Last Modified on Dec 17, 2013
What Is Dermatillomania?
Most individuals pick at the occasional hangnail or loose piece of skin on their lips. However, when this occasional picking goes beyond this realm and leads to extensive picking to the point of injury, it becomes a disorder. Dermatillomania, otherwise known as skin picking, is a relatively common disorder of severe picking that is most prevalent in individuals with comorbid psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
The typical individual who picks his or her skin does not have skin picking disorder. Rather, an individual’s incessant picking behavior must fall within specific constraints to be categorized as such. Skin picking disorder is a disorder in which an individual picks the skin over and over to the point of causing tissue damage. In addition to tissue damage, the picking must also cause distress or complication with typical daily living activities such as work and social engagements.
The exact cause of skin picking disorder is unclear; however, research suggests it is linking to underlying psychological factors. Factors that influence the onset of skin picking disorder are likely to be both biological and environmental. At any rate, the disorder is classified as an impulse control disorder that is body focused. It may share ties with obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD.
Natural Dermatillomania Treatment
As dermatillomania is a self-injurious behavior by nature, treating and remedying the condition is vital to continued health. Many natural treatments are available that offer relief and remedy the disorder. Bach flower remedies are an option that focus on the exact emotions of individual and offer extensive success for treating the underlying issues causing the disorder. These remedies include agrimony, beech, cherry plum, white chestnut, chestnut bud, and others dependent on the individual’s emotional needs. Additional treatment options include apple cider vinegar, vitamin A, zinc, magnesium, and a real food diet. Identifying the underlying cause helps focus and guide treatment options, so that is often the best place to begin dermatillomania treatment.
Bach Flower Remedies
[YEA] 08/04/2011: Kalki from Mumbai, India: "My relative had this problem. She's 45 years old and was a compulsive nailbiter and skin picker especially around her nails. Her fingers and nails were in a very sorry state. She tried Bach Flower Remedies. The remedies she took were Agrimony, Beech, Cherry Plum, White Chestnut and Chestnut Bud (Look up www.bachcentre.com for details on the remedies).
In two weeks, there was a major improvement. Her nails were no longer bitten to the quick. The skin around them started looking healthy with less picking. Even better, her family reported great improvement in her moods and behaviour. Now after 6 weeks her hands are looking normal. She intends continuing BFR as she feels "lighter".
I know BFR are person specific and address a person's emotional state. These ones may not be the best fit for another person. Still I hope this may be of some help to someone."
[YEA] 04/08/2012: Lecia from Copenhagen, Denmark: "I remember someone mentioning inositol helping with their skin picking. It may be worth a try."
06/21/2010: Jackie from Belfast, Northern Ireland: "i am constantly picking at my scalp. it is so bad the only way i can describe it is to say i am (burrowing holes) into my scalp. as soon as they strat to heal, it seems to be time to pick again! i want to pick deeper and deeper untill my fingernails are covered in blood. and my scalp feels raw.
also in areas of my scalp,some of the holes seems to be joing up together. they are making a little trail. at one time i had these on my butt,however, they seemed to have cleared up. and now it is only the ones on my scalp that bother me.
the processing of picking and the rawness of the sores leave me feeling distressed after the intense picking. the sores bother me when i was my hair and i have to make hairdresser appointment for the days that they feel like they are heaing before i get picking at them again. i would be grateful if anyone could tell me whatthis condition is and how can i treat it.
my doctor give me special shampoo but it did not help and neither did the steroid cream. i dont know what else to try.
they sting when i wash my hair"
08/18/2010: Jane from Blackfoot, Id 83221 replies: "It sounds like you have ocd(obsessive compulsive disorder). I have it too. It comes in many forms from picking out your hair, eyelashes, hoarding things, excessive worry about cleanliness, checking to see if the door is locked, etc. My mom said when I was a baby I pulled out my hair so much she had to put mittens on my hands. It is sometimes activated by certain things. I think when I got pregnant the second time it got worse. My daughter got strep throat and pulled out almost all of her eyelashes. I wouldn't have believed this but there is an ocd foundation which publishes a newsletter. You can write to them. (not sure of address. )You might look under earthclinic and hair pulling. I think my symptoms got a lot better with taking acv(apple cider vinegar). Hope this helps! God bless you!"
08/21/2010: Tom from Regina, Sk replies: "Jane:
All alphabet acronyms are just labels given by the mainstream medicos for "syndromes", a hodgepodge eclectic list of real symptoms (not in the patient's head! ). So ADD from one doc could easily be diagnosed (or misdiagnosed) as ADHD by another. Or OCD. Or anything else.
This site has a library full of recent news as well as science behind the effects of the thousands of artificial chemicals we are exposed to daily, and the imbalances and sickness and symptoms they cause:
Example right off the main site page:
Artificial colours pose risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies, and should be banned, according to a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. A top government scientist agrees, and says that food dyes present unnecessary risks to the public. See Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks http://www.cspinet.org/new/201006291.html.
