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erinlaine , 05 Aug 2011

Treatment for scars from dermatillomania, skin picking

I have had dermatillomania since i was a child...i'm in my late 30's now...over the years it has worsened to the point that i am EXTREMELY embarrassed and have horrible social anxiety..i can't wear short sleaves or shorts....and, heaven forbid, a swimsuit...i will pick at a hair follicle over and over until it becomes quarter sized and infected...i have had staph infections on several husband is very supportive, but, it becomes an issue because i feel so unattractive..and he worries about my health...i just "zone" out when i start picking and can spend hours and hours doing it...all over my legs and arms....i also enjoy the pain...i want to stop desperately...but, even if i can achieve that, my skin doesn't heal as quickly as it used to and i have horrible scars...does anyone out there have any advice about treatments, medications or otherwise for this...i have many, many sad, erinlaine
27 Answers
August 09, 2011
I don't have any advice except to stay out of the sun because it really does make it worse. I know lemon juice will iighten small spots sometimes but not always at least not for me. I'm 20 almost 21 and I notice that my skin is slowing down too compared to how fast it used to heal a couple years ago. We just have to stop least your husband is supportive of you that's a light in the darkness at least. By the way- I never wear short sleeves too and I have bad social anxiety as armsa re to the point where the skin on the outer side of my arm (the part you see) is compltely covered in spots of all diff sizes from my elbow to my shoulder blade. It's disgusting.
August 14, 2011
I've recently started using cocoa butter (specifically Palmers brand) on my skin. I've only been using it a few days but it's already done wonders to make my skin feel really nice and to look a little healthier- it's not as dry and rough and scabbed looking. It softens up scabs and makes them go away quicker. I haven't used it long enough to know about scars, but from all the reviews I read, it helps scars a lot. Plus it smells really good :)
August 15, 2011
Hi erinlaine-- I'm so sorry to hear about your struggle, but I can totally relate--as everyone here can, too. I have one place in particular that I have picked at for so long that I have created a very ugly, visible hypertrophic scar. It is very visible--so much so that I frequently have people ask me what happened to me. It is amazing how insensitve people can be. You are fortunate to have a husband who supports you on this issue. I have a wonderful husband, but his method of dealing with my problem is to just ignore it. He has never mentioned any concern for my habit. Not once. It is a lonely disorder. As for your scars, I have employed the help of my dermatologist. Over-the-counter remedies can help some, but they usually provide only minimal improvement to a serious, long-term scar. My dr. is injecting my scars with a cortisone solution to help shrink some of the swelling. This has worked fairly well, but I may still ultimately need some type of plastic surgery to really keep my face/neck scars from being so very noticeable. I have accepted that I will always have these little reminders of my neurosis, but I am hoping I can get them to a point where people will stop staring and asking rude questions. Please see a good dermatologist about your scars, and in the meantime, try using those silicone patches you can find in drugstores. The longer you can keep them on, the better. They will help keep your scars soft and flatten, as scars tend to raise up when they get hard. I've tried the generic CVS ones, but they don't work as well for me as the Dr. Blaine's clear, self-stick, reusable patches. Hope this helps you some. Good luck!
October 09, 2012
I am only 14, and already my skin has extremley visible scars, to the point that I pull myself out of all social situations due to my anxiety. I cannot wear swimsuits and it has been 3 years that I have been picking for and I just dont know what to do. It has caused me to become extremley self conscious and depressed. I know other people suffer but I just dont know how long I can continue. I am sick of disappointing my family and I have lost all my friends because I never go out. I am only 14 and have tried so many ways to stop but I cant continue to live like this and in reality I cant see a future.
October 10, 2012

