When Picking at Your Skin Is More Than a Bad Habit

Another article from The Mighty I wanted to share and relate my own experience to.

I only just learned about this disorder less than a year ago.

The named was previously, dermatillomania, in the DSM-4, but, was renamed in the DSM-5 to excoriation disorder. I don’t like the word excoriation. It just sounds super gross and makes me uncomfortable, so I prefer the old name, dermatillomania. It also sounds better with trichotillomania, which is compulsive pulling out of hair (scalp or body). The two disorders are commonly seen together. I struggle with both, but more derma than trich, and usually the trich triggers the terms because pulling out a hair, it can sometimes bleed and scab, or later cause an ingrown hair, which often becomes a pimple. It’s a visicous cycle.

It isn’t as severe for me as the girl who wrote the article which is also why when I first heard of it I didn’t think I had it (the photo on Wikipedia is super gross), but one of the symptoms is having failed attempts to stop picking, which I have had plenty of. Another important symptom is that the picking takes significant time out of your day, more days than not, which it did. My skin maybe doesn’t look quite as bad, but it is just as stressful, painful, and anxiety triggering.

For me though, I’m generally not searching for the blemishes. My biggest trigger is visual. If I see something in the mirror, once I know it’s there, I cannot forget about it. Same goes for if I happen to find something by unintentionally touching my face, I can’t forget stop thinking about it and touching it.

It used to be a lot worse on my face than it is now. Maybe I’ve had less pimples on my face, therefore less reason to pick there. I don’t know. Although I have been getting a lot of those little tiny pimples around my nose, but they clear up at lot faster than others. Lately though I’ve been more focused on my arms. It used to just be above my elbows (I have tons and tons of tiny little scars) but it’s gotten really bad and now, I constantly have no less than 5 scabs on each arm, below the elbow.

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