Acne Excoriee

Trudi Griffin - LPC
Aug 4th, 2019
Medical review by

What is "Acne Excoriee"?

The general public tends to minimize the significance and impact of the medical condition commonly called acne. It surprises many people to learn that it is a complicated medical condition that comes in different forms and is caused by different situations. Common acne is often diagnosed as acne vulgaris, with the word acne meaning the outbreak of pimples, and the word vulgaris means common. There is another disturbing form of acne that gets the name acne excoriee commonly called picker’s acne. The condition usually starts out like other acne outbreaks. First one pimple erupts, then another. For most people, this begins during the adolescent years, when the body is undergoing major hormonal changes, some of which trigger the onset of acne vulgaris. For most people, the eruption of blemishes comes at a time in life when even little things feel big. It’s almost impossible not to poke, prod, and squeeze a bit. The problem with picking acne blemishes is that it’s not only unsanitary but infection can set in, causing more severe blemishes. Another problem is that it’s unsightly, although probably not so much to friends and family members as it is to the adolescent sporting them. When the acne blemishes occur on the face of someone experiencing episodes of self-doubt, emotional turmoil, or low self-esteem, however, picking the blemishes can lead to a disturbing obsession. A vicious cycle of eruptions followed by picking and open sores begins a cycle that can be very difficult to stop. Excoriated acne is often accompanied by other medical maladies that are more serious, even life-threatening. Major medical conditions such as depression, autism, attention-deficit disorders, and other anxiety- and mood-related may be hiding beneath the ravaged surface.


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Picking acne - why does it happen?

Acne excoriee usually begins during adolescence, when ideas of self-image are in upheaval and undergoing change, matching the changes going on with the physical body. A fragile self-image may create an atmosphere where the significance of every imperfection perceived, real or not, is distorted. By picking away at the blemishes on the face, no matter how small, results in satisfaction as if they are picking away at their troubles or their emotional pain. The underlying emotional trauma manifested in picking acne lesions may also be a coping mechanism designed to quell the pain of physical or emotional abuse in the picker’s life. This trauma may be happening at the time the picking begins or it may be a timely outlet for previous trauma.

One sign that distinguishes excoriated acne from acne vulgaris is the presence of hyperpigmented brown spots on the face, chest, and other places where acne eruptions are likely. These brown spots are scars from previous blemishes that have been picked to the point of permanent tissue damage.

Adolescence is a very confusing time in the life of a child. Adults who spot brown spots of scarring in the absence of excessive active acne lesions should pay attention and offer help.

Trudi Griffin - LPC


Education, experience, and compassion for people informs Trudi's research and writing about mental health. She holds a Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Addictions and Mental Health from Marquette University, with Bachelor’s degrees in Communications and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Before committing to full-time research and writing, she practiced as a Licensed Professional Counselor providing therapy to people of all ages who struggled with addictions, mental health problems, and trauma recovery in community health settings and private practice.

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