Heal Your Life Today

Merrill Black, L.C.S.W.
Psychotherapist/Reiki Master
The Temperance Center
453 White Plains Road
Suite 201
Eastchester, N.Y. 10709
Phone: (914) 793-2600
Email: merrill@healyourlife2day.com

Dermatillomania (Skin Picking Disorder)

Skin Picking Help

Dermatillomania (Skin Picking Disorder ) is also known as Excoriation Disorder or SPD. Skin Picking affects many people. People who suffer from this will repetitively touch, rub, scratch, pick at, and or dig into their skin. This is often an attempt to remove small irregularities or perceived imperfections. Often this can result in discoloration of the skin or even scarring. In more serious cases there can be severe damage to the skin causing disfigurement.

Skin picking is thought of as one of many Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) in which a person can cause harm or damage to themselves or their appearance. Other BFRBs include hair pulling disorder (Trichotillomania), biting the insides of the cheeks, and severe nail biting.

Skin picking or other BFRBs can occur when a person experiences feelings such as anxiety, fear, excitement or boredom. Some people report that the act of repetitively picking can feel pleasurable; that they get satisfaction from it, & or as though they are accomplishing something by engaging in the act.

It can take up many hours of someone's day when they engage in this behavior and happen at various times in the day/night during specific activities or daily routines. It also can be quite difficult to stop the behavior.

Sometimes people are aware of when they are picking and other times they can go into a “zone” where they lose track of time and how much they are picking. Skin Picking can cause a great deal of distress. This can impact their self image/ self esteem, They may avoid social situations and dating. It can also impact them at work, as well as their relationships with significant others/ family members.

One of the goals at Merrill’s practice in Eastchester, NY is for the client to increase awareness about their picking. When the client understands where and when their picking happens, what they are saying to themselves, what their emotional triggers are, then it helps them to build in strategies to make different choices about their picking.

Treatment For Skin Picking:
The assessment process is an integral part of the treatment in order to see how the client’s Skin Picking plays out in their life. In Merrill’s practice (Eastchester, NY) she explores how much of the client’s picking is sensory, environmental, cognitive, and or emotional. Since everyone’s picking manifests differently, it is important to develop a comprehensive individualized treatment plan that is suitable for that client.

Habit reversal, sensory substitution, modifying their environment, creating physical barriers to the picking, cognitive therapy, “reframing their thoughts and perceptions”, relaxation training (including breath work), reiki, hypnosis, self awareness, talk therapy, and medication (when indicated) are all used as tools in the therapy. This helps the client begin to understand and manage their picking more effectively.

Ultimately, the goal is for the client become more aware and in control of their picking. This usually allows them to feel more content within themselves. Thus, this enables them to live a more productive, happy, and full life.

You can get further information about skin picking from the Trichotillomania Learning Center, Inc.