As you sit before your favorite mirror, picking endlessly and by the hour at the skin on your face, neck, scalp, arms, shoulders, or wherever, you may wonder where did this strange behavior come from, in the first place. You may be a parent or schoolteacher watching a child pick unconsciously or uncontrollably and wonder why this child but not the others. As of yet, there is not one, concrete answer to what causes a person to pick so compulsively but there do seem to be a number of common triggers that may offer some insight into reasons behind the behavior.
Many compulsive skin picking causes are emotional or mental. Emotional trauma can lead to feelings of helplessness and insecurity. When a child is being traumatized and bullied by a parent, sibling, schoolmate, or anyone, he or she loses the feeling of being in control of their environment. In fact, the bullying makes the victim's personal space shrink. It's possible this victim thinks he or she has control of an area of the universe no farther away than his or her own skin. But we all seem to have an instinctive need to control our environments, even if it seems to extend no further than our own body. By choosing which areas, flaws, and blemishes to pick or leave to heal, we exert control over our environment, no matter how sad or small. Not all skin picking causes are the result of chronic distress. Sometimes one single but deeply troubling experience can so erode a person's self-esteem that they withdraw from their social relationships and turn the lasting effect of the trauma inside, where feelings of guilt, recrimination, and anger fuel the compulsion to pick.
Some skin picking causes are actually symptoms of another disease or disorder. Many CSP patients also suffer from other mental issues such as depression, schizophrenia, or body dysmorphic disorder. Some physical conditions include excessive skin picking in their symptomology. Often these physical disorders affect the liver or kidneys but the skin picking can also be a sign of anemia.
Drugs, both prescription and otherwise, are still more skin picking causes that are worth exploring. Some drugs come with the side effect of causing itchiness and other sensations of the skin that lead to picking and scratching. Altering dosage often improves the urge to pick. Other times, the irresistible urge to pick comes during the withdrawal phase, when a drug therapy is being discontinued. In addition to the possible mental, physical, and pharmaceutical origins of the disorder, genetics, too, are often cited as skin picking causes under serious consideration.
Once a compulsion is revealed to family members, it's not uncommon for other family members to come forward with confessions of their own compulsion to pick or for a family member to recall the picking habits of a distant or deceased relative.
Compulsive skin picking is a puzzling diagnosis, with all possible skin picking causes seen as equally puzzling. Some therapists consider it advisable to focus less on the cause of the compulsion but to focus instead on treating the everyday, here and now, symptoms and behaviors in order to have a more pleasant future. This approach works only when there are no other underlying physical conditions that may be causing the compulsion to pick. Any time there is an underlying disorder that includes skin picking as part of its scope of symptoms, the underlying disorder must be addressed, too, in order to obtain any lasting relief from the compulsion to pick destructively at one's skin.
For more information about skin picking causes get the Complete Guide to Picking Disorders today.