Dermatillomania or excoriation (skin picking) disorder is not a very well known condition, primarily because the behaviours that manifests in this disorder are not often shared by people who engage in them. As a skin-picker you are often riddled with shame and guilt about your behaviour, covering up the ‘evidence’ to protect your closely guarded humiliating secret. Ironically the secrecy often isolates you from those you care about and, ironically, prevents you from receiving the much needed support and help you need to overcome it.
Online Test for Skin Picking
Find out the severity of your symptoms with this free online test
This short film (by Rhiannon Harris) called “She’s lost control” portrays just how lonely the shame of dermatillomania can be. In the film, a young beautiful girl is shown picking at sores (most likely created by her in the first place) until they bleed. She is disturbed by her mother knocking at the bathroom door asking her why she was taking so long.
The film is very graphic, but it captures the urgency with which skin-picking engulfs the person while they are engaging in it. It also shows the distress the girl experiences when she hears her mother knocking at the door. In the audio you hear a therapist asking her questions about her skin-picking. In her answers you can hear that she doesn’t know how this habit came about or why she continues to do it, but she is clear that she does not want her mother to find out. In the end though, her secret is revealed. The humiliation felt as a skin-picker is one of the greatest hurdles one needs to overcome in order to deal with the condition. The loneliness and shame can lead to self-loathing. It is only through sharing ones experiences and gaining support will the burden feel lighter to bear and life as a skin-picker will feel far less alone.