What causes compulsive skin picking?
Human behavior is complicated. Why people do certain things is often unclear. People engage in certain behaviors that may be detrimental to themselves in some way. One such known problem is that of skin picking. Picking at skin is a isn't neccesarily an abnormal behavior. Many people will idly pick at their skin now and then. However, this issue can cause problems for people when it becomes a compulsion they cannot resist even if it is harming their skin. A person may have a compulsion to pick at their skin in a way that can cause all kinds of pain, impede healing and leave serious and disfiguring scars. People can pick at their skin even when it means picking at an existing scar that has already healed over. This kind of disorder known as a body focused repetitive disorder or, more specifically, an excoriation disorder that has a specific meaning. In our present society, research and knowledge about body focused repetitive behaviors such as excoriation disorder has only recently advanced. Much work has been done so far to help determine the source of the problem and assist those suffering from it to avoid such injurious behavior that may cause serious harm.
Foundations Advocating For Patients
Those seeking relief for this issue can be reassured that there are key advocates in the field that are working on their behalf. The TLC Foundation for BFRBs (formerly TLC) is a Santa Cruz, California based organization that aims to help provide treatment and support for those facing this issue. The Foundation offers many important resources that those with this illness can turn to so they can get the ideal help as they attempt to find a means to cope with it and even stop picking at their skin. Many other foundations around the world also exist to help locals find relief without shame. Canadians who need help with this issue can also turn to their own homegrown support group called the Canadian BFRB support network. The BFRB support network helps people in Canada find resources for their needs in all parts of Canada.
Researchers In This Field
Fortunately there has also been an increased attention from researchers looking to help them find help for this condition without feeling shame. Dr. Fred Penzel and Dr John Grant are two of the most renowned researchers who have done much to offer assistance for all those who need it. Dr. Fred Penzel is an American researcher with a long history of original publication and useful research in this area. He has helped treat patients with this disorder and other kinds of related disorders for many years. Dr. Penzel is one of the founding members of the International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Foundation (IOCDF). Dr. Grant is worldwide expert in this field who has done much to help explain why people feel this compulsion. His work has received many grants from various governmental agencies seeking to provide treatment for skin picking disorders.
What Causes It
While we don't know what causes this problem, there are many theories about why people choose to engage in this behavior. Some people believe it may happen as a result of stress. When people are stressed out, they may resort to comforting behaviors. Adolescence can be a time of serious change in a person's life and cause people to feel stressed out. Researchers know that the majority of those who engage in this behavior are female and often begin picking at their skin in early adolescence. Those who engage in this type of behavior may also engage in other highly negative behaviors such as pulling out hairs or pulling out their nails. Those who have excoriation disorder may also have other kinds of mental disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder or autism that can also impede their ability to function on a day to day basis. Some people see the disorder as part of a broader disorder of this kind that may indicate a need for serious assistance. Many others view it as more akin to problems such as substance abuse where the sufferer turns to a private outlet to relieve pain and help them relax in the face of a problem they are confronting in life. Picking at the skin can feel like a form of control over their body and be similar to the kind of control that anorexics attempt to exert by refusing to eat. Picking can also be a genetic tendency that is inherited from a parent or another close relative.
Still Much to Be Learned
Skin picking is found in many societies all over the globe. Picking at skin in a way that is not considered normal is an action that has been documented in societies all over the world for many years. Many societies have noted that some members will engage in this behavior and hide the results from others. Fortunately for those who are facing this issue today, they can be assured that treatments and help are being developed right now. This behavior is often concealed as sufferers find it highly embarrassing that they have done this activity. People who pick at their skin may avoid interacting with others who may see what they have done to their bodies. They may also avoid engaging in activities they might otherwise find pleasurable such as sports or trips to new places.
Modern Treatment Methods
Today, modern treatment methods exist that can help those with this problem successfully confront it and move past it. It is important to find a specialist who understands this field well. A specialist can help provide patients with specialized treatment methods that are designed for their specific needs. Many specialists in this field aim to address the underlying cause of the issue such as self esteem issue or problems with substance abuse that may be present in addition to problems with skin picking. A specialist will help identify this issue and look at a patient's overall medical history in great depth. The doctor will often ask the patient to consider factors that are contributing to their overall problems. In many cases, patients are happy to find that a specialist will also refer them to additional resources that they can turn to for help such as psychiatrists who can provide an overall treatment plan. Medications may be prescribed that help a patient deal more effectively with their urges and avoid picking their skin at all. Research continues in this area at the present time. Those who work with patients are hopeful that it will be possible to help their patients even more in the future as new methods for treatment continue.