4]even infections. The urge to pinch is so strong that it can injure the skin.

  • Rash on anxiety

    Even the slightest feeling of stressconcerned[5]it can cause uncontrollable scratching of the skin.

  • scratch your skin

    The person tries to stop biting because they know that biting is undesirable. Therefore, a history of unsuccessful attempts to stop scratching is one of the symptoms of dermatillomania.

    It can tear the skin on one or more parts of the body. Head, face, arms, cuticles, back, hands, feet and legs are typical spots.

    People usually remove the skin by picking it up with their fingers and fingernails, but they can also touch it with sharp objects such as scissors or tweezers.

Causes of dermatillomania

Skin picking disorder, or dermatillomania, can occur as a result of:

  • An injury, rash, or disease that develops a scab. People may scratch or pick at the scab until it bleeds into a new wound because it will be itchy as it heals. This behavior gradually becomes a habit.
  • Since the disorder often runs in families, genetics may play a role.
  • Another contributing factor in people with dermatillomania can be mental health issues such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Skin picking problems have a high correlation with anxiety and sadness. People who pick their skin more often experience more anxiety. Depression follows the same pattern.

Treatment of dermatillomania

  • Anticonvulsants

    This can help you with dermatillomaniaIncluding[6]Lamotrigine, which helps with uncontrollable muscle movements.

  • Antidepressants

    Antidepressants, such as selective serotoninrecapture[7]Inhibitors (SSRIs) could be administered to treat mental health through its complication.

  • Antipsychotics

    They are used to treat many conditions, including bipolar disorder, dementia and schizophrenia. That's the way it isbelieved[8]that antipsychotics can help treat similar mental illnesses like dermatillomania.

  • Antibiotics

    These may be needed for people with this condition to treat possible infections resulting from the skin removal.

    (Video) How to Recognize Dermatillomania Symptoms

    Nutraceuticals like N-acetylcysteine, a nutrition-related product, can help reduce cravings

Therapies for Dermatillomania

  • Habit Reversal Therapy

    The symptoms of extreme skin pricking can be reduced and controlled with HRT, although there is no known cure for the condition.

    For a body-oriented treatmentrepetitive[9]For diseases such as dermatillomania, HRT is considered the most successful method.

    HRT works by helping you turn unwanted behavior that you want to stop into more desirable behavior. HRT can help you break the cycle of selection and discover new trigger coping mechanisms.

    However, almost everyone experiences success with HRT alone. Skin picking disorders are extremely diverse and affect humans in a variety of ways. Despite this, HRT can still play an important role in treatment.

    HRT has the advantage of being easy to learn and use. You can learn methods of overcoming your choice impulses, either on your own or with a therapist.

    You can even try one of the improved HRT techniques with a therapist, e.g. B. Combining HRT with an additional technique such as Athe CT.

  • cognitive behavioral therapy

    It is also known as TCC. The most popular form of psychotherapy used to treat people with dermatillomania is cognitive behavioral therapy.

    a single canrecognize[10]Triggers and learn how to change your behavior to stop or reduce skin picking through cognitive behavioral therapy.

    Cognitive behavioral interventions for skin picking disorder are highly beneficial when administered to patients in a self-help format.

    (Video) My Journey with Dermatillomania.

    A person's brain structure changes as they learn and practice new behaviors, converting previously learned behaviors into automatic responses.

  • decoupling therapy

    Another method known as decoupling (DC) is effective in unlearning the habit of skin picking andsubstitute[11]healthy behavior for it.

  • group therapy

    People with dermatillomania often experience intense shame and loneliness and are unable to open up to others about their struggles.

    Therefore, group therapy can provide a valuable and safe environment for people with dermatillomania to express and share experiences and feelings.

    IsSupport[12]they get from the group therapy discussion can help them with their skin picking disorder.


Undiagnosed or misdiagnosed skin delusions often do more damage than it's worth.

When looking for a therapist, look for someone who specializes in body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs).

They know the latest therapies and are trained to accurately assess behaviors and triggers.

Early treatment and less skin damage will be possible in dermatillomania by creating an open environment where people don't need to hide their scratching habits.

Finally, mental health specialists who focus on body-related, repetitive behaviors can educate their patients on how to care for their skin and introduce them to all available treatments.

(Video) The connection between skin picking, OCD, and stored trauma

A mental health specialist will understand that everyone experiences the disorder differently and can help you increase your self-awareness and determine the types of treatments that are effective for your specific circumstances.


Working4Health prefers to use primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing policies and our key credentials include peer-reviewed research, academic studies and medical institutions.

  1. Srikrishna V Malayala, Hira Rehman and Deepa Vasireddy. Dermatillomania: case report and literature review. i heal January 2021; 13(1):e12932.
    Published online January 27, 2021. doi: 10.7759/cureus.12932.
  2. Rahat Hossain, Joanne Leung Yee and Mark Sinyor. Body-related repetitive disorders. CMAJ. October 17, 2022; 194(40):E1381. Published online October 17, 2022. doi:10.1503/cmaj.220228.
  3. Jon E Granta and Samuel R Chamberlain. Prevalence of skin picking disorders (abrasions). J Psychiatry Res. Nov 2020; 130:57-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.06.033
  4. Daniel I. Kim, Roger C. Garrison and Gary Thompson. A near-fatal case of pathological skin pinching. Bin J Case Rep. 2013; 14:284-287. Published online July 29, 2013. doi:10.12659/AJCR.889357
  5. Shady S. Shebak, James Pinkston, and Rizwan Ali. Rash associated with panic attacks. Prim Care Companion CNS Disorder. 2016; 18(1): 10.4088/PCC.15l01822. Published online February 11, 2016. doi:10.4088/PCC.15l01822
  6. Hee Ryung Wang, Young Sup Woo and Won-Myong Bahk. Possible role of anticonvulsants in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder and related disorders. Clinic Neurosci Psychiatry. October 2014; 68(10):723-32. doi: 10.1111/pcn.12186. Epub 9 June 2014. Available at:
  7. David R. Spiegel and Lindsey Finklea. Detection and treatment of pathological skin punctures. Psychiatry (Edgmont). February 2009; 6(2): 38-42. Published online February 2009.
  8. Christine Lochner, Annerine Roos, and Dan J Stein. Excoriation disorder (skin picking): a systematic review of treatment options. Neuropsychiatrist Dis Treat. 2017; 13: 1867-1872. Published online July 14, 2017. doi:10.2147/NDT.S121138
  9. Melissa T Lee, Davis N Mpavaenda, and Naomi A Fineberg. Habit reversal therapy in related OCD: a systematic review of the evidence and CONSORT review of randomized controlled trials. Front Behavior Neurosci. 2019; 13:79. Published online April 24, 2019. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00079
  10. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Release Date: August 7, 2013. Available at:
  11. Michael E Levin, Jason B Luoma, Jack A Haeger. Decoupling as a mechanism of change in mindfulness and acceptance: a literature review. Behavior Modifier November 2015; 39(6):870-911. doi: 10.1177/0145445515603707. Epub 2015, September 8th. Available at:
  12. Akshay Malhotra; Jeff Baker. group therapy. Date Updated: June 11, 2022. Available at:


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