Qustion: My 86 year old father in law has developed a compulsive skin picking habit and has a belief that bug are living under his skin. He has circulation issues so we worry about Gangrene forming in his leg and foot sores. The meds make him sleep but has done little to interupt the picking cycle. What else can we do??
Answer: This is not fundamentally about the picking. it is secondary to what is called "delusions of parasitosis." In this condition people who can be otherwise quite sane and functional develop a steadfast conviction that they are infested. Symptoms usually start at some point of increased stress. Logic, evidence, and psychological approaches are usually ineffective. Antipsychotic medications are usually quite effective. These are not the same meds usually prescribed and not very effective for picking. The problem is that patients often reject them, saying, "I'm not crazy, the bugs are real." They indeed feel very real. It is sort of like if your car's oil light keeps going on, but you have plenty of oil, the light is broken and giving you an inaccurate story. The key is to find a firm but compassionate way to get him to do a trial on the antipsychotic meds. Some PCP's will prescribe, some derm practices, or you may need a psychiatrist/psychopharmacologist.
Ted A. Grossbart, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
There are a lot of people suffering from compulsive skin picking who are looking for answers. Some find what they're looking for on Skinpick.com, other websites and forums dedicated to the topic, or books about skin piking. However a lot of people don't find exactly what they're looking for, due to the particularity of their case or any other reason. Plus, not all are ready or willing to get professional help for skin picking.
We decided to help by giving people the opportunity to ask questions about their condition and receive expert advice from a professional.
Hopefully we will help many people just by answering their question. A broader goal is to compile a list of Q&A, which on itself will be very informative and helpful not just to people who send in the questions, but to all readers.
Dr. Ted Grossbart, a known expert on CSP and related disorders, will answer your questions.
To submit a question please visit this page.
Answers will be posted about once a week on this page.
We received an email from Lisa, the director of scars of shame. It's a film about Angela, a 24 year old, struggling with Dermatillomania. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first attempt to increase awareness about the compulsive picking disorder using the film medium.
As I understand, they completed most of the filming, but there's still a lot of work to be done. They need funds to help them with production costs. In addition, they want to take Angela to San Francisco to be part of the TLC skin-picking conference and meet professionals who might be able to help her.
The film was funded by personal investment of the producer and director. You might be able to help them take Angela to the conference and finish the film. Click here to help
My name is Dr. Ted Grossbart. For a few months now I've been offering counseling services on SkinPick.com.
Recently we realized that many people have questions about their condition, but not all of them are seeking individual help. We decided to help these people by opening this "Ask The Expert" page, where you can ask a question about your disorder.
I will post the answers to your questions about once a week (depending on my availability and the number of questions I get).
You can send me your questions by filling up the form on this page.
There's good chance you know Angela Hartlin (the author of FOREVER MARKED: A Dermatillomania Diary.
I came to know that a documentary is coming up, featuring Angela. You can view the trailer here.
When does it come out? And where? Angie, if you're reading this, we would all be happy to know these details.
We've been contacted by Clarabella, an undergraduate student from St. Mary's University College, England. She carries out a study on compulsive skin picking, supervised by Dr. Tig Calvert. She asked us to post about her study and bring in as much participants as possible. So if you can spare a few minutes of your time, this would be very helpful.
It's a study aimed at discovering the various emotional "functions" this disorder presumably fulfills.
Clarabella promised to share the results and conclusions of her study with SkinPick.com, so stay tuned (expected in April 2011).
Healthyplace.com hosted an online interview with Katie R. (21). Katie has dermatillomania, and like in many other cases, it began with acne picking. In this interview, she's talking about life with compulsive skin picking - how it affects her daily life and personal relationships. She also talks about the way she's gone through seeking for help, and her current therapy process (involving habit reversal therapy for skin picking).
The interview is comprised of two parts. First part contains the beginning of the interview, with some intro video, featuring Angela Hartlin. The second part contains the continuation of the interview, and ends with a live Q&A session. Thanks Katie for this interview and your online involvement!
Great news for people who suffer from skin picking, and are seeking professional counseling:
Dr. Ted Grossbart, a leading expert on treating skin picking, has agreed to provide his counseling services to SkinPick.com visitors.
Dr. Grossbart is a worldwide known expert in the field of psychodermatology (the area of psychology that treats emotionally related skin disorders). Compulsive skin picking and related disorders are a major focus of his work.
If you suffer from skin picking, and have come to a point where you need help, this is a great opportunity for you.
You can read about this new service and contact Dr. Grossbart with questions by visiting our dermatillomania counseling page.
Until now, the communication with the counselor on our counseling program was email based. Meaning each bi-directional email between client and patient was regarded as a session.
As from this month, the primary method of communication with the counselor is Live Chat based. Meaning that you'll interact with the counselor in real time.
Each session lasts 60 minutes. The standard counseling program is comprised of 10 such sessions, with supplemental packages of 5 sessions to those who finished the main program and wish to continue.
For more info, click here.
Recently I had an email correspondence with Dr. Grossbart, whom I know since he agreed to give an interview on the topic of Dermatillomania for SkinPick.
He let me know that he recently written some blog posts on Psychology Today. I really appreciate Dr. Grossbart and his approach for the treatment of skin problems. You can find his blog here. Although he writes about treating skin problems in general, and not necessarily about Dermatillomania, he devotes major part of his practice to helping skin picking and trich patients.