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A Look at Medication used to Treat Skin Picking

written by: LDP • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 11/27/2010

Getting the right skin picking medication to help relieve the urge to pick your skin may be difficult. The problem lies with the fact that not all of the medical community is up to snuff about chronic skin picking. Treatment is available you just have to find the right doctor.

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    Dermotillomania is also known as skin picking disorder as well as being referred to as an obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder. Therefore the same types of treatment for various obsessive compulsive disorders are also used for those with dermotillomania.

    However, since research into this disorder is in its relative infancy not every skin picking treatment method will work for each patient. Many doctors, especially your primary care physician may not even know about this disorder and their knowledge of skin picking medication could be limited.

    Most prescribed medications for compulsive skin picking are SSRIs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, and Effexor. Other research has found that anti-seizure types of medications can also be beneficial.

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    How Medicine for Chronic Skin Picking is Beneficial

    Skin picking medications along with cognitive behavioral therapy and habit reversal therapy can be a very beneficial combination to the skin picker. It is important to find a way to stop this destructive condition because it can lead to possible surgeries, infections, increased anxiety and severe depression if left untreated. Most skin pickers often feel shame and guilt after picking at their skin; with the right treatment regimen the person can implement ways to stop picking at the skin and find comfort.

    With CBT and HRT the therapist can help a person with the skin picking disorder to learn what may be causing their compulsion and teach them ways to change their mode of thinking. The therapies will also help the patient to find alternative ways to cope with their triggers. Oftentimes it is necessary for a patient with dermotillomania to take certain medications so that they are more receptive to the therapy. Ongoing use of the medication is sometimes needed as well.

    Anti-depressants, especially those with SSRIs, are generally prescribed to those with dermotillomania. This skin picking medication choice is beneficial is because it helps to provide a person with a feeling of well being. The effect of the anti-depressant will not only treat any signs and symptoms of depression, but can also help with anxiety.

    Often skin picking is performed when a person is anxious. Various anti-anxiety dermotillomania medications can be used to help reduce the level of anxiety and reduce or eliminate skin picking. The doctor will decide which anti-anxiety medication for skin picking is best for the person; Klonopin, Ativan or Xanax are typically the medications of choice.

    If the skin picking sites become infected the doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics and will apply a special dressing to the area. The dressing will generally be an application of triple antibiotic ointment or a prescription ointment to the affected site and then covered with a 4 x 4 gauze.

    Some people with this disorder can have severe episodes of skin picking that leads to deep destructive wounds to the body. These types of episodes can either lead to the need for stitches or possibly surgery to correct the damage. Most dermotillomaniacs are less likely to require surgery when they are under the proper medical and psychological treatment.

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    Finding the Right Care

    It is in your best interests to seek out the best doctor available to handle your situation. Although one in twenty people are suspected of being afflicted with dermotillomania, it is still not a mainstream condition that the medical community is fully aware of. Finding the right medical or psychological practitioner to help you is important. Ask if they have treated someone with a skin picking disorder and if the skin picking treatments were successful.

    If your primary care physician does not know how to treat a skin picking disorder with medicine, ask to be referred to a psychologist or specialist who can help you. Chronic skin picking disorder is nothing to be ashamed of and more people than you know have this condition.

    Demand the correct treatments because you deserve to find some relief.

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    Resources:

    Skin Picking Disorder Fact Sheet

    http://www.ocfoundation.org/uploadedFiles/MainContent/Find_Help/Skin%20Picking%20Disorder%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

    Compulsive skin picking, neurotic excoriations. DermNet NZ

    http://dermnetnz.org/systemic/skin-picking.html

    About_SkinPicking_Web.pdf

    http://www.trich.org/dnld/About_SkinPicking_Web.pdf

    Compulsive Skin Picking - Dermotillomania

    http://www.brainphysics.com/skin-picking.php

    Skin Picking

    http://www.skinpick.com/skin-picking-forum