what is excoriation skin picking disorder

Excoriation disorder (also referred to as chronic skin-picking or dermatillomania) is a mental illness related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is characterized by repeated picking at one’s own skin which results in skin lesions and causes significant disruption in one’s life.

Individuals may pick at healthy skin, minor skin irregularities (e.g., pimples or calluses), lesions, or scabs. This disorder is usually chronic, with periods of remission alternating with periods of greater symptom intensity. If untreated, skin-picking behaviors may come and go for weeks, months, or years at a time. It is common for individuals with this disorder to spend significant amounts of time, sometimes even several hours a day, on their picking behavior.

Skin picking is a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) that typically begins during adolescence, commonly coinciding with, or following the onset of, puberty around ages 13-15, but may also occur among children (under 10 years old), or adults (between the ages of 30 and 45). Excoriation disorder affects approximately 1.4% of American adults, and is experienced by women more often than men