Individuals from countries all over the world like the United States,Canada,United Kingdom, New Zealand, Africa and Australia have shared their inspiring stories. Join them by sharing yours!
Sharing you story allows you to:
- Take control back from this controlling disorder
- Lessen the stigma that this is merely a bad habit
- Find & relate to others suffering with this as well
- Challenge what society perceives as 'Bad Skin'
- Advocate a mental illness in much need of attention
"I have struggled with Dermatillomania for as long as I can remember but I only discovered that it had a name last year. Before that, I always thought that I was the only one who picked my skin so much. I felt gross, lonely and like no one could understand. My parents would always tell me to « just stop » and make me feel bad about it. They used to make fun of the scars on my face and to justify it by saying that if I really wanted to stop, I could. It used to make me feel so bad. But recently, I talked about it to them and they are starting to understand.
At first, I thought that I didn’t fit the diagnosis criteria because I never realized how big of an impact it had on my life. I had always lived with it, so it was all I knew. But thinking about it, I realized that I was always uncomfortable wearing bathing suits or just summer clothing, when I don’t feel really ashamed of my body. I realized that the problem were my scars. The remarks people would make, the disgusted look when they would shake my hand (I mostly pick my fingers). I remember when I was younger wondering what was wrong with my fingers, why weren’t they pretty like everyone else’s?
Sometimes I don’t notice I’m picking until there’s blood all over my hands or my clothes or the sheet of paper I’m writing on and it’s so embarrassing.
But now, I know I’m not the only one and I know that I don’t have to blame myself for my condition. It will take time but I will learn to love my scars. I want to be an advocate for Dermatillomania and to raise awareness." -Maëlle, France
"My first memories of picking were of the keratosis pilaris on my arms, but it wasn't me who did the picking. It was a learned behaviour, from my mom. She probably just didn't want me to be embarrassed, but maybe she also felt compelled to do it as well. She would ask if she could "pop" them, and sometimes I would say yes, even though I didn't enjoy it. Other times I would trade her "popping" them for things such as getting to watch another episode of TV, or her lying with me until I fell asleep. At first I hated it and thought it hurt, but it started my preoccupation with my skin. Eventually I would pick as well, always going over board and leaving red welts. Then I hit puberty and my face started to break out as well. Naturally, I only have very mild acne, but I constantly make it worse. I've never been diagnosed with anxiety, only phobias, but I always pick when I'm feeling stressed or nervous. It's like I zone out and enter a different world. For me it's a release and something I crave. During the day I know better, and never do it. Or even if I have a huge pimple I'll pop it and stop. But, at night I fall in to a trance in front of the mirror. And it can go on for hours. Hopefully one day I'll be able to stop." -Leah, 16
"I've been picking for almost half my life. I can vividly remember being in high school and a friend asking why my thumbs were so red and feeling as though I wanted to sink through the floor because I was so embarrassed. For me it's my thumbs, my scalp and my feet but it's mostly just my thumbs. I started picking because I was an anxious child, probably due to trauma. Sometimes it's subconscious. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes I do it because of a piece of skin that is bugging me and sometimes (mostly) it's because of anxiety. When you've been picking for so long it's extremely hard to stop because it's something you can control (although I sometimes feel completely helpless because of Dermatillomania) and when you're anxious, having something to focus on and distract yourself, at least for me, helps. I wish someone had told the me that was the anxious teen in high school that I wasn't alone. That I wasn't a freak for ripping off my skin and seeing blood under my fingernails from picking. At the time I felt like I was the only one in the world who did this to myself and that was a very lonely feeling. If you're struggling with this I want you to know you are not alone. Just knowing that can make a difference." -Tina, 29, OR
"I can't remember a time when I didn't have Dermatillomania. My mother tells me that I have a small scar on my nose, where two-year-old me wouldn't stop picking at a scab. 24 years later, I still struggle with skin picking, worsened by the fact that I suffer from hormonal acne.
