Dermatillomania is also commonly known as Compulsive Skin Picking. It involves an urge to pick at one's skin.Often the face, but also other areas such as the arms, shoulders, chest, stomach, legs, genital areas, and back.
Along with Trichotillomania, it is classed as an Impulse Control Disorder, along with intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, pathological gambling, and pyromania. Dependant on which current research you read it may or may not be an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
It can be a symptom of self harm, but not always. Again as with Trichotillomania it may be an automatic action.
My personal issues started as a child, I remember the feelings of release associated with it. I used to pick at my arms and shoulders, areas I could keep covered. I progressed to other areas too. At its most extreme, usually for me (not for everyone) it is during times of great stress and anxiety. When my depression is bad, I pick more, often at my face. It can be an automated reaction. I can see 'something' that will start me off and I can lose myself in a trance like state for hours. Often not being aware of the time, until I have drawn blood several times. At other times, I am aware of what I am doing but cannot physically stop myself until I have 'satisfied' my need. I am no longer sure if I do it out of habit, or out of the need for the release. I mostly use my fingers, but have been known to use tweezers, needles, etc.
At it's worse, I will avoid people and places if my face is showing signs of picking, as this leads to greater stress and therefore, more picking. I have covered it with make up, long sleeves, etc.
I often avoid mirrors for this reasons, (which during a bad episode of depression is not uncommon anyway!). Sufferers are often advised to arrange for someone supervise them using mirrors and tweezers, etc. but in reality that isn't often possible. I am often late because I have been picking. It has a massive effect on my self esteem, which in turn creates its own problems.
I have had it dismissed by professionals I have asked for help as they do not think the marks, scars are sufficient to cause concern. My last CPN told me various times about how to treat pick sites to prevent infections. I have been lucky in that I have not had any infections as such, as some sufferers can end up with septicaemia.
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