People suffering from compulsive skin picking may pick at normal skin variations such as freckles and moles, at pre-existing skin defects such as scabs, sores or acne blemishes, or in some cases imagined skin defects that are not actually visible by others. Individuals with compulsive skin picking not only use their fingernails to pick and scratch but may also use their teeth and/or other instruments such as tweezers, blades and pins. The compulsion to scratch, pick or peel pimples is called acne excorié and could be considered a subtype of compulsive skin picking. Although any part of the body may be attacked, often the face is the targeted area.
In many sufferers of compulsive skin picking, skin picking is preceded or accompanied by a high level of tension, anxiety or stress and a strong urge to itch or scratch. Often certain events or situations trigger skin-picking episodes. For some, the act of skin picking provides a feeling of relief or pleasure. Skin-picking episodes can be a conscious/ focussed response to anxiety or may be done as an unconscious / automatic response to external stimuli.
Anxiety is one of the many triggers for skin picking. Everyone will experience anxiety from time to time. The demands and stress of life may even make experiencing anxiety more frequent. So it can be tough to tell the difference between everyday anxiety and a clinical anxiety disorder. If anxiety is affecting you or someone you know, it’s important to learn the difference.
It depends on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:
Skin Picking is very common in the general population but has received limited research attention therefore the onset of the disorder still remains a mystery. It is viewed as a chronic condition which is often associated with high levels of psychological distress. People who suffer from it repetitively touch, rub, scratch, pick at or dig into their skin. Repetitive skin picking appears to be a way for some people to increase their activity levels when they are bored, or to control their emotions when they are feeling anxious, tense, or upset. The fact that some individuals can actually regulate their emotions by picking their skin maybe why they develop this problem in the first place.
Therapy can help you handle emotions from problems or stressors, even if they aren't dramatically life-altering or traumatic. Therapy is well-known for its problem-solving techniques and reputation as a tool for overcoming anxiety, depression and addiction. This article summarizes the therapy process as it was formed and structured by Dr. Vinod, one of the first members of our counselling team when our online therapy program was first launched.
In the process of decision making, two parts of us having opposite views surface in our conscious mind and get into a dialogue. Successful therapy requires a resolve of the conscious mind to fully engage in the counselling process.
It is not uncommon for people to subconsciously rub, touch, or scratch at their skin, just as it is a common practice for many people to pick at skin imperfections such as acne or blackheads. However, for some, this practice becomes so consuming that it is classified as a skin picking disorder known as excoriation disorder or dermatillomania. Picking your skin becomes problematic when the picking is repetitive and it becomes difficult for the person to voluntarily stop engaging in the behaviour, and impacts negatively on daily functioning. This poorly understood problem often goes undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
While body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as excoriation disorder are gaining increased awareness, our knowledge about the disorder is still in its infancy. For example, even though research has found evidence of some plausible causes for compulsive skin picking, there is still no known single definitive cause. Some evidence points to hormonal imbalances, some indicates the cause is neurobiological, while genetic correlation also holds merit. While we cannot change our genetic make-up, we certainly can influence our neurobiological processes and our hormone levels through diet. Could what we eat and drink therefore aggravate the urge to pick, or even place us at higher risk for developing a skin picking disorder in the first place?
Body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) is an umbrella name for compulsive behaviors involving repetitively acting on one's own body, often causing physical injury. The main BFRB disorders are:
Trichotillomania, hair pulling
Trichophagia, hair nibbling
Trichotemnomania, hair cutting
Dermatillomania, skin picking
Dermatophagia, skin nibbling
Onychotillomania, nail picking
Onychophagia, nail biting
Morsicatio Buccarum, cheek biting
Morsicatio Labiorum, inner lip biting
Morsicatio Linguarum, tongue biting
TLC's Annual Conference on Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors is the only event of its kind in the world. The world's top BFRB experts, community leaders and changemakers will guide nearly 500 of us -- individuals, families, and treatment providers -- through a weekend of education, inspiration, support, and most importantly, healing.
The TLC Conference will be held April 21-23, 2017. Sessions begin Friday afternoon, then break for dinner, and the opening welcome session begins Friday evening. The closing session ends at noon on Sunday.
This is a post by Danielle Kunkle - the co-owner of Boomer Benefits, a licensed insurance agency that helps Baby Boomers navigate their entry into Medicare.
For decades, seniors in the United States had little access to affordable healthcare after they retired. The creation of Medicare in 1965 was a monumental step toward caring for older adults during their later years. Today millions of people depend on Medicare to provide their physical and mental healthcare during their golden years.
The World Health Organization website reported that over 20% of adults age 60 and older suffer from a mental or neurological disorder. Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBS) are one such disorder.
BFRB disorders such as nail-biting, picking one’s skin or pulling one’s hair are harmful and can quickly progress into clinical conditions. Caregivers who are looking after an elderly loved one often notice disorders like skin picking and should immediately bring them to a doctor’s attention so that appropriate care can be found.
Access to behavioral therapy is important in dealing with BFRBs and all other mental health disorders as well. Fortunately, Medicare does recognize the need for mental healthcare as we age and provides coverage for inpatient and outpatient services as well as medications.
Skin picking may start with something mild and harmless but if not treated early it can escalate into a serious clinical condition. When it starts affecting a person’s physical health and/or emotional well-being, it means professional help is needed. There are many therapies and medications that can be used depending on the severity of the condition.
Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself. Meditation exercises are closely linked to mindfulness and are recommended to help cope with stress related to skin picking. These exercises keep the mind and body healthy. They enable patients to keep busy and replace skin picking with something more positive. Exercise can reduce anxiety and depression. It minimizes skeletal muscle tension and increases metabolism of excess adrenaline and thyroxin in the blood. It even acts as an anti-depressant.
The severity of skin picking differs for everyone. For some it can be so severe that is causes severe scarring and sometimes even infection. This causes great distress for the individual and a question or concern that often comes up is - can skin picking lead to more serious skin conditions like cancer?