Excoriation Disorder


Excoriation disorder, sometimes referred to dermatillomania or skin picking disorder, is a condition characterized by compulsively picking at one's skin for no apparent reason. There is no underlying medical condition, such as a skin condition, that triggers the picking.

The skin-picking associated with excoriation disorder is more than just picking at the skin from time to time. Excoriation disorder is a serious mental illness that may affect as many as one in 20 people. Proper diagnosis and treatment is essential in overcoming this condition.

In the DSM-5, the next edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, excoriation disorder will be included in the Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders chapter.

Signs and Symptoms

According to the International OCD Foundation, excoriation or skin-picking disorder occurs when a person picks his or her skin over and over again, causing tissue damage. The skin-picking also causes distress and problems with everyday life, including work and social activities. While the picking helps sufferers find relief from negative emotions like anxiety, sadness and anger, it is usually followed by feelings of shame or guilt.

People who suffer from excoriation disorder also likely suffer from depression and/or anxiety.


It’s important to see a healthcare professional in order to get a proper diagnosis of excoriation disorder so that an effective treatment plan can be devised. Treatment may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) along with medications including certain types of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors and anti-seizure medications.

Source: International OCD Foundation


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