Do I have Dermatillomania?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Im 13 years old and im in middle school. I have a problem with picking my skin, its not too bad but for me its horrible. I bet if i asked for help (my parents) they would gladly give it to me, but im to embarrased to ask for help. I dont know whats gotten into me i play tennis and volleyball, i have a good family , and good friends, and i think i would actually be pretty if i didnt pick. I guess im the kind of person that needs help just acts like i dont need it but i do. i think i might have Dermotillomania. I dont know for sure but ive researched it and it seems like i have symtoms. IMy family is not wealthy, but i think we could afford getting help , but im to embarrased. Thanks.

A: Thank you for writing. And thank you for having the courage to confront your problem. Skin picking is not only unattractive. It is also potentially dangerous because you are vulnerable to infection. Believe me: Your parents would much rather get you the help you need to overcome this habit before it gets so serious that you are battling an infection.

Dermatillomania is an impulse control disorder. There are similarities with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Once a person gets started with this kind of habit, it is difficult to stop on one’s own. Fortunately, there are treatment options. There are medicines that can help you control the impulse and there is therapy to help you find less self-harming ways to deal with whatever anxiety may be underlying the habit. Get yourself into treatment and you can conquer the urge.

Please follow your own good instincts and ask for help now. If you could have stopped picking on your own, you would have already done it. You describe a generally healthy and happy life. If you keep picking, people are going to start to ask you what is going on with your skin. That could make you withdraw from the activities and friends you enjoy which would be a shame. Get the help you need now and you can build on the good start you’ve made for your teen years.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Dec 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Do I have Dermatillomania?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/12/09/do-i-have-dermatillomania/

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