I've tried every "life-hack" available to avoid picking, from downloading habit tracker apps, to asking my partner to literally monitor me while I wash my face at night (biggest pick time for me), and I've even tried wearing gloves during any downtime at home. Bandaids over spots don't work well either, because a bandaid is another thing to pick at.
I wish I could describe the urge to pick to people who don't have this disorder. I've definitely worked picking sessions into my nightly routine, and it's a tough habit to break. It feels automatic, and I often don't notice how much time has passed while in a picking session. There is also a feeling of satisfaction when you squeeze out a real good pimple or blackhead. However, looking at the aftermath once Ive finished destroying my face, I almost want to cry at the huge red blotches that I'll have to cover up tomorrow. I'm also aware that most, if not all, pimples should be left alone and they will heal nicely, but this disorder doesn't care.
Even when I'm not having a picking session, my fingertips are nearly constantly scanning my face, back, chest and scalp for skin discrepancies that I can pick or peel. I very frequently have to remind myself to stop "scanning" in public because it's probably weird and gross to other people, especially when I do pull a scab out of my hair. I almost don't care, but that's the disorder talking.
Lately I've gathered the courage to do and post make up looks in which I don't use concealer. I didn't know how people would react. But turns out, I've inspired other derma folks to have more confidence in their blemished faces. I've gotten such sweet feedback from folks in our online BFRB / derma community, and that has in turn boosted my own confidence in my bare face. I'm so thankful I've found this community, because now I know I'm not alone." -Rebecca, 26, NYC
"I have Dermatillomania. It’s also known as Excoriation Disorder or chronic skin picking. It’s part of the body-focused repetitive behavior area of OCD, characterized by the compulsive need to expel real and perceived flaws from the skin, especially when I’m experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety in my everyday life. Since I was about seven, I have spent hours upon hours tearing away at my skin, causing awful, deep scarring and embarrassing red marks across my body, all while feeling completely helpless to stop (it’s okay if you don’t understand why, because I don’t either). I’m sharing this because I’m getting really tired of hiding this part of me and being alone in this struggle. This actually afflicts 1 in 20 people so that may mean out of my nearly 1,000 followers, I can let 40-50 know that they aren’t alone. And that you are more than your skin and your obsessive looping thoughts and no matter how much the world or your own brain tells you you’re not, you ARE still perfect just the way you are and you are so much more than just your flesh and blood and people will love and support you even on the days you feel like you can’t for yourself. This journey of self acceptance and self help has been 17 years in the making and I bet it’ll be many more before I am through. I have good days and awful days and you’ll be able to see them catalogued here, no make up, no covering up, all me. • The clay mask in the first picture was one of my many attempts to “save face” but if therapy and reflection has shown me anything, it’s that this change starts with me, so I’m starting here, and #pickingme over my Dermatillomania." -@frankiabraham
"Weird but real.
Well, it started when I was dating a man who was nice but had OCD. Everything had to be perfect around him for him to feel in control.
He was so particular that every living moment with him, I felt picked on, ironic huh?
I had ADHD and Depression and was taking Ritalin at the time.
I thought that the itching was coming from the meds. But I had been on it so long that it was a non-issue. This man's problems caused him to pick on me about everything. Soon my self-esteem suffered, my blood pressure went up, and out the door, I had to go. It went on for long after I left, but stopped. I went 9 or so years coming and going but it never got bad or unbearable. Until I moved into my now husbands house, then it can back with a vengeance. Now I was picking but digging into my skin as well. I was treated for infections every so often. Embarrassed and ashamed, I would need to get acrylic nails put on to stop the digging. It got terrible then went away for ten years. But my skin was damaged to the point that every time I bumped up to something, it would break the skin open and itch until I bled — what a vicious cycle. But again I must pick men that like to pick on a woman because my husband picks on me, not as bad as the other guy, but enough to set me off. Or stress me out, that my nerves start to itch.
I have heard it said that what goes on with our outside, also goes on our insides and likewise..
So for me, I had to learn to stand up to the pickers and bullies and tell them to Frig off.
