What Is Dermatillomania or Excoriation Disorder and Its Treatment

Do you pick your skin occasionally? Yes, right? But, do you know that this occasional picking of your skin sometimes results in a chronic condition called excoriation disorder? Excoriation disorder is again known as skin picking disorder or Dermatillomania. Now, you may wonder, what is Dermatillomania! Well! We will tell you everything about this disorder & also help you with the ways for its treatment. Simply keep reading this text & you’ll get to know everything on Excoriation disorder.

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What Is Excoriation?

Excoriation is a disorder where you feel like picking your skin or scabbing it frequently. For example, in the case of dermatillomania fingers, you will feel like picking or scabbing the skin around your fingers or surrounding your nails frequently. The feeling of scabbing or picking your skin will be so intense that you will face bleeding, sores, or scars on your skin. 

Also, those who have this disorder continually keep scratching their skin to remove their skin’s imperfection (as seen & felt by them). It may occur in both kids as well as adults. The initiation of this disorder can happen at any age.

This disorder is known as a kind of repetitive self-grooming-type behaviour. And hence, it is also termed BFRB (Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior). Pulling your hair and nails or picking them also falls in BFRB. They eventually damage your body. 

This type of behaviour can be classified as DSM-V & is an obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD persons used to have a compulsive urge for performing repetitive behaviours. 

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Why Do People Pick Scabs?

Why Do People Pick Scabs
Why Do People Pick Scabs

People mainly pick scabs for two reasons:

  • They feel like picking their scab or rash that emerges on their skin after the occurrence of some type of minor injury, skin infection, or rash. This picking results in more injury to your skin. Also, it will result in more itching & late healing of your wound. And, more itching means more picking or scabbing. So, the cycle goes on.
  • They pick on their skin or scabs it, especially on the skin around their nails, when they are in tension. This is because they feel that doing so will help them alleviate their stress. And, this repetitive action of picking skins around nails or other places of their body day by day becomes a habit of them.

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 Signs & Symptoms Of Excoriation Disorder:

Signs & Symptoms Of Excoriation Disorder
Signs & Symptoms Of Excoriation Disorder

With skin picking disorder, you will never know when your skin picking anxiety or mild & nervous habit of skin picking will transform into a severe issue that requires treatment. And here are the signs & symptoms of this disorder:

  • You will waste plenty of time picking your skin.
  • You will have skin picking scars that are easily noticeable.
  • Moreover, you will feel uncomfortable & disturbed, thinking that you have picked a lot of your skin throughout the day.
  • You will go through skin picking anxiety & feel uneasy about appearing at any social event or other places where people are present for not wanting to exhibit your scars to them.

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Skin Picking Disorder Treatment

Now it’s time to know “How to stop picking scabs”. The answer is this sort of disorder can be treated with the help of both therapy & medications. For taking medications, you should take the proper advice of an expert doctor. The doctor may occasionally suggest to you some psychiatric medications that are used for treating excoriation disorder. However, these medications are not FDA-approved & hence not affirmed for this mission. 

The best & well-researched class of medicines for treating excoriation disorder is SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. An example of such medicine is Prozac. According to earlier researchers or studies, some anticonvulsant medicines like Lamictal/Lamotrigine & supplements like N-acetyl cysteine are also valuable for this purpose. Naltrexone, an opioid obstructing drug, is also beneficial for excoriation.

The therapies for skin picking disorder include:

Habit Reversal Training: 

In this training, the therapist will make you identify the stresses or additional factors that are triggering your dermatillomania fingers, lip picking & other excoriations. They will tell you to find different types of picking or squeezing activities that will not harm you but that you can do on other objects. 

For example, you can squeeze a rubber ball or pick cotton balls out of a cushion, etc. These types of objects will occupy your hands & will support you to lessen your anxiety at the same time.

Stimulus Control 

In this therapy, the therapist will suggest changing your environment, which they think will help you to curb your skin picking habit. They will tell you to wear gloves or band-aids on your for preventing your urge to feel the skin & picking it up. They can also ask you to cover your mirrors so that you can’t see your facial blemishes & eruptions. Doing this doesn’t feel like picking the blemishes on your skin, which you would have done otherwise.  

How To Find An Appropriate Doctor And How To Know If You Have Excoriation Disorder?

To know if you have an excoriation disorder, you have to find a suitable doctor who is trained for BFRB therapies & an expert in diagnosing or treating this kind of problem. They will do a skin picking disorder test after a face-to-face consultation with you. 

As you are diagnosed with excoriation disorder, your doctor will suggest the necessary medications or therapies. Also, it is better if you once get your skin checked up by a primary care doctor/dermatologist. They will check up on the skin lesions, scars, and injuries on your skin that you have done by repetitive picking of your skin.  

Substitutes For Skin Picking

  • Pinching a rubber ball
  • Settling a puzzle or riddle
  • Painting, sewing, etc.

How To Manage Dermatillomania At Home?

  • By applying calming topical creams, oils, or gels Like aloe vera gel, coconut oil, etc
  • By doing yoga, meditation, or other stress-relieving activities
  • Exercising regularly
  • By hiding the tools that can be used for picking skin
  • By removing/covering the mirrors at your home

The Final Words

So, excoriation disorder, though seemingly not serious, is actually a serious issue. And you can prevent it by adopting a few simple steps & by taking the help of a doctor or psychiatrist. So, if you are one of those whose family member is suffering from this disorder, visit a doctor immediately & get your close one cured of it. Better late than never.


Q1. What causes excoriation?

Answer: Excoriation is a disorder that is caused due to picking your skin or scabbing it. This picking or scabbing of your skin will result in the habit of doing it frequently, out of stress. It is called skin picking anxiety. 

For example, in the case of dermatillomania fingers, you will feel like picking or scabbing the skin around your fingers or surrounding your nails frequently. The feeling of scabbing or picking your skin will be so intense that you will face bleeding, sores, or scars on your skin. 

Q.2. Is excoriation a scratch?

Answer: Yes, people with excoriation disorder have scratches and blemishes on their skin. Those who have this disorder continually keep scratching their skin to remove their skin’s imperfection (as seen & felt by them).

Q.3. What is excoriated skin?

Answer: An excoriated skin is a skin in which you will see a lot of scratches, wounds & blemishes due to skin picking or scabbing.

Q.4. What is an excoriation wound?

Answer: Excoriation wound is a wound that is formed on one’s skin out of continuous scratching, picking, or scabbing. These injuries form on the skin of those who have an excoriation disorder & pick their skin out of habit or anxiety. They feel that picking their skin will somehow relieve their stress & anxiety.

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