Beware the Treatment Scams!

Tasneem Abrahams
Feb 16th, 2015

Online test

Find out the severity of your symptoms with this free online test


Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP) Disorder or excoriation disorder is a very lonely condition. Most people who have CSP are not even aware that they have a medically recognized clinical condition. The shame and embarrasment that is often characteristic of this disorder results in most sufferers going undiagnosed and without help or support for many years, feeling alone and increasingly desperate for relief from this all encompassing 'habit'. Personal desperation to stop picking combined with a lack of awareness about the condition among health professionals, makes people with skin picking disorder and other body-focussed repetitive behaviours (BFRBs) vulnerable to the myriad of scam artists in the world.

In today's technological world, the first point of information or support is via the internet. The anonymity, immediacy and 24/7 accessibility of the internet means that we often turn to internet searches for answers. Scam artists recognize who vulnerable groups on the world wide web are and prey on the people's hopes or dreams to lure their victims in. Treatment scams for a variety of conditions are rife on the web, and BFRBs like skin picking disorder are no exception. Products marketed as miracle cures or guarenteed results often flood internet results when you search for treatment for dermatillomania on the internet. While there are many reputable, legitimate treatment products and service providers, there are also many who are only looking to have you part with your hard earned cash. Whether the product is medicine, a book or a supplement, it is important to make an informed decision when opting to try a treatment advertised on the web, as there is also the risk that the products can cause more harm than good.

So what can you do?

Know the seller

Always dig deeper to find out more about the seller. Do they provide legitimate contact information, like an address or telephone number? Do they have a track record? It is always a good idea to look into the seller's history and reviews. Just becuase a product or service has negative reviews does not mean they are not legitimate, but it may enable you to weigh up the risks versus rewards of trying the treatment product.

Talk to your health provider

It is always a good idea to consult your doctor about the product that you found online. If the product is legitimate, ask about the possible risks that you might encounter. This is especially important if you are already using prescribed pharmacological treatment as some products may clash with the medication you are already taking.

Be wary of some selling words

Some sellers use the words “cure” and “100% guarantee” to help them sell their products. But you need to understand that while BFRBs like skin picking disorder are managable, there is no cure. This is not to say that there is no hope, for indeed there are many sufferers who manage the condition very well for many years without picking, but this needs work and there is no quick fix.

Be wary of exaggerated testimonials

While good reviews and testimonials are generally a good sign, it is important to be wary of exaggerated testimonials as these can sometimes be fabricated.

Endorsements from leaders in the field

Long standing support and development communities such as the Trichotillomania Learning Centre (TLC) are good sources of advice if you have any doubt about a particular treatment offering.

Supporting Research

Sellers who make sweeping statements and wild claims should provide evidence. Good treatment programmes are grounded in research.

Not all bad

But do not despair! Scam treatments aside, you can still find treatment for your compulsive skin picking online. There are reputable websites and reliable products that help with this condition. You can go to a BFRB community like Canadian Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors Support Network (CBSN) or the previously mentioned TLC to verify the information you found online. The members of these communities have the same challenges and can provide valuable insights and advice about treaments they have tried, what has worked and what hasn't. When looking for answers online, you must not assume that the top results are credible. It’s highly likely that you’re only viewing the most popular result and not the best one. Treatment scams online can be avoided by being Internet savvy; and remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Tasneem Abrahams

Tasneem is an Occupational Therapist, and a graduate of the TLC foundation for BFRBs professional training institute. Her experience in mental health includes working at Lentegeur Psychiatric hospital forensic unit (South Africa), Kingston Community Adult Learning Disability team (UK), Clinical Specialist for the Oasis Project Spelthorne Community Mental Health team (UK). Tasneem is a member of both the editorial team and the clinical staff on Skinpick, providing online therapy for people who suffer from excoriation (skin picking) disorder.

Online test

Find out the severity of your symptoms with this free online test


Start your journey with SkinPick

Take control of your life and find freedom from skin picking through professional therapy and evidence-based behavioral techniques.

Start Now