More people than you might think have a disturbing habit of picking scabs, including face picking or scalp picking. Those that do this to the extreme may suffer from dermatillomania, also known as excoriation disorder. If scab picking, face picking or scalp picking are so bad that they make a person feel embarrassed, ashamed or alone; if any of these habits feel more like an obsession or hold a person back from social interaction; if doing these things causes scars or disfigurement, then dermatillomania is the most probable cause.
Scab Picking, Face Picking, Scalp Picking
All the forms of skin picking: scab picking, face picking and scalp picking, fall under the umbrella of dermatillomania. Small children pick their scabs, often eventually growing out of the habit. But some continue to do it well into adulthood. A few of those adults go even further and ingest the scabs they have picked.
Face picking can begin with typical hygiene. Squeezing pimples, blackheads or whiteheads leads to scratching at every dry patch of skin, picking at every bump, or even digging at imagined flaws.
People who pick their scalps sometimes do this absent-mindedly. Other times, they do it with a sense of purpose. They eagerly await or actively seek out private time to indulge their habit. Collecting and/or ingesting the picked skin is also common.
Many times, these behaviors stand as separate manifestations. Other times, they overlap with coexisting conditions, such as obsessive compulsive disorder. However, engaging in just one type of compulsive skin picking behavior that causes significant emotional distress is all it takes to receive a diagnosis of dermatillomania aka excoriation disorder.
Skin Picking Fingers
If you suffer with dermatillomania, you may see your skin picking fingers as the enemy. You cannot seem to stop them from scanning over your skin for imperfections. In moments of relaxation, you find them working through your hair to find a flaw to scratch. Moments of anxiety bring those fingers tensely to the scabs you have created before. Why, you may ask, can those skin picking fingers just not stop?
Dermatillomania patients often feel alone and peculiar, even unlovable at times. They go to great lengths to conceal their habit and the physical signs of it. Frequently, people around them find the behavior distasteful and disgusting, which adds to their feelings of shame and exacerbates the problem. Shame and embarrassment represent added anxieties that can lead to more episodes of scab picking, face picking, or scalp picking. Sufferers hide their habit, hide the physical evidence, and create a life of isolation, frequently leading to clinical depression.
Doctors have classified dermatillomania as a mental illness that often accompanies obsessive compulsive disorder. As such, self-control issues in the patient, even if in only this one area of life, represent an obstacle of unusual complexity, requiring medicine and therapy. Numerous people have lived with this illness in shamed silence, but with better understanding and newer treatments, these people can come out of hiding and find some relief.