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midnightindigo , 13 May 2018

I Have Dermatillomania

I've had social anxiety since I was 13. I believe it started in part to the large school I was going to and also my developing acne. I suffered from panic attacks on the bus on the way to school as well as stomach aches caused by my anxiety. I retreated into myself and, looking back, it was very obvious. I stopped being friends with my best friend, I spent every weekend in my room dreading school and anything we had planned for the weekend, and I stopped spending time with my family. When I went to high school, a much smaller school, I got a lot better. I became more confident, my best friend and I reconnected, I made new friends, I got closer with my family, and more. While this was happening, though, my acne started getting worse. I went to a dermatologist and she gave me a treatment that started working. I don't know when I started picking at it, but I remember that one of the reasons that the treatment wasn't completely working was because I was picking at my face. I'm 17 now. A year ago, my picking got really bad and I tried everything to stop it. For a while, it actually stopped. But recently, it's started again. Just last week I picked two scabs on my face. They weren't even pimples, I was just picking at my skin. Even more recently, I've started picking at my scalp. I'm not even sure when it started but now it's become normal for me. I am constantly picking when I'm focusing on something, when I'm bored, when I'm watching a show, and most usually when I'm stressed. Tonight I decided to google why I pick at my scalp because it's gotten to be so bad and I came across Dermatillomania. Everything clicked. For as long as I can remember I've been picking my lips. I'm relieved to know that I'm not the only person who picks at their skin, especially their scalp, but I'm worried because I also looked up pictures of people who pick at their scalp and I saw how bad it can get and I don't want to get that bad. While I was reading other forums, I got stressed and caught myself picking my scalp. I need help. How do I stop picking at my skin and my scalp?

5 Answers
May 14, 2018

That is one hell of a loaded question you are asking. Figuring out that you suffer with the disorder is one thing, but treatment is a whole other ball game. Why don't you read a good amount of posts on this site and understand the level of suffering people go through. Trying to quit is not easy and there is no one remedy. It can take years just to get better. Not sure how many are able to fully quit. I hear it's a low percentage. There is no simple response to how anyone can beat this disorder. But you caught it early and I would suggest limiting yourself in your behavior as much as you can so that it doesn't get worse over time. Start monitoring it now and keep setting limits for yourself. Don't allow the condition to get a head start. What I'm telling you is basically advice that I wish someone told me when I was your age. Become not allow the emotions to derail you into dissociative spells of picking. Practice self care, create a self care regime and follow it with rigid vigor. The self care is important as it conditions you to value yourself... flaws and all. The more you are able to internalize your self worth, the more control you can have over the condition. Also it might be beneficial if you can find a therapist who is knowledgeable about this disorder. Not many of them are aware of it, so you might need to ask around. Such disorders are usually chronic and need a whole lifestyle approach instead of a quick fix. The quick fixes often don't work, even if you try them multiple times. It's more of a daily mantra mentality that will yield slow and gradual results. If you treat the disorder as an addiction, it will be easier to have compassion for yourself. To be able to observe the urges and compulsions for what they are instead of blaming yourself and feeling guilt.

January 10, 2019

Serene, I've noticed that you are very active on this site . How long have u been using it?

March 02, 2019

A couple of years, probably around 2 or 3. Been active on here because I have hope that one day I will be able to beat this disorder, just like I was able to beat many others forms of OCD and a chronic nail biting habit. Posting on here makes me feel less alone in my struggles.

March 03, 2019

I’m a lip picker too and have been reading a lot about treatment for dermatillomania. It appears first line treatment is an SSRI
medication like fluoxetine as well as cognitive behavioral therapy. If that doesn’t help, there are other medications like Namenda, topamax, or Inspirons have been effective in some studies. I’ve been on Lexapro, primarily for depression and anxiety, without any change in behavior. I’m considering Namenda or Maybe buspirone next. I’ll let you know how it works.

March 03, 2019

What worked for me was Seroquel, which is an antipsychotic. It was effective to the point where I forgot what it feels like to have a picking compulsion. The medication also eliminated my breakouts...which makes me wonder about a possible stress/cortisol effect on inflammation and acne. And even when I did get a pimple, I felt no desire to do anything about it. The drastic difference in compulsions after I stopped the meds was upsetting, but I am too afraid of side effects and future complications from the medication.

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