The picking and digging have subsided somewhat every day.
I read a book by Louise Hay-Heal Your Life. And it helped." -Anonymous
*TW SEXUAL ASSAULT*
"I started picking after sexual abuse by my father and my mother getting divorced, altho she claimed she never knew what he'd done to me. A year later, the older brother of a neighborhood friend raped me and said I'd have a baby as soon as I became a woman. I picked in grade school, flea bites on my ankles became bloody sores, sticking to my white socks. My mom remarried to a man who abused my sisters and I for over five years and I just picked more and more, digging into a sore below my knee that's left a terrible scar that I carry to this day. I've been married and divorced, feel unwanted and unwantable. Now I am 67, picking every day; haven't had a mammogram in over five years because of the sores on my breasts. I also now have Venous Insufficiency which has led to sores on both legs; they have to heal so I can wear compression stockings or I'll lose part of my right leg, at least. I haven't known what to do and feel so lost, so alone. No one seems to understand and I have to get the nerve to say something before I end up killing myself from infections. Please advise me of any help I can get in Oregon. I can't live this way any longer." -Anonymous
"Thinking back, I remember my skin picking starting in 3rd grade, after my family moved. I began picking at the hangnails on my fingers, the eczema on the back of my neck, the skin in folds of my ears. Once puberty hit, my picking become almost completely focused on my face, and has remained that way ever since. I denied that I had any sort of problem until at some point in college I stumbled across an article on Facebook written by a girl who struggled with Dermatillomania. I felt my heart sink - this girl and I had the same symptoms, meaning I had to finally admit that I had a problem. Filled with shame and embarrassment, I was terrified to talk to anyone about it. When I finally mustered up the courage to tell my mom, she wouldn't listen. Multiple therapists over the next few years also wouldn't listen or take me seriously. It's taken until this year, at the age of 25, to finally find an amazing therapist who is trained in OCD and skin picking behaviors who has been willing to help me work through this problem. It has not been an easy process, and I still very much struggle, but I have more hope for my future now than I ever have before!" -Claire, 25
"Been battling this for as long as I can remember. Picking started as a self harm for me. A way to cope and survive. And now it has taken over my life. My scars are still here, and although the past MONTHS (like 6 months prob) have been so so good I’ve relapsed and picked a lot last night and I just can’t take it. Came across this on Instagram and seeing how many others have this condition makes me feel so much better and like I’m not alone. Thank you. You do not know how much just seeing this page means to me." -Kayla, 20, New York
"I am 27 years old, and remember starting to pick when I was in 4th grade, it gradually started getting worse over the years, now I pick every part of my body almost, I am so embarrassed. I can't wear tee shirts, dresses, skirts, shorts..it makes me sad...I pick to the point they start to get infected, but I still pick..and I have to get antibiotic shots because they are short of turning into a terrible infection. I want to stop, I have tried everything and anything. But I can't. It makes me so miserable to look at myself now.." -Gabrielle, 27, Georgia
"Picking is something that has affected me for about a decade of my life. That probably doesn’t seem to long, to say, a 30 year old person. But as a 14 year old girl, thats 90% of my life used picking. As a 3 year old, I used to hide while picking my fingers because my parents would get mad at me and tell me “stop”. I guess thats kind of the messed up world we live in. 3 year olds getting stressed to the point where they develop mental illnesses.
My picking became very serious around the time I was in grade 7, so about 12 years old. My mother developed Breast Cancer. I was very afraid, because my nanny (her mother) had passed away from cancer a short 16 years before. I didn’t want to loose my mom. Whenever I would think about loosing her, my picking would get worse, and I began having panic attacks more frequently then I used to. But then I realized something. What does she want me to do about it? She always wanted me to stop. She was the one who got me to all my appointments, purchased my medication, etc. So in that moment I made a choice. I was going to do it for her, because after what she was going through, this seemed easy. I have never been more wrong in my whole life. It’s.Very.Hard.