In reply to by Leahmaree967

Hey there darl, My heart goes out to you I I've struggled with this for 10years along side other health issues. I have no answers and I'm sick of the doctors and their lack of understanding. I'm unsure what to do. All I can say is study and research and look at underlying health or emotional problems that can play a big part. May we all find a relief to this.
October 10, 2012
I can't believe that I read your artical. Wow I have had other health problems and still do. But the picking that goes with it is truely a problem I'm so relieved to hear others have similar stories. I struggle that I will be able to stop. I so pray I could. And I so understand the scaring the the way in which it makes you feel and dress. What can we do. Its so very hard. I agree with all the erinlaine has said. Can anyone help!!!! Finally
November 17, 2012
I've had this issue for as long as I can remember, but it keeps getting worse and worse. I'm 16 and my arms have the most scarring, but my legs and even my breasts have some too. Sometimes the scarring is less noticeable during the year, such as during the summer, but during the winter I tend to pick more and therefore I cover up more. Over all, it has limited my life and made me extremely self conscious. My parents and family have always known about it, but most of my friends don't. I've always been extremely embarrassed when people ask me about it, I just don't know what to tell them. It's a struggle for me during school and especially during sports because I have to wear a sleeveless jersey and shorts. I'm just so terrified of people asking me or judging me. It also scares me in the social sense. I have plenty of friends, but sometimes I just feel so alone. I don't know any one else who has this issue. I'm also worried that it will affect my ability to find someone special. I've had a boyfriend before, but he never asked about the scarring. I feel like it's such an uncommon thing, I don't know how to address it to others. I know my issues with picking stem from stress. I've always had high standards for myself in school, and particularly this year I am taking a number of AP and Honors classes. On top of that, my parents are in an on-going process of getting divorced, which started when they split up about 3 years ago. I tend to take on the needs of others before myself, I enjoy helping people with their problems, but so much so that I think I forget about myself. Picking helps me overcome the stress and generally makes me "zone out". But I know it's unhealthy, and it has taken a toll on my self esteem. I have stopped off and on before, but it just keeps coming back to haunt me. I've tried various skin treatments, such as Mederma, but it's expensive. I've found that simply using lotion all over my body before I go to bed can improve my skin. Also, eating right and ESPECIALLY exercise seems to work wonders. I'm not extremely athletic, but I'm 5'9 and fairly lean. I've noticed that I get the same feeling of release and calmness after a good workout as I do after picking. I had no idea that this was actually classified as a disorder/disease, I thought it was just something that I had alone. It's extremely comforting to know that I'm not alone. You are all wonderful and beautiful people, please know that you are not alone, and that I am sending good thoughts your way. I'm so young and so terrified that this will take over my life, but I won't let it, I will stay strong. Thank you so much <3 .
March 13, 2013
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May 06, 2013
Keep your husband by the sounds of it he is really nice and supportive thats awsome. I am 15 years old and girls my age are going out with their friends and hanging out with their boyfriends. I on the other hand constantly cover up in long sleeve shirts and long pants. While my friends are deciding what strapless, short dress to wear to the party. I'm deciding what I'm going to do sitting at home all day hiding from everyone. I have to stop picking and I will stop picking!
August 24, 2013
Hi erinlaine..... I am also a picker a very bad one, my face, legs, arms back and even my bottom. anywho i just wanted to send out a cyber hug and to say that if you ever need a friend to chat with i am here. I also ZONE OUT like completely.... and i am also on a mission to find a cream or anything to try and make my scars appear smaller or less noticable.... Thanks so much for your blog....((( hugs)))
April 05, 2014
