Excoriation Disorder (Skin Picking Disorder)

What is Excoriation Disorder (Skin Picking Disorder)?

Excoriation Disorder (Skin Picking Disorder, SPD) is characterized by persistent skin picking in an attempt to remove perceived imperfections leading to cuts and other kinds of skin damage. The act of picking at the skin often alleviates anxiety or can distract the individual from it.

What are the causes of this condition?

The exact causes of Excoriation Disorder are relatively unknown. A biological link for the disorder is present as many different species show similar habits of damaging skin picking.

Excoriation Disorder Symptoms

The symptoms of Excoriation Disorder involve the recurring picking of skin even after damage has been done. The picking can be preceded by an urge to pick at the skin often caused by anxiety. Individuals with the disorder will make repeated attempts to stop or decrease the habit. The skin-picking and damage done to the skin also causes significant distress to individuals with the disorder in their social live or other important areas. The behavior also cannot be related to other mental health, substance, or medical problems.

  • Recurring skin picking resulting in skin damage.
  • Repeated attempts to decrease or stop skin picking.
  • The skin picking causes significant amounts of distress in social or other important areas of life.
  • The skin picking is not attributable to the effects of a substance (e.g., cocaine) or another medical condition (e.g., scabies).
  • The skin picking is not better explained by symptoms of another mental disorder.

Excoriation Disorder Treatment

Rothman Center Clinicians Who Specialize in Skin Picking


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