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Signs of Excoriation and How To Seek Treatment

By October 29, 2021May 2nd, 2023Dermatology

Excoriation, also known as skin picking disorder, is a behavioral condition characterized by the repetitive urge to pick, poke, or scratch at one’s own skin. It can also involve pulling hair from one’s head or eyebrows, excessive nail-biting, and other self-grooming behaviors. Excoriation often begins in childhood but can persist into adulthood. According to Medical News Today, excoriation is a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) affecting roughly 1.4% of people over the age of 18 in the U.S., affecting women more often than men. The more common the picking becomes, the greater the risk of developing complications such as infections and permanent scarring. Keep reading to understand the signs of excoriation.

Recurring Open Wounds

Persistent open lesions or wounds are some of the more visible signs that may occur due to skin picking. Symptoms can be mild to severe depending on how often it occurs. If you find that you’re consistently picking at moles or reopening a wound on your body, it’s important to seek professional help from a dermatologist. As a professional, your dermatologist will be able to provide you with recommended treatment options.

Social or Physical Impairment

During stressful times, people with excoriation disorder may pick at their skin as a coping mechanism. The behavior may lead to physical or emotional impairment, which can affect relationships and work life.

According to, skin picking behaviors can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours and may lead to feelings of embarrassment or shame. These feelings can cause people with excoriation disorder to avoid social gatherings or other situations where others might notice their skin picking.

Multiple Attempts at Stopping

If you’ve tried to stop picking at your skin or hair but have been unsuccessful, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. If untreated, excoriation disorder can lead to painful lesions, blood loss, scars, and psychological trauma.

Causes of Excoriation

People can develop a skin-picking disease for a variety of reasons, such as:

– OCD: a mental health condition characterized by unwanted repetitive behavior.
– Trichotillomania: a condition related to OCD, leading to hair pulling and teeth grinding.
– Autism: a neurodevelopmental condition affecting behavior and communication.
– ADHD: a neurodevelopmental condition that affects a person’s ability to control impulsive behaviors.

If you are experiencing hyperpigmentation as a result of excoriation or other causes of skin trauma, contact the experts at The Dermatology Clinic. Our team can address your scarring and help rehabilitate your skin with appropriate treatment.