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Finding the Top Exclusive Dermatillomania Treatment Center

What is Dermatillomania?

It’s a condition that few people want to claim; picking one’s skin seems like something you should easily be able to control. Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, it’s not a controllable habit, and it’s one that brings a great deal of embarrassment.

The inability to stop picking doesn’t mean that you’re crazy, nor does it necessarily mean that you have an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It does, however, mean that you will benefit from treatment in a facility that addresses the behavior.

Skin picking, or dermatillomania, is also known as excoriation disorder. It’s a psychological condition that manifests as repetitive, compulsive skin picking. In the DSM-5, it’s classified as an impulse control disorder, one of several body-focused repetitive behaviors.

Dermatillomania affects 1.4% of the population, and almost 80% of those affected are female.1

The biggest difference between dermatillomania and regular skin picking is that the behavior is chronic and results in severe tissue damage. Often people who suffer from dermatillomania will have extensive scarring. Generally, people with this condition target their face, along with hands, fingers, arms, and legs. Sometimes, they use their fingers or an instrument that allows them to pull, squeeze, scrape, or lance both healthy and damaged skin.

This picking behavior can last for months or even years. Because this is a chronic condition, symptoms rise and then disappear during the course of a person’s life.

Symptoms and Causes of Dermatillomania

In order to be diagnosed with dermatillomania, these three criteria have to be met:2

  • Recurrent skin picking that results in lesions on the skin.
  • Repeated attempts to stop or decrease the frequency of skin picking.
  • Picking causes feelings of embarrassment, shame, or loss of self-control.

The cause of dermatillomania is still unclear, though some research suggests it might have a genetic component. There might also be a correlation between higher than average anxiety disorders and those who suffer from dermatillomania.3

The emergence of this condition often coincides with puberty, leading some researchers to suggest there’s a connection between perfectionism and the condition.4

Medications and Treatment Options

Not everyone who seeks treatment for dermatillomania will be prescribed medication, but in many cases it can be helpful when combined with therapy sessions. Not every medication will work for each person since the condition is widely varied. Some of the more promising mediations include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, and OCD medication.

Trauma and depression can be an underlying cause of dermatillomania, and medications that treat the disorder can, in turn, help stop the urge to pick.

For some, skin picking can be a nervous tick that they do when they are fearful, stressed, or worried. Anti-anxiety medications might be useful in these situations.

Because many who pick their skin are diagnosed with OCD, medications like SSRIs that are often prescribed to treat OCD symptoms can work for dermatillomania as well.

No matter which type of medication—if any—is included in your treatment program, therapy is a necessary addition. Learning how to cope with stress and recognize the feelings that precipitate the behavior as well as learning how to replace skin picking with more positive behaviors is the focus of therapeutic treatment.

It’s not always easy to get a diagnosis and treatment recommendation for dermatillomania. Often, a general physician will refer to a dermatologist rather than a mental health specialist. If you are concerned you might have this condition, advocate for your own mental health. Request a referral to a mental health physician so you can begin to receive the treatment you need.

How Do You Find the Best Treatment Center?

Fortunately, there are several behavior health treatment centers located around the country that work with compulsive disorders like dermatillomania. If you’re considering treatment, make sure to inquire about the experience the facility has with treating this condition.

When you’re ready to find relief, call us. Our dedicated team of compassionate representatives is here to help you find your road to recovery.


  1. Lochner, C., Roos, A., Stein, D.J. (2017). Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder: A Systematic Review of Treatment OptionsNeuropsychiatr Dis Treat.
  2. Arnold, L.M., McElroy, S.L., Mutasim, D.F., Dwight, M.M., Lamerson, C.L., Morris, E.M. (1998). Characteristics of 34 Adults with Psychogenic Excoriation. J Clin Psychiatry, 59(10), 509-514.
  3. Spiegel, D.R., Finklea, L. (2009). The Recognition and Treatment of Pathological Skin Picking: A Potential Neurobiological Underpinning of the Efficacy of Pharmacotherapy in Impulse Control Disorders. Psychiatry (Edgmont, 6(2):38–42.
  4. Odlaug, B.L., Hampshire, A., Chamberlain, S.R., Grant, J.E. (2016). Abnormal Brain Activation in Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder: Evidence from an Executive Planning fMRI StudyBr J Psychiatry, 208(2), 168–174.

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