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Skin Peeling & Picking

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I have been picking at my skin since I was around 8. I’m 20 now and the bottoms of my feet are hard and calloused and I reguarly peel skin off them until they bleed, making it hard to walk. I struggle with depression and anxiety and I was wondering it this behavior is tied to those? I want to stop. But I don’t know how. Does this count as self harm? I have cut and burned before but I haven’t dont that since I was 18.

Skin Peeling & Picking

Answered by on -


Your skin peeling and picking may be associated with your untreated depression and anxiety. It may be a maladaptive response to your distress.

Some people overeat. Some people use alcohol or drugs. Some people pull out their hair or gamble, etc. None are effective treatments for depression and anxiety. They are ineffective because they cause more problems for the sufferer. Peeling and picking your skin seems to be your method of coping. It may be soothing and relaxing. Though they may provide you with temporary relief, it does not cure the problem. Clearly, your method is not working.

Yes, your behavior could be characterized as self-harm because hard calluses and bleeding are the direct result of your actions. That is the very definition of self-harm.

This behavior is not beyond your control. Consider the fact that you probably do not engage in it at work or while you are in the presence of certain people or perhaps any other people. It most likely occurs when you’re alone, when you allow yourself the freedom to indulge in the behavior. You can make a different choice. With treatment, this can change.

The most effective and efficient solution for this problem is counseling and/or medication. One of the best types of treatments for depression and anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy. Contact your PCP for a referral for a cognitive behavioral therapist. Another way to find a therapist is by clicking on the “find help” tab, at the top of this page. Good luck with your efforts. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Skin Peeling & Picking

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Skin Peeling & Picking. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 24 Jul 2018 (Originally: 26 Jul 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 24 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.