October 7, 2011

Do You Suffer from Dermatillomania? 4 Tips for Compulsive Skin Pickers

For many of us who care about our skin and hair, we tend to fret over the smallest details—we research the best lotions, shampoos, and other products, we drink lots of water, etc. However, some are plagued by an unfortunate disorder in which they compulsively do damage to their skin and/or hair. This disorder is known as dermatillomania, an impulse control disorder in which sufferers disfigure their skin against their own will. The disorder manifests itself in several ways. Skin-pickers may pick the skin on their hands, neck, arms, shoulders, or scalp.
Dermatillomania
A person with dermatillomania with sores as a result of skin picking on arms, shoulders and chest.

If you think you may suffer from dermatillomania, here are a few tips:

1. Seek professional help.
Contrary to popular perception, dermatillomania is more than just a bad habit. It is likely that sufferers developed the disorder when they were adolescents in response to situational or genetic anxiety. Dermatillomania is related Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and as such, it is something that should be treated by both a psychiatrist and a therapist. If the problem has become severe, seek professional help immediately.

  2. Join a support group
After getting professional help, it might be advisable to join a support group, to discuss problems and progress with others who may be in the same boat as you are. Considering that 2% of the population suffers from dermatillomania, there are likely support groups in your area to help you cope with your anxiety and skin-picking.

3. Become more aware.
Because most compulsive skin pickers are unaware of their disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy that enables sufferers to become more aware about the different stressors that trigger the skin-picking in the first place, is commonly suggested. Talk to your doctor about finding the best CBT therapist for you.  The awareness encouraged through CBT will help you in drastically decreasing skin-picking behaviors.

4. There are various ways to protect your skin from more damage.
In addition to therapy and possible medication, there are various small things that you can do as you work to treat your dermatillomania. For example, it has been suggested that for those who bite their skin, chewing on ice is a good way to distract yourself and curb the behavior. For those pick with their fingernails, getting fake acrylic nails helps as well.

If you suffer from dermatillomania, the most important thing to remember is that you are far from being alone. Once you come to terms with the fact that you have a perfectly treatable disorder, you’ll be well on your way to having both a health mind and skin.

By-line: Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.
Pic Credit: Wikipedia



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