Skin-Picking/Excoriation Disorder: An Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD: Skin-Picking/Excoriation

Written by: Jinal Kapadia

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. There are many different types of OCD disorders, but one disorder in particular deals with skin picking; it is called Excoriation.

Excoriation disorder affects around 1.4% of the general population, and its symptoms appear most commonly during adolescence, around the onset of puberty. This disorder, sometimes referred to as chronic skin-picking or dermatillomania, is characterized by repeated picking at one’s own skin resulting in skin lesions and sometimes significant disruption in one’s life.

In order to be diagnosed with Excoriation disorder, a person must exhibit the behavior of picking one’s skin that results in skin lesions and repeated attempt to stop this behavior. These symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment, can not be caused by a medical or dermatological condition or substance, and can not be better explained by another psychiatric disorder.

The treatment for Excoriation disorder is similar to the treatment for general Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the sense that both suggest the use of medication, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to reduce the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors of the person suffering from the disorder.

If you or someone you know has Excoriation disorder or seems to have the symptoms of Excoriation disorder, and needs help, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit

Sources: (2018). Excoriation Disorder (Skin Picking or Dermatillomania). [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018]. (2015). Excoriation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018]. (2016). NIMH » Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018].


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