Dermatillomania: The Secret of Compulsive Skin Picking

December 29, 2010 Holly Gray

Watch our compulsive skin picking video interview with Katie Rios to see what dermatillomania is and what living with this secret compulsion is like.

Katie Rios developed acne at 11-years-old and started picking at her skin. Ten years later, Katie still struggles with what she now knows is dermatillomania (also known as excoriation disorder). An impulse control disorder marked by secrecy, compulsive skin picking holds sufferers hostage in a painful cycle of compulsion and shame. Many people with dermatillomania go to great lengths to hide their skin picking and the resulting scars, limiting their ability to get treatment and support. Severe cases can interfere with an individual's ability to work, have relationships, or even spend much time out in public for fear of having the embarrassing secret discovered.

What Is Dermatillomania?

Characterized by the repeated, overwhelming urge to pick at one's own skin, dermatillomania is sometimes considered an obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder. Compulsive skin picking is also observed in some individuals with body dysmorphic disorder. A type of self-injury, dermatillomania can cause serious infections and permanent scarring.

Life with Dermatillomania

katieheadshotfixedBecause of the shame and secrecy that goes along with compulsive skin picking, hearing from someone who lives with it is rare. We were fortunate to have Katie as a guest on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show earlier today to discuss what living with dermatillomania is like for her. She talks about:

  • How and when her compulsive skin picking began.
  • The evolution of her dermatillomania, and what it's like for her today.
  • What triggers her picking episodes.
  • Why sufferers of dermatillomania can't "just stop picking."
  • Treatment for compulsive skin picking - what helps?

Katie also runs a support blog for those with dermatillomania where readers can participate by sharing their own experiences and questions, as well as photos, video, audio, and links.

Video on Dermatillomania

Our video interview with Katie Rios is no longer available. But there are dermatillomania videos at Living with Dermatillomania.

Share Your Dermatillomania Experiences

Have you been diagnosed with dermatillomania (excoriation disorder) or another impulse control disorder? Do you struggle with compulsive skin picking or hair pulling? Please leave a comment about your experience below.

APA Reference
Gray, H. (2010, December 29). Dermatillomania: The Secret of Compulsive Skin Picking, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: Holly Gray

Skin Picking Center
January, 3 2011 at 4:23 am

Thanks Katie for this interview! It's real great to know that this disorder enters public awarness.
As for your comment in the interview, that picking's not worth the pain - I'd say it's the other way around. The pain is not worth the picking...

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