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

 


Email us your story

Ananymous

"I struggled all day yesterday with this post. I wanted to post something to show that I had gotten my 90s movie tank in, and wanted to show it off and talk about it. After taking roughly two bajillion photos, and meticulously editing the scarring and lesions on my face out of it, I still hated all of them. Then I started thinking about some of my favorite 90s movies— Tommy Boy, that teaches you to just be yourself, or My Girl, that teaches you that life is short, so cherish the happy moments. So I’m done hating my skin. This is the face of a woman with obsessive compulsive disorder- one of my main tics is dermatillomania- that causes me to obsessively think about picking and scratching at my skin until I compulsively do it. It’s also the face of a mom, wife, daughter, friend, artist, musician, history buff, pop culture junkie, feminist, ocean conservation enthusiast..... and so many other things. In the words of one Johnny Depp circa Benny and Joon (1993) “except for being a little mentally ill, she’s pretty normal.” Here’s to awareness, and radical self-love" -Tessa Cates, @hopelessnostalgicdesign

"I wanted to share this photo of all the scars on my arm caused by picking. Most of my body is like this. It all started when my brother died in 2006 when a drunk driver knocked down 3 of us. I was left seriously injured and am now partially disabled. I tried counseling but I found that the only person who can help me, is me. It's still bad, but not as bad as I was." -Steve, @stevehblount60

"Dermatillomania is defined as “a mental illness related to OCD. It is characterized by repeated picking at one's own skin which results in skin lesions and causes significant disruption in one's life.” it’s something I don’t talk about often (especially here on instagram), mostly because I feel really ashamed about it, and because it isn’t pretty. • when people work towards raising awareness about mental illnesses + mental health, many tend to gravitate towards the ones that are (for lack of a better word) *easier* to talk about. ones that can be glamorized easily, because we like things that come in shiny, romantic packages. • my mental illnesses are not pretty, and although I do always try my best to describe my experiences in a way that’s truthful yet sensitive to others who suffer, this is the physical manifestation of what my anxiety does to me on the inside. • it’s been almost 5 months since I’ve stopped taking my birth control, and this is the most I’m willing to show you of what my natural skin currently looks like (yeah, there’s a filter here). coming off of the pill has made my acne return in ways that I haven’t seen since puberty, and it’s created a playground for my dermatillomania. • so here’s a reminder to myself (and whoever else needs this): this current struggle doesn’t make you less beautiful. your scars will heal as they always do. your anxiety will subside, and too shall pass. this doesn’t make you less of an artist. and most importantly, this struggle will never make you less loveable or loved. you are perfectly imperfect just as you are, and everything is going to be okay." -Mila, @astoldbymila

"Things Not to Say to People With #Dermatillomania - I think a big part of awareness of Dermatillomania is that it’s not something any of us want to do. Anything people can think of to not do it we have. You can’t fight an irrational behavior with rational solutions." -Chelsea Robinson, @sunpie989

"A preview of my most recent photography project. If you guys haven't heard me talk about it before or aren't aware, I suffer from Dermatilliomania. Dermatilliomania by definition is a "obsessive-compulsive and related disorder, the condition is characterized by the repetitive destruction of ones skin. while you cannot see every individual scar, in this photo I drew a red x over every visible scar on my arms and face. In the fall of last year I had 110+ scars and counting. of course this number has probably grown, but thankfully do to vitamin e treatments and support from my family, my scars have been becoming less and less visible by the month. If you are interested in learning more about Dermatilliomania or suffer from it yourself please go to pickingme.org or @pickingmefdn" -@gracieegirly

"So, I have been officially diagnosed with Dermatillomania. For those who don't know what it is, Dermatillomania is characterized by recurrent picking at one's own skin. It's a body-focused repetitive behavior, OCD-related. Which means I'm frequently picking at my fingers, my feet, and every kind of imperfections on my skin. Due to anxiety, due to impatience, or just because "I need to". Sometimes it gets better. Sometimes it gets worse. Idk why. And.. This excoriation disorder isn't very well known. When one of my wounds got infected recently, a doctor told me that he didn't have to treat it, because "this is a behavior thing". Thank you, dude! But I won't stop that easily??? Or else I wouldn't be doing it at all??? So pls help me??? Anyway. My t-shirt illustrate this disorder. I bought it as soon as it was released. Because, truly, this is my oldest disorder. I can't just make jokes about it every time, I want to bring awareness, too." -@eilwyred

"This is what Dermatillomania looks like...It’s a skin picking disorder. I only recently discovered that there is actually a name for this and that there are many others out there like me who also pick skin, pull hair, bite nails, and bite their lips and inside of their cheeks. It’s a REAL disorder that NEEDS more awareness! Let’s come out of hiding and promote awareness for #Dermatillomania" -@jstarling0327

"Dermatillomania is my coping mechanism. I was molested by my father as a young child which has allowed anxiety, depression, and self doubt to creep into my brain chemistry. I’m not gonna go any further into that part, but as a result I’m usually stuck in my head, overthinking and second-guessing every. little. thing. And while I’m in there, before I know it, my hands wander. I pick. I bleed. And I pick some more. My skin feels like it’s burning. I go into a state of trance, and I can be stuck there sometimes for hours. This has been something I’ve dealt with my whole life. But it got much worse when I left home for college in 2008. Showering takes me a really long time because I usually get distracted by my skin. I wear clothes to cover up from head to toe even on the hottest of days. I’m supposed to be a bridesmaid in September this year and I’m kinda nervous about what I’ll have to wear. However, last year I started a health and fitness journey because I was approaching almost 300 lbs and feeling seriously down on myself. All these little red spots on my body were just like 1000 cherries on top of a shit sundae. So I started exercising and feeding my body the right foods. I cut out gluten and dairy. I’ve been drinking a superfood shake that I SWEAR helps my skin and mental clarity. Since then, I’ve lost over 100 lbs and I’m now a health & fitness coach. My mindset is still a work in progress but it’s SO MUCH more of a positive space to exist in than ever before. For the first time, I feel like I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, however cliche that may be. I’m starting to branch out of my comfort zone and wear clothes that show more skin. I know picking will forever be apart of me. It’s a general grooming habit and everyone does it. So there’s no way of getting around it. But I’ve shown myself in losing weight that I can overcome anything. And I will definitely overcome this." -Cydney Straub, @cydney.straub

"Having to constantly inform people that I am not, in fact, a meth addict." -@v_raine

"The people close to me know how uncomfortable I am in front of a camera, mainly because of my skin, but I have taken this opportunity to fully step out of my comfort zone. For 6+ years I have suffered from an OCD that has controlled my life more than I like to admit. I have lived in shame and denial trying to hide the thing I hate most about myself, my skin. It's not easy to accept that I have a mental disorder, but I’ve realized that I need to fully embrace every part of me, even the parts I don’t like. I no longer want to live in fear of people staring or what they might think or say. 
Because of this disorder I have become so introverted. Choosing not to go out, not because I’d rather lay in bed and watch movies (which is partly true), but because I feel ugly and I can’t wear normal spaghetti strap dresses like other women. Having to find something that’s cute but covers the scars and scabs on my shoulders, chest, and arms. Feeling stupid because my outfit isn’t weather appropriate because I’m hiding under clothes. Worrying about people saying “girl aren’t you hot” or “why don’t you take that off” are the encounters I avoid. When people ask about my skin I lie and say it’s a condition, as if it were something I was born with and couldn’t control, because the truth that I do it to myself is too embarrassing and shameful, because I hate myself for it. 
Scared they won’t understand what an OCD is. 
Scared of the judgments and stigmas that might come with the truth. 
But it’s ok to be scared, be scared and do it anyway! 'These scars? 
They are my torment and my peace. 
They are the stories of my life.' - yarrow

I don’t wear tank tops, tube tops, or camisoles. I don’t go swimming; the courage to step out in a bathing suit is like climbing a mountain. I don’t do any activities that would require me to show more skin than I’m comfortable with. I almost didn’t go on my first spring break because of my skin. 
Summers are the worst for me. For years I have convinced myself that I don’t like summer because of the heat, when the truth is I can’t hide my skin like I can in the winter. I don’t buy a lot of summer clothes because most I’m not brave enough to wear. I tailor my shopping, fun, and entire life around hiding my skin. These are the thoughts and decisions I have lived with. Its exhausting and debilitating. 
Anxiety, stress, and boredom are my main triggers. I have picked for hours at a time, leaving behind bloody wounds. The scars and scabs have even interfered with me getting jobs. I’ve tried so many different solutions, including silly putty, stress balls, wearing gloves, cutting my fingernails etc. I pick holes in my skin that risk infection. Bleeding is a norm. It doesn’t even hurt anymore. The pain is actually soothing. It’s a compulsive addiction, a coping mechanism. It's an addiction I can never escape from. A change of environment like rehab can help drug addicts and alcoholics, but for me, the culprit is my own hands. Always there, always tempting me.The anger I feel after causes me to do it more. It’s an endless cycle. When I relapse I stay in bed all day, sad and feeling hideous. I dream of being a normal woman, wearing, buying, and doing whatever I want and having clear skin. 
These are the ugliest parts of my disorder. 
This is my truth 'We are so much more than our scars'

Excoriation disorder, Dermatillomania, Skin Picking, whatever you want to call it, I want to raise awareness about it. I am confident apart for my skin and the disorder, but now it’s time I be confident with it. Because there is nothing worse than hating the skin you're in. I can’t just love parts of me. I can’t expect anyone to love and accept all of me when I can’t love and accept all of myself. So now I’m on a mission. To share my story and not live in fear. To wear whatever I want and be ok with anyone asking questions. To not lie and hide my truth. To leave shame in the past. I will live with this for the rest of my life, but that’s ok with me now. I will love me anyway.

