Excoriation Disorder

To start off, here is a definition of Excoriation disorder by Mental Health America:

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. 

This all started for me during puberty, popping pimples and blackheads in an attempt to battle my severe acne. Many people pop their pimples, not all of them go on to have excoriation disorder.

I’ve continued to have some form of acne my entire life and have continued to pick at the whole time. A couple years ago, I got to where I had some on my chest. But instead of picking them and leaving them to heal, I began to pick at them, even after popping them.

It has gotten to the point that I now have dark scars all over my chest, and some on my back, arms, face, stomach, and legs. Recently, I’ve done some real damage to my leg. I get a kind of relief when I see the blood, the more blood the better the relief. I’ve talked to my doctors about this and have an appointment to speak to my psychiatrist about a new medicine that may be able to decrease the urges to do this. Cross your fingers! I also went to my doctor and had all my sores evaluated to make sure they were not infected. I am happy to say that they are all infection free!

This is, in my opinion, a bizarre problem to have. And an embarrassing one to have. I hate all the scars I have, they’re constant reminders of what I’ve done to myself. I hate the blood stains on my clothes, bras, and bed sheets. I’ve tried band-aids, tight sports bras, and keeping my nails short, but nothing seems to be able to keep me from doing it. I’m really hoping this new medicine manages to help with this awful habit.

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