I’ve honestly tried everything. Fidgets, therapy, support groups. You name it, I’ve done it. However, nothing ever seemed to work for me. I developed this mind set that I was ‘screwed’ and that there wasn’t anything else I could do about it. I began feeling very depressed. Trapped in this bubble with no escape.
I am now in my freshman year of high school, and Dermatillomania is still a daily struggle. Being in high school is hard enough, add an anxiety disorder, and Dermatillomania and you have a recipe for disaster. And yes, it can be embarrassing to tell my teacher why I can’t write, or ask my friends to carry my books for me (because of the pain) but I know that one day I will get over this. I have to stay strong. I have to. What other choice to I have? I am strong. But I am also tired.
To all those struggling with Dermatillomania, my one piece of advice is get help. The sooner the better, because the longer you stay focused and work at it, the more likely you are to grow out of it. You aren’t weird, you aren’t diseased. Don’t let them hatters talk crap to you because you are beautiful. You are a soldier with battle scars thats all. Life isn’t easy and thats a fact, I know. I’ve been there." -Diana, 14
"I've been picking for over half my life. I suppose it started as a way to relieve anxiety from growing up in an abusive home. I vividly remember a friend of mine asking me why my thumbs were so red and I pulled the sleeves of my sweater down over my hands because I was ashamed. This illness is terrible. It can make you feel like you are completely out of control. There have been many times where I've lost track of time while picking only to see that my skin is bleeding again. There needs to be more awareness for Dermatillomania. For so long I felt like a freak and like I was alone in my skin picking. I want people who struggle with this monster to know they are not alone." -Tina Blacksmith, 28, Oregon
"My first memory of picking was when I was probably 12 and my sister told me to just "pop" the whitehead on my forehead that was bugging me. Of course, to her, it was no big deal to pop a zit here and there, but what began for me was 10+ years of picking my face, not going to social events because of embarrassment, or skipping class because I was so ashamed to go to high school with sores all over my face. This issue is so much bigger than just "picking"...it gave me an outlet to zone out, forget about my worries, (in the present) de-stress, and ultimately forget that what I was actually doing was making my face MUCH worse and causing more stress. I'm sure others can relate to trying various forms of masks, lotions, etc. and hoping "maybe this one will be the one that fixes my problem/acne". The shame I felt for the last 10+ years is so consuming and unnecessary. Recently I decided that enough is enough and that I was going to pick a healthier life over picking my face. I am still picking but have started keeping a log, going to counseling, knitting, etc. which have all helped immensely! It's so nice to know that there are other people that have this and that it doesn't have to define me!!" -Danielle, 25
My problem started as a child when I had a cold sore on the corner of my mouth and I mindlessly picked at it til it covered half of my chin. I have never been able to stop my dermatillomania and over the past few years it has progressed to me picking at my heels and soles of my feet to the point where they bleed and it is extremely painful to walk. I don’t know what to do because I am too ashamed to talk to a doctor about it. -Angela, 57, U.K.
