Excoriation Disorder, also known as Dermatilomania or compulsive skin picking disorder is a serious condition that is categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM5) as an Obessive-Compulsive and Related disorder (OCD-R). Sufferers compulsively pick at their skin until they cause damage to themselves. Stress and anxiety lead to an increase in picking and this compulsive behavior quickly becomes addictive. In her candid YouTube video about her struggle with the disorder, Lizzie, a 21 year old Dermatilomania sufferer from Newcastle, England opens up and explains this poorly understood disorder and its cause and offers tips for managing it. She admits that
this is a very hard video to make
For as long as Lizzie can remember, she has always picked her skin, specifically her hands, fingers, arms and legs. Picking can sometimes be a subconscious action; she has no inkling of her self harming and often does it in her sleep. At times when she is aware of her picking, she experiences feeling of guilt and embarrassment, especially when picking at her skin in public. Lizzie not only covers up the wounds that she inflicts but also covers herself while she is doing it, going as far as wearing long sleeves in public to camouflage her picking by sliding her hand under a sleeve. She hates that she is unable to fight her urge in public and is particularly worried about the reactions of strangers when they see her wounds. This worry is amplified as a student and at an age when fitting in is difficult especially when you’re different. She explains her skin picking as a form of release for her, usually after or during a stressful time or situation that causes her to feel anxious. While feelings of remorse are felt over her picking, she acknowledges that she cannot leave her wounds to heal; the compulsion to pick is too strong.
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Like most Dermatilomania sufferers, Lizzie is not satisfied until she bleeds, she is not able to let the wound heal and picks at the scab repetitively. People don’t understand the term “disorder” and tell her to “just stop doing it”, but it’s simply not that easy. It is an incredibly irresistible urge to pick at your skin to the point of causing wounds that eventually leave scars.
Lizzie’s tips for managing Dermatilomania: