Skin picking disorder may affect as many as 1 in 20 people. Although it occurs in both men and women, research suggests that skin picking disorder occurs much more often in women. Skin picking can begin in childhood or adulthood. Alhtough not classified as addicition, the irresistable urge to engage in skin picking can be as inhibiting as having an addiction. In the past, addiction used to refer just to psychoactive substances that cross the blood-brain barrier, incidentally modifying the chemical balance of the brain; this would incorporate alcohol, tobacco and some drugs. An extensive number of therapists, other health care professionals and lay people now demand that psychological dependency, as may be the case with gambling, sex, internet, work, exercise, etc. should also be considered as addictions, since they can also prompt to sentiments of guilt, shame, hopelessness, sadness, failure, rejection, anxiety as well as mortification.
Who is Blake Sullivan?
Blake Sullivan isn't a celebrity, but has achieved something that you admire far greater than any movie Holywood accolade. Why? Because you are here reading this article because compulsive skin picking is a harsh reality that you or someone you care about struggles with. Blake is also a writer for The Greatist and shared the journey of becoming pick free through the online magazine platform, sharing these tips for others who experience the same:
As the saying goes, “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” Denial is a large part of any psychological problem, and breaking through self-deception is usually very difficult. A number of compulsive skin picking sufferers have to reach a low point before they will accept that their skin picking is a serious problem in their life. This low point may be different for different people, and it could be as simple as realizing you are neglecting other hobbies, or as serious as social isolation and self-harm.
The advance of medical research for compulsive skin picking has played a major role in the discovering of new treatment options. However these options tend to be centred around the traditional psychological therapeutic modalities. Skin picking disorder has no known definitive cause and therefore treatment, and is so unique from person to person, we should consider alternative therapies as well. One such therapy is brain gym.
The term brain training or brain exercise reflects a hypothesis that cognitive abilities can be maintained or improved by exercising the brain, in analogy to the way physical fitness is improved by exercising the body. A straightforward arrangement of activities could help your brain work better, making you more keen, more astute – and significantly more confident. Brain Gym involves simple body developments which have been intended to coax the two sides of the brain to work in synchronization.
Many people pick at their skin once in a while, but sometimes it crosses the line into a condition called skin picking disorder (excoriation). Picking at the skin can become so frequent and intense that it causes bleeding, sores, and scars. Some people with this disorder repeatedly scratch to try to remove what they see as some kind of imperfection in their skin. If you compulsively pick your skin to the point that you hurt yourself in the process, hate the way your skin looks due to the skin picking, tried to stop picking your skin but can’t stop yourself, then this article is for you.
The importance of self-esteem should not be underestimated. It affects ones behaviour and thoughts. People with compulsive skin picking disorder often lack self-confidence because of the way they look after picking the skin. While there are treatment options that can help you with the skin picking, there are also products that can help improve how your skin looks. The good news is that there are scar treatments and skin-care technologies that can obliterate hyperpigmentation and retexturize skin to make scars a thing of the past.
Compulsive skin picking is not merely a harmless habit. From infections that can hurt your health to embarrassment about simply shaking hands, CSP has serious effects for those challenged by it. Typically, individuals with excoriation disorder find that the disorder interferes with daily life. Hindered by shame, embarrassment, and humiliation, they may take measures to hide their disorder by not leaving home, wearing long sleeves and pants even in heat, or covering visible damage to skin with bandages. Activities such as typing may be painful for those who pick at their fingers or hands, or walking for those who pick at the soles of their feet.
There are various options that one can opt for to try and let go of the cycle of picking their skin. Treatment options for skin picking such as Habit Reversal Training (HRT), This common treatment for excessive skin picking is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The therapist will work with you to identify the emotional and environmental triggers for your urge to pick, and teach you strategies for coping whith skin picking disorder. The goal is to learn to manage urges in a healthy way rather than pick on your skin.
A client once spoke about something called Vipassana Meditation, saying that she found it very helpful in managing her skin picking urges. We decided to research Vipassana and see if we could identify potential benefits for other skin pickers out there.
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. It is a balanced technique for refining the mind of the mental elements that cause distress and torment. It is a state of self-regulation of your attention and the ability to direct it towards breathing, eating, or something else. Curiosity, openness, and acceptance are all part of insight meditation.
We operate in a very medicalized model of health and wellness. This is partially the reason mental health has suffered such severe stigma for many, many years. We tend to discount the intangible, including the influence of the mind and our emotions on our well being. However for many people with compulsive skin picking disorder, the onset and continued struggle with the disorder is linked to their emotional and psychological health. While there may be neurological or physiological explanations and descriptions available for how the brain or body functions during times when the urge to pick is high, it still does not answer the why. Dr Joy Saville, a doctor with the Tibb Ibn Sina Institute believes that we need to look at wellness holistically in order to combat ill health. Dr Saville is passionate about health and wellness, and is particularly interested in the marriage btween ancient and modern systems of medicines. She has shared her insights with us in this guest blog:
If you are living with compulsive skin picking, you already know what a toll it takes – both physically and emotionally. A skin picking episode may be a focused response to anxiety or depression, but is also frequently done as an automatic habit. Those who live with dermatillomania know that the negative effects extend far beyond the physical.
Dermatillomania isn't as straightforward as popping a few pimples. There is an over the top nature behind the urge, which is the reason it's been categorized as an Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorder. There is a repetitive nature behind picking at your skin whether it's a conscious choice to place yourself before a mirror and 'pursue'; an action that starts without you noticing while you sit in front of the TV; or something you do while you rest. Skin picking turns into a disorder when you can't stop yourself at the time, can't control when you're doing it/how regularly you do it, and it influences your everyday living while affecting your self-esteem.