Hi, I've been picking my skin since I was ten years old, I'm now 45 and still picking and have terrible scars all up and down my forearms that are embarrasing, people ask me what I've done to my arms. I was molested as a child at the age of ten and I'm wandering could that have caused the disorder?, because I only started picking after that had happened I also want to know how do I fix up my skin, my arms look awful?
April 16, 2014
I have been sitting here reading these blogs and find myself totally amazed! There is a name for this and I am not alone! I am a 60 yr old woman who has picked all my life. I started with mosquito bites, then acne and now just everything! My arms and legs are totally scarred from picking, I hate to expose them. Now I have been after my face. I only pick at scabs, not my skin, I hate the feeling of a scab on my skin. Even though it hurts I have the compulsion to remove that scab. It must be gone! Doesn't matter that I am making it worse. My daughter slaps my hands and makes a big stink when I do it. As a few people have said it gives me a emotional high and I also zone out when doing it. I too wish I could stop disfiguring my body. I have considered counselling, but I live in a very small town, the counsellors are related to almost everyone. Anyway I am sorry you are doing this, I wish you could stop, as I wish I could stop too. I am getting married soon and would hate to be all scarred on my face, BUT I can't stop. ....
May 12, 2014
As a picker for over a decade, I used to only wear sweaters, even in the summer, to hide the wounds and scars. A few years ago after my mom died I said to hell with what anyone thinks and now I wear whatever I want. Not for everyone obviously, and I'm still picking but getting therapy now that's helping. I'm having good luck with Zoloft. About scars fading and healing sore, triple antibiotic ointment or Neosporin is your best bet for healing open sores, I use it a lot but be careful to use it every other day at most, I found I was resisting it after slathering it ALL OVER all the time. For quick healing if you have a night when you can get more than 8 hours of sleep, I slather on the Neosporin and wrap my arms in plastic wrap (don't do this if it's on your face please. Just saying.) and a lot of it heals much faster than usual! :) For fading scars, all my research and experience shows that moist skin heals the scarring faster, so I use coconut oil, body butters, olive oil, tea tree oil, oils are great in general, just a pain for every day use since your stuff gets oily. It makes a serious difference though. While a sore is open you want it to heal infection free so Neosporin it. ONCE IT'S HEALED use oils, scar treatments, lotions and fade creams. Sometimes I feel like covering the scars as best I can but I'm cheap and don't want to buy expensive makeup, so I buy tinted moisturizers and put some on, let it sink in and put a couple more layers on. It doesn't conceal it, but it makes it less noticeable. Hope this helps :)
June 14, 2014
Hydroquinone 4% combined with tretinoin 0.05% every night. The only thing that works for dark marks. PERIOD. I've tried everything and have extremely stubborn skin.
August 28, 2014
Hi, I'm Mary, I'm 14, and my skin picking started from an early age when I would pick scabs on my knees which seemed to heal but then it progressed and having kp on my arms didn't help, I don't show my arms, hands, or legs in public and I've tried soooo many things to try and reduce the colour of scarring, also due to not any sun on my arms, I have very dark hairs and they have become red and ugly, I hate p.e lessons at school because all the other girls wear skirts and t shirts and I'm stuck with a hoodie and leggings, and I hide In the toilets to get changed, even on the hottest days of the year, I wear jumpers, and when people ask me if I'm hot, I just reply "no" even though I'm sweltering. Recently I picked up my courage and went to a water park for the first time in 4 years with my cousins, even with my pale, scarred skin and I tried to have fun but felt like everyone was staring at me, which they were. I broke down completely and swore never to show my arms in public again, it ruined my confidence and now I'm really shy and awkward in public. One day I forgot my hoodie to a pe lesson and had to wear a tshirt. No one laughed, no one really stared, but no one, even my closed friends talk to me, the whole lesson, which made me feel like an outcast. I need help, I have been suffering from a kind of depression that I will never lift until my arms and legs are healed.
August 29, 2014
Has anyone tried Bio Oil for scars? It's good and smells nice :)
May 27, 2015