"I have been suffering from skin picking on my legs since I was super young then it continued to my arms then to my face when I began to get acne. The ones on my legs and arms were only being picked from mosquito bites or an injury. People ask all the time what’s wrong. Or if they’re bruises. I can’t ever tell the truth. It’s disgusting. I just wish I can erase all my scars and pretend I never had this problem." -Marlee, 24, Oklahoma
"I had a phobia of bees, and from that phobia came the need to control my surroundings. When things felt out of control, I would sit for hours and sort little beads into a sorting tray, repeating the processes when I was finished sorting. It escalated to picking my face and body when I started having problems with a high school boyfriend. When "Dr. Pimple Popper" came to Youtube, I would obsess over her videos and even bought my own "extractor..." only to realize it was doing a lot more damage to my skin than picking alone. I've had kids ask their parents what's wrong with my face...I hate going out in public, it's easier to just hide indoors. Every time I go out, I have to wear makeup...but the problem is I have really sensitive skin. So, each time I put makeup on, I break out really bad (which starts the cycle all over again). Though I've done this before, tonight I decided to through away my extractor. I pray for comfort and the ability to not feel the urge to pick." -Katie, 24, Texas
"I've had this since I was in elementary school and it has ruled so much of my life. I focus on my hands, feet, face, arms, and hands. Primarily my hands. The unfortunate thing is that I was a flight medic where open lesions stopped me from this career. People would point at me, comment, cringe, in college a woman beat me up, and people have such horrible responses. Especially when my bloody fingers touched books, papers, keyboards, and food.” -Tania, 46, Wisconsin
"I want to know what it feels like to feel confident again and not have to cover myself up with concealer and foundation. I don't want to hide anymore. I desperately want to get better and experience clear skin, so I can start truly living without feeling constantly bad for myself. People around me like my friends, siblings and parents know that I'm a beautiful girl with goals and ambitions in life, and my Dermatillomania is what's holding me back. I'll do anything to make it better." -Sierra, 17
“I constantly pick my fingers and nails, my fingers are sore, my mum has bought me fidget spinners and stress balls and nothing works, I am at secondary school now and I’m embarrassed cause I can’t stop.” -Paul, 12, Great Britain
"I had no idea that organisations such as yours exists. I always thought I was the only one who has this problem ... It feels like the scars don't disappear, also because I keep scratching. This makes me feel self conscious. I feel guilty because I feel like I am betraying God by abusing the body he gave me, yet I struggle to stop." -Thureya, 36, South Africa
"After doing some research, I'm pretty certain that my brother has Dermatillomania. He has not been diagnosed with it, but has been diagnosed with OCD. He spends a lot of time picking the skin on his feet. He has lost toe nails and the toes are bloody a lot of the time. There are many scabs. He's very sensitive to this so it's hard to talk to him about it. It worries and scares me because he is diabetic and wounds to his feet are very dangerous." -Sara
"I was diagnosed with Dermatillomania in 2016. Since then I've tried on my own to stop with some success, but when I get a pimple or piece of loose skin it's right back at it again." -Marianne, 63
"I pull and peel the skin off the tips of my fingers... I have always been too embarrassed to talk about to ANYONE. And I am over sixty years old. I have done this since as far back as I can remember. It started with nail biting in grade school. I feel very alone in the world with this." -Dawn
"As if its not painful enough or embarrassing enough everyone around me always point out my skin, tell me to stop picking holes in my flesh, and I often get accused of being a drug addict." -Nikola
"I have a impulsive urge to keep picking my face, arms and legs. It's affecting my life and my relationship with my boyfriend. I'm scarring myself too and it's making me feel self conscious, I don't want to do anything or leave my home!" -Amanda
"I'm constantly picking my skin around my fingers, to the point where they bleed. I still continue to pick at them and bite the skin. I suffer with anxiety and I've tried everything to get myself to stop, my fingers have even gotten infected." -Kirsty, 20
"I think the one thing that truly got to me the most was when I finally said to myself, "this is madness - by definition - madness! In all these years of picking your skin, it's never ONCE made it better in any way - it has only ever made it WORSE. After that, any time I felt an imperfection in my skin that was starting to drive me crazy, I reminded myself to stop, breathe, and be rational. I visualized the worst aftereffects of a picking session and asked myself which I would rather live with. Today, I'm proud to say my picking is well under control (not without the occupational moments of brief weakness!)" -Kristin
"My daughter who is turning 15 soon has been picking and scarring her body since for 7 or more years. She has been to counselors for years and nothing helps." -Connie
"I've been picking my skin (on my face) for 30 years. I have in the past attended TLC meetings. They were fabulous. I still pick but not as bad as I used to, but I do ever single day. It sucks. I'm guessing I will forever to a degree. " -Nicole, 47
“I suffer from Dermatillomania, I compulsively pick at my hands, face, scalp, lips, back, chest, and feet. I would like to spread awareness on the disorder as well as gather resources on how to improve my quality of life. I don’t know anyone else who suffers from this disorder..” -Jessica, 16, California
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