Can skin picking lead to other addictions?
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.
Does it lead to other addictions?
Compulsive skin picking disorder involved excessive scratching, picking, gouging, spearing, burrowing and pressing of the skin on any part of the body. Most commonly picked are fingernails, face, lips, scalp, arms and legs. It can become so severe that it can cause permanent skin damage and the person hides from social activity due to the shame of their appearance caused by pickin. There have been links found of people with compulsive hair pulling disorder turning into drugs as a way for them to forget about their disorder, however medical researchers say it’s a myth that people who pick their skin are either using drugs or have used drugs before they started picking. The exact reasons and causes for skin picking disorder are obscure. Another important factor to consider when reading research into the links between disorders, is the important difference between correlation and causation. There may be a high correlation of those suffering with compulsive skin picking and other additctions like drugs and alcohol, but that does not mean that either one causes the other other.
So what is the link?
A correlational link simply suggests that 2 conditions commonly co-occur, not that they cause onset. However this information is still critical because it means helps us focus on research to identify the common factors between the 2 conditions that may be increasing or descreasing the likelihood of onset of these conditions. For example if it found that high levels of stress is common between both conditions, it stands to reason that reducing stress or building up resilience and healthy coping mechanisms toward high stress could reduce the onset or severity of these conditions.
The emotional connection
Excoriation disorder can bring about sentiment vulnerability, blame, disgrace, and embarrassment in people, and this incredibly builds the risk of self-harm. Studies have demonstrated that compulsive skin picking disorder exhibited suicidal ideation in 12% of people with this condition, suicide attempts in 11.5% of people with this condition, and psychiatric hospitalizations in 15% of people with this condition. Again this research does not indicate that skin picking causes suicide, but rather points to the that deeper emotional insecurities and the hugely negative impact of this under diagnosed condition. Social isolation is one of the biggest causes of depression and low self-worth. This in turn sets off a vicious cycle of further social withdrawal. For this reason, cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to have the most effective long term results in the treatment of compulsive skin picking and other psychoogical disorders.