~So here is my testimony to you...~
You only get one life, so live it freely.
Free from fear
Free from shame
Free from self-doubt
Free from insecurities
The path to self love is not a gradual, increasing straight line, but a bumpy one with many hills and valleys.
Whatever you are going through, don’t run from it. Embrace it. Don’t let it control you. Take back your power. 
Be unapologetic and tell your truth, because you have nothing to lose and literally everything to gain!
If you want change you have to be willing to be uncomfortable. 
You are strong , you are capable, and most importantly you are worthy of happiness.
I hope that sharing my story inspires people to practice transparency and to fully commit to loving yourself.
'She conquered her demons and wore her scars like wings' -atticus"
-Taya, @_killakent

"I am soooo grateful to have found your site! I have been a picker since pre-teen days. It was and is so controlling my life.. It determines whether I even venture out the day after the event. Now its becoming constant. Thank you for your site, I have never told anyone about my compulsive picking and I'm sure people think I'm on drugs, I'm not and I'm so ashamed, because its something in me that's messed up. Thank you." -Cameron, 56, New Orleans

"It took two major deaths in my life to bring my ugly habit to light. As summer came around, my family would gasp and ask “What happened to your legs?!” And I didn’t really even know what to say. All I knew is after a stressful day at work, I’d find myself sitting on the shower floor with tweezers in my hand digging at any imperfections in my legs. After I saw the shocked response of my family, I only wore pants. Even in 90 degree weather. I was afraid to go swimming for fear of what people would say about my legs. It completely took over my life. After letting my therapist know, I am stating the healing process. I started to search Instagram for pictures about dermatillomania and finally saw legs like mine. I saw women in shorts with those little purple spots I had grown so used to. I hope someone can see my legs and feel the same way. You are not alone. Your legs don’t define you." -Anonymous

"M e n t a l h e a l t h a w a r e n e s s : I never post pictures of my face on instagram and there are a few reasons why. The main one is because Dermatillomania has affected me in a way that has left me pretty unsure with how I feel about my appearance. Mostly all that i have is self criticism. For years I have chosen to forego sharing pictures of happy moments because of my skin. I actually think people are straight up lying to my face if they compliment it. And I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t constantly biting my nails or picking ruthlessly at my skin. I sometimes sit on the bathroom counter until 2am, scraping into every pore until they bleed. I have scratched away at every bump and imperfection on my arms and legs. I fall asleep with ice packs on my face so that I wake up with less swelling. I’ve missed meetups with friends, fun parties and even stayed home from classes in college. I honestly would have gotten looks for the redness and welts and scabs I developed. The strange thing is that just by looking at me now, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell. My skin looks fine at the moment, thanks to a period of healing and dealing with the things that give me the urge to pick. But that is always subject to change. You would also think that picking at your skin would be something easy to control...but for me it isn’t. I have dealt with Dermatillomania since i was very young and I am not sure if i’ll ever be able to shake it. Maybe i will finally gain the confidence to speak to a professional about it. Right now, the only things that have helped me improve are the support from kevin and my family as well as /r/ compulsiveskinpicking on reddit. I honestly thought I was a weirdo my entire life until I read other stories on online forums and blogs. my main point here is that without sharing my experience and looking for a little help and support, things would have stayed the same. Please never think that everyone has it together 100%. We all struggle with things silently. Social media is especially toxic with all of its filters and carefully curated posts. Since it is mental health awareness month, I just wanted to share a little bit of my own struggle. No matter what you are going through, you aren’t alone. Do not be afraid to speak up. It is okay to struggle as long as you know that there are options and resources to help you find ways to feel better. As for me, I am going to try my best to take care of my face and I will no longer be afraid of posting pictures. I love myself too much for that." -Breanna Little @breedesu

"I want to be real with y’all for a second and kinda open up about something that has been an insecurity for me. Clearly I’m human and capable of flaws.. I have acne scars all over. I mostly wear makeup and cover my back and chest. I’ve learned how to present myself while still being concealed. Having anxiety and self-image issues almost all my life have manifested itself into Dermatillomania, also known as Excoriation Disorder. Long story short I pick at my skin. It’s a form of ocd, better known as body focused repetitive behavior BFRB. Im healing now and I’m not picking as much. Being open about my secret in a way is also healing me. I want to be able to use my own experiences to help others like me who struggle with anxiety, depression or any other type of mental health issues. In reverence of mental health awareness month , I want to offer myself as a testimony and I want to help start the uncomfortable conversations needed in our communities. The only way we can better our neighborhoods is by starting with ourselves. The Bronx needs more safe spaces to talk about mental health and ways we can come together to help others #fightthestigma." -@thebronxcurl

"Vulnerable moment: I have Dermatillomania, a condition that many don't know about. I've ran across several medical professionals that had no idea what it was. Also known as Excoriation or Skin Picking Disorder, is the physical manifestation of a mental disorder. Often times, picking of any kind is a manifestation of an Obssessive Disorder, be it OCD, OCPD, BPD or any other of the many on the list. Most people know about Trichotillomania because it's something that has been talked about in movies, books, on tv, etc. It wasn't until I was 23 that I found out that I wasn't alone in my struggle. There was a name for it. