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OCD: Skin Picking

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 21 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
Ocd Compulsive Skin Skin Picking

Compulsive skin picking (CSP) is often classed as a type of OCD compulsion. If you suffer from CSP, you'll repeatedly feel the need to pick at your skin – even if it makes your skin bleed. Like OCD compulsions in general, CSP sufferers tend to perform this compulsive ritual to relieve anxiety.

Recognising The Signs of Compulsive Skin Picking

CSP tends to occur after high levels of anxiety, which can trigger the urge to pick your skin as a means of dealing with the situation. This won't necessarily be a conscious decision and you may not even realise what you're doing until you notice the damage that it's caused. Skin picking is often followed by intense relief or pleasure that the anxiety has been reduced and this can result in a vicious cycle in which you feel compelled to perform skin picking rituals to relieve anxiety despite experiencing despair or self-hate afterwards when you see the results of your efforts. During stressful periods, CSP rituals tend to be increased in a bid to reduce the increased anxiety.

In the beginning, CSP may involve scratching spots, moles or freckles that you deem unsightly or irritating. This can be linked to perfectionism as sufferers can easily convince themselves that CSP is necessary to deal with these skin imperfections, even though it is only going to make them worse. As the condition progresses, picking and scratching the skin can become an obsession and you may even start to pick at perceived imperfections that aren't really there. As well as picking and scratching with your nails, it's also likely that you'll use objects to 'help' you. This can include tweezers, pins, scissors and other sharp objects. Because of this, visible damage is usually present after CSP and your skin may be permanently scarred as a result of Compulsive Skin Picking.

After CSP rituals have been performed, you may go out of your way to cover up the damage by wearing heavy make-up and long-sleeved clothes or avoiding social situations in which attention may be drawn to your scars or scabs. CSP can have a knock-on effect on key areas of your life as sufferers often sideline their friends and may jeopardise work by being late because of skin picking or taking time off because they are unable to face people seeing the extent of the damage. If the damage is severe, it's not uncommon for sufferers to stay indoors and avoid leaving the house because they are too embarrassed for the outside world to see the effects of CSP.

Treatment of Compulsive Skin Picking

The majority of CSP sufferers are never officially diagnosed as they are too afraid or ashamed to get help from a doctor. For those who are able to confront their state of mind and seek treatment, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you to gain an understanding of the exact reasons why you might be engaging in CSP. Following on from this, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can go a long way towards helping you to fight CSP rituals.

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Hello. I'm a 16 year old girl. I started getting really bad acne at the age of just 10. I have tried various treatments including the pill which i'm on now. The pill seems to take away about 70% of my acne however my skin is never fully clear. I started skin picking when i moved to big school because i was so upset about the way i looked and the pain the spots caused me. I would pick the spots with anything from my fingernails to a back of a earing to a pin. I would pick it that much it would bleed and the top layer of my skin would come off. This skin picking would give me a bit of relief however when it came to hiding the picked skin it just brought me back down again. No matter how much makeup it would never hide! I used to get bullied quite alot because of it, and because i'm a biggesh girl i didnt want anything more wrong with me! I moved schools and the skin picking went away however the skin picking has started to come back and its even more depressing when you are not allowed to wear makeup for school. I really need help because i don't think many of my age girls do this and i don't know how to stop! Thanks, Elle x
Ell - 21-May-13 @ 10:28 PM
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Shaz - 8-Jun-12 @ 5:24 PM
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