Compulsive skin picking (CSP) is an impulse control disorder. It compels people to damage their skin by picking at it repetitively. If you live with this challenging condition, you know exactly the kind of raw and painful toll it takes – both physically and emotionally. Also known by the tongue-twisting name dermatillomania, this form of self-mutilation affects as many as 1 in 20 people. Those who live with dermatillomania know that the negative effects extend far beyond the physical. They often have to limit or alter their daily activities. For example, someone who picks at their arms may wear long sleeves in the summer to hide fresh self-inflicted wounds or scabs. Someone who compulsively aggravates the skin around their fingers may avoid shaking hands or even resort to wearing gloves when around others. The compulsive picking may also cause physical pain or discomfort that also limits activities. For example, someone whose fingertips are raw from constant picking may find writing or typing too painful. However the most painful thing that dermatillomania suffers go through on a daily base is the guilt and shame.
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It isolates you
Many skin pickers report to having to limit or alter their daily activities often. Many people who pick, have skin that is damaged, that they become ashamed of the appearance of their skin and of their behavior. So they tend to stay away from activities where the affected parts of their skin will be seen by others. For example many skin pickers say they never go swimming or even go to the beach because of the fear that others will see the marks on their arms of legs. Where they have to go out such as for work or school they tend to wear long sleeves in the summer to hide fresh self-inflicted wounds or scabs. Someone who compulsively aggravates the skin around their fingers may avoid shaking or holding hands with someone or even resort to wearing gloves when around others. The compulsive picking may also cause physical pain and discomfort that can limit ones day to day activities.
It steals your time and your productivity
When the urge to pick kicks in it is very difficult for the person to focus on anything else. This internal distraction can reduce your ability to concentrate and work or a school with many sufferers reporting that it is affecting their productivity and effectives in important tasks. Skin picking is triggered in different people by different environments and therefore tend to pick most frequently at different times. For those who tend to pick in the mornings when they are getting ready for work, this can often be the cause of being late. Some people report spending hours in the morning getting ready, not only because they had been picking for hours, but also because of the time it takes to conceal any pick marks before facing other people.
For those who tend to experience the urge to pick when out and about report feeling such an insatiable urge to pick that they find themselves often excusing themselves from company to go to the restrooms just to pick. Others pick at night before they go to bed when, triggered by their nigh time routine looking in the mirror and pick until pores ooze and skin is puffy and red.