QUESTION: I'm a sixteen year old who has been picking at my acne ever since I can remember. I pop any pimple or black head I feel or see until it bleeds, and then usually end up picking off the scab that forms on it. I pick at the skin on my lips with my teeth or fingers when it gets chapped, too, as well as picking bumps on my back occasionally. I'm really too nervous to talk to my parents about it because a lot is going on because my mom has just had surgery. I can't tell if what I do is dermatillomania or whether I'm just a whiney teenager with mild acne. Could you please tell me if I need to seek help, and if so where to go? Thank you so much!
ANSWER: I think it is important to get help. You can start with sites like this one, trich.org, and grossbart.com to get support and information. Then you need to approach your parents and let them know that this is really bothering you and put your heads together on how to get help. This site and trich.org have list of local therapists who know the problem. If there is no one local treatment is available by phone or Skype.
Ted A. Grossbart, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA