a plaque-covered hand picking at an exclamation point-shaped plaque.

Skin Picking (Excoriation Disorder)

What is excoriation disorder? Have you ever caught yourself touching your skin, peeling off your scabs, or just scratching because you just see your eczema there? I feel many people would relate to this topic because I tend to do this a lot due to my chronic eczema.

We are obsessed with perfection

For some time now, I've been thinking about this idea of picking at my skin when I'm not even itchy. I have come to realize that in society, we become obsessed with having beautiful skin. We become extremely obsessed over the idea of the perfect skin type seen in the media. When, in fact, that is not the reality of a real person's body because nobody's skin is perfect, not even models. Why do you think photoshop exists?

I thought picking was helping

I remember years ago before I would go out with friends or go out in public, I would start to pick at my skin thinking it would help. When, in fact, I was just making it worse because it was just getting all bloody and oozy. Sometimes we think we are helping by picking up the scraps, but in fact, we're just prolonging our healing.

I'm trying to reprogram my thoughts

Now that I've become conscious of picking at my skin when I'm not itchy or just bored, I start to think and reprogram my thoughts. I start to move around my hands and try to get moving and get some airflow in. It's important to retrain our brains to say I am not itchy. I am not itchy and just repeat it to ourselves. This has worked for me when I start to have panic attacks and get extremely itchy. By playing with your brain, you can reprogram it to believe that you are, in fact, not itchy.

A skin picking disorder?

When I started to write this article out, I decided to do some research and actually found skin picking can become a disorder. The medical word for it is excoriation disorder (skin picking or dermatillomania). It's more common in females than males, and people with skin-picking disorder often have skin conditions like acne or eczema. Many people who have excoriation disorder also tend to have OCD and other disorders.1-3

What treatments are available?

There are treatments that can be tailored for people who have this disorder. The most common treatments are going to therapy and working with a therapist. Therapists tend to work with clients by using cognitive behavioral theory. This will allow clients to learn how to understand their thoughts and behavior problems when they feel like skin picking. The second treatment most commonly used it prescribing medications which help to relax the body.

Poor health, bad habits

I think when we have any physical health condition, we tend to form bad habits. Specifically with eczema because we forget to be kind to our bodies. We don't even realize that we are constantly picking at our skin throughout the day. It can easily become something we do without thinking. I've brought it up to the attention of my therapists, and in my next post will give you all an update.

Have you caught yourself before picking at your skin before?

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