From July 21st 2010, a warning about artificial colours: "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children" must be used on foods in the EU. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:354:0016:0033:en:PDF. This warning is not required in Australia where it is still up to parents to read labels. So, I realize someone may have been diagnosed from an early age, but all that may mean is that the chemicals are still in the system. After that is gone through, if there's nothing extreme found there, then the next likely cause I think is a shortage of critical minerals, first in the diet then in the body. There are some very good multi-mineral supplements out there like the fulvics and a few pill/capsule supplements (but not those average "daily multi-minerals" you see mass advertised, IMHO. )
The key is to find one that has at least 60 mineral complexes, with as many as up into the seventies! A label check of those regular "daily multimineral pills" shows most have at most about 15 or so. OCD as a true symptom of a real mineral deficiency is no different than people with very poor deficient diets who have a craving for eating DIRT, because dirt can contain not only those missing minerals, but homeostatic beneficial bacteria. It's called pica. So there's 2 possible causes to start with, one of things in the diet that shouldn't be there, and one of things not in the diet that should be."
09/15/2010: Noelle from Denton, Tx, Us replies: "To Jackie from Belfast, I too suffer from the compulsion that you described. I researched it once and found the name "psychogenic excoriation. " I had done it since I was 10 or so. It gets worse in times of stress or anxiety. I'm 40 and have dyed my hair for the last 20 years or so (premature grey hair runs in the family) but last year stopped dyeing my hair. That seems to have helped, but sometimes I still get the compulsion. Best of luck to you... I have no suggestions but you are not alone."
03/05/2012: Kay from Destin, Fl replies: "Some people have an OCD, but many people do this unconsciously when they are bored and/or inactive for too long.
My roommate has scarred her arms really bad from picking while watching TV; so I bought her the little rubber finger covers (in the bandaid section) and a tube of antibiotic ointment... Now instead of picking, the rubber finger tips remind her to put on the ointment instead... It works; her sores are almost healed up now!!! Next I will buy her aloe vera so she can rub it into the scars while she watches TV; hopefully they will heal up too. Then we will buy a long sleeve shirt with tight sleevs and find something else for her to fiddle with/pick at to replace her habit of picking at her arms... If it doesn't work, I hope she will pick the lint balls off all our sweaters and towels instead!"
11/29/2012: Metoo from Victoria, Bc, Canada replies: "I do this too and it's gotten pretty bad, but I can't pinpoint why I do it. The previous poster's comments about her roomate watching TV reminded me that I was way better when I used to play GameBoy (dating myself! ) or crochet while watching TV. Thank you so much! I'm going back to multi-hobbying!"
10/21/2013: Hotlava from Seattle replies: "Try googling "PANDAS": pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with strep.
Many people are over exposed to strep in utero or during childhood from abcessed tonsils or tooth cavitations, leading to the body creating an autoimmune disorder in the brain. Often OCD behaviors develop a month or two after a wicked strep infection (loss of voice/deep sore throat/possible pneumonia- all strep related).
Just because it's called "pediatric" doesn't mean adults don't suffer from it! The research is pretty new (only 10 yrs or so), and only focuses on children, unfortunately. It seems that psychiatrists would rather diagnose "hysteria" than strep treating antibiotics and immunomodulation. The idea that psychiatric disorders could be a physical, rather than mental, illness is too radical for them (and their pharmaceutical overlords).
There are great parent support groups on "PANDAS" found online. Also consider plugging it into PubMed and take the abstracts to your doctor so they can educate themselves. Look particularly for "asymptomatic carriers of strep", if you have OCD behaviors but very few sore throats.
Often, kids get it from their parents, who had chronic sore throats during their childhoods and got their tonsils removed (but still had a lingering, asymptomatic infection)! Perhaps there is a genetic component as well, but infectious transmission makes more sense...
Vitamin A/zinc/magnesium, strong summer sunshine skin exposure (tan without a burn- use coconut oil), salt up the nose and down the throat (ex: clean ocean water), probiotics, organic-grass-fed bone broth (for the marrow), a real food diet (good nutrition makes for a healthy immune system), changing kitchen sponges and toothbrushes frequently, avoiding/removing silver amalgams and vaccines with thimerosol (the mercury in them could trigger autoimmunity) and taking strep antibiotics like azithromycin and cipro are all supportive for kicking a strep-induced OCD or impulse control disorder.
There are blood tests that can measure strep antibodies in the blood, and strep throat swabbs, to see if you have latent or active infections that warrent antibiotics.. symptoms can go away (although not permamently) after only a day of antibiotics!
Also, make sure any tooth removal or oral surgery heals up properly, emphasizing wound cleaning... infections can get locked inside "healed" bone and cause a strep foci for years to come.