i have had dermatillomania for about three years and it has ravaged my legs, i look like i have a plague. i was prescribed something called "medimix," i think, which has helped speed up the process of healing my scars: it's a blend of many different substances. However, it does take a while to work and it cannot be used to open "wounds," per se: stuff STINGS, but I think it's worth it. I've also heard good things about aloe products. Wearing sunscreen outside will help them not get worse. There are also makeups that can be used for the body (as opposed to just the face).

June 03, 2015

I am also tired of this running my life. I have found great ways to heal my skin, but I can't get my self to stop picking. I am going to start therapy. Practicing mindfulness seems to be the way towards success.

As far as treatments for healing I would have to recommend LUSH products. I work at a Lush Cosmetics, and started playing around with different products. I use general calamine lotion to help sooth and calm and places I just picked, and then sometimes I will rub coconut oil all over my body so it is harder to pick, and it helps prevent infection. These are the Lush products I will recommend though. These are my top important Products and then I listed others that might help as well.

You Snap the Whip: In shower body butter with charcoal. Great for body acne and arms with KP. Charcoal draws toxins out of the body.
King of Skin: In shower body butter with banana and avocado. This is a product rich with nutrients that has helped heal my scaring and lesson my KP.
Lovely Jubilees: Breast Cream. Has helped tone, and heal my scars.
Dream Cream: Lotion. The oatmilk and lavender helps sooth redness and dryness.
Vanilla D Lite: Lotion. A light lotion that has lemon in it, and has helped heal my scars.
Tender is the Night: Massage bar that has MuruMuru a vitamin E rich butter. All the massage bars are great, but this one takes the cake for healing scars.

Herbalism: Clay based cleanser that helped with my acne prone skin.
Fresh Farmacy: Soap based cleanser to reduce redness, and shrink my pores.
9 to 5: Lotion Based cleanser that removes my makeup and heals my scabs.
Skin Shangri La: Face moisturizer that is really rich and has helped heal my skin.
Vanishing Cream: Face moisturize that is light and helps with scaring, shrinking my pores and clearing blemishes.
Grease Lightning: Spot treatment. I use this all over my face at night if I have a bad break out and wake up with clear skin. Or I use it as a primer.
Full of Grace: Serum bar with antioxidants and vitamin E. This thing soothes my skin if I was just picking at it, helps healing my scars and even made my eyes look younger.

Other nice products:
Ocean Salt: Face and Body Scrub. Has lime for brightening dark scars, and salt to exfoliate.
Bubbleroons: Rose Jam, Green, and Yuzo and Cocao are great bubble baths that calm the skin after an intense picking session.
Dark Angels: Face wash that has coal and helps draw toxins out of the skin.

June 12, 2015

I just started an account. I think shame is destroying me more than anything...I just need a safe place where people really get it. Where I can tell the truth about what I do to my skin...I have absolutely no idea why. I get no pleasure from it...the impulse is overpowering and I can't stop. I'm in my forties. My face began breaking out at 13 and never really stopped completely. I didn't develop dermatillomania until my thirties. I only go after clogged pores or breakouts (i don't create my wounds from scratch)...type "b" I think? Earlier I could camouflage with makeup, but lately I've developed something like cysts, which run in my family...a skin sloughing disorder? So for about two years my life has become smaller and smaller. I keep trying to remove the problem, but the problem is now much further into the skin and I tell myself I have to get it all to clear it out. Sorry, gross, not puss, more like chunks of keratin. Today what I thought was a minor bit of unhealed acne....hours later and I've made myself sick to my stomach, the gaping round hole in my cheek. Too horrified to tell anyone, get help, call a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. I literally can't. My efforts before are met with a complete lack of understanding...the medical community is still so clueless about this. With smaller wounds I've gone to urgent care, gotten a lecture and antibiotics. I have antibiotics that I ordered overseas so I started those. But the scar and the healing process and the ongoing feeling of needing to fix the damage. Overwhelmed. I'm so lucky that I have a supportive husband that worries, so I'm hiding this expertly. I don't go out. My social life is my cats. This is truly destroying me. There is no help in my town. I'm only hoping this doesn't get infected (two, both deep and wide). I can't "face" another dermatologist...the shame would push me over the edge. I think i may end up needing medical intervention to help with the wounds but I can't get help with a bag over my head. Does anyone know of a dermatologist anywhere who is truly, truly kind and can just address the physical, while I obvioysly need to address the compulsion. A comprehensive clinic anywhere? Willing to travel!

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