What is Dermatillomania?
Dermatillomania is a disorder in which a person habitually picks their skin, and is considered a form a self mutilation. Also called compulsive skin picking (CSP), dermatillomania can involve the picking of skin on any part of the body, but usually involves the face, neck, arms, shoulders, and hands. Symptoms of dermatillomania often follow a traumatic event that has caused severe emotional distress.
It is now thought that symptoms may be linked to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or body dysmorphic disorder. In this case, skin picking is an attempt to reach perfection. The person may start by picking at a mole, freckle, or blemish in an attempt to rid themselves of the “imperfection" (BrainPhysics, 2010).
People with dermatillomania will use their fingernails, teeth, tweezers, or pins to pick their skin. “It is more likely to occur during periods of boredom or stress, and occurs most often at bedtime, in the bathroom, in class, and in the car. Sometimes skin-picking is preceded by a high level of tension and a strong "itch" or "urge". Similarly skin-picking may be followed by a feeling of relief or pleasure. A Dermatillomania or CSP episode may be a conscious response to anxiety or depression, but is frequently done as an unconscious habit" (Khan, 2009).