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Skin Picking Disorder Caused By Stress and Anxiety

You may have noticed a sudden personal obsession of yours to picking on your skin or, may have observed a loved one getting himself or herself wounded severely from frequent skin picking. Could that be a sign of stress and anxiety? Worse, might you or your loved one be suffering from skin picking disorder

Our Love Affair With Skin.

Unfortunately, too many people don’t think they’re pretty or handsome enough to stay confident in their own skin. Salma Hayek recalls a bout with acne, “And this acne was so bad it sent me into severe, severe depression. Like I couldn’t leave the house.” Sometimes, it’s just a lack of self-confidence but, feeling disgusted with your own skin can easily lead to a skin disorder known as “Excoriation” or, more popularly called as “Skin Picking Disorder”.

Is it dangerous? Yes, for many reasons that generally fall under two major categories, that is, either skin disorder is the problem or, if it is just a symptom of another, more serious health problem. Listed below are the many reasons why skin picking disorder is a cause for concern:

1. results to severe scarring and infections

2. indicate stress, anxiety and depression

3. indicate a developmental or neurotic disorder

4. sign of substance abuse

5. signify the presence of other skin disorders

6. symptom of auto-immune response disorders

7. may indicate withdrawal from having social connections

8. may indicate psychosis and having suicidal tendencies

Is It Love Or Is It Obsession.

The trouble with skin picking is that it’s so common, it is hardly considered a behavioral problem. Yet, very little is known about Skin Picking Disorder that even experts are divided as to how the condition should be classified. In the broader scheme of things, this condition is often considered as an expression of obsessive compulsive disorder, more specifically, “body focused repetitive behavior”.

Some of the more common symptoms include:

•deliberately or unknowingly picking on the skin

•picking on the skin until it gets severely wounded or erupts

•chronically picking on skin to relieve nervousness, anxiety, stress and depression

•using other things to pick on skin, such as tweezers, cutters, needles and knives

•feeling of extreme embarrassment over typical skin imperfections like a pimple, scar or freckle

It’s not easy to spot the presence of Skin Picking Disorder, even experts still have a hard time diagnosing the condition. You can use these guide questions to evaluate if there’s a cause for concern over your skin picking obsession:

1. Do you frequently pick at your skin and seem to waste the most part of the day doing that?

2. Don’t you stop picking at your skin until it has been severely wounded, whether you deliberately intended to or failed to notice?

3. Does skin picking get in the way of your daily activities, like working or studying?

4. Do you feel embarrassed about your skin, so much so that you’ve been avoiding any kind of social meet up or gathering?

If you answer, “Yes,” to these questions then, you should get yourself evaluated further by your physician. These questions do not, in any way, substitute for a professional advice. It is but a mere indication that your behavior may be outside of the ordinary and needs closer, more professional attention.

At the first instance, your physician will try to determine whether it’s just a straightforward skin picking disorder that you are dealing with or, if skin picking is the result of other underlying illness or disease, including depression and mental health problems. That way, your physician can come up with a proper course of treatment that, depending on the causes, may include any of the following or, a combination of which:

1. Eliminating the stimulus.

For instance, if seeing your pimples on the mirror is driving you to pick on your skin then, you may be asked to cover your mirrors.

2. Habit withdrawal or reversal.

If, for instance, your skin picking is rooted on stress, your physician may help you change your behavior from skin picking to squeezing your pinky, and possibly teach you other stress coping behaviors too.

3. Resolving the root cause.

That includes rehabilitation when substance abuse is the root cause, and psychological therapy sessions when you have suicidal tendencies.


When Skin Picking Disorder is left unaddressed, it can lead to unnecessary risks and hazards, as many of which are preventable. Feelings of personal distress, can even lead to injuries and death.

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