Dermatillomania 411

Dermatillomania literally means “Skin Pulling Madness”.

This is also known as Skin Picking Disorder.

It is a BFRB, a Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior.

A BFRB is an OCD Related Disorder



Dermatillomania aka skin picking disorder is currently classified as an “obsessive-compulsive and related disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). While they also recognize the disorder as “Excoriation disorder”, as an organization that serves the people, we continue to use the name dermatillomania and aka skin picking disorder, to help bridge the gap between medical studies and everyday search-engine fueled information.



The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria include:

  • Recurrent skin picking that results in skin lesions
  • Repeated attempts to stop the behavior
  • The symptom cause clinically significant distress or impairment
  • The symptoms are not caused by a substance, medical or dermatological condition
  • The symptoms are not better explained by another psychiatric disorder


Facts about Dermatillomania


What is Skin Picking Disorder?

This mental illness is characterized by the repetitive picking of one’s own skin, which we break down into two main groups “scanning” and “focused”. Individuals who struggle with skin picking disorder squeeze, pick, touch, rub, scratch, flick, scrape, pop or dig into their skin in an attempt to improve perceived imperfections, often resulting in tissue damage, discoloration, infection, or scarring. Scanning picking is often more mindless where Finger Energy seems to take over whereas Focused picking is more often when an induvial is stuck, fixated on an area, often losing hours without knowing time has gone by.

What is a BFRB?

Skin picking disorder is one of a group of behaviors known as body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), self-grooming behaviors in which individuals pull, pick, scrape, or bite their own hair, skin, or nails, resulting in damage to the body. Many people are more familiar with its sister disorder, Trichotillamnaia- Hair pulling disorder.

When is picking a problem?

Research indicates the 2%-5% of the population picks their skin to an extent that causes tissues damage and impairs quality of life. This is when human grooming behaviors exist at a compulsive level, creating a level of severity for the skin picking disorder that may be life pervasive.


Facts about Dermatillomania 

  • 75% of people affected are female. 
  • The behavior typically begins in early adolescence, although skin picking disorder can begin at any age.
  • There is no cure for skin picking disorder.
  • There is hardly any funding or medical studies or research behind the disorder which aids in the dismal knowledge for and treatment of the behavior. 
  • Remission rate is under 30%.


My Experience with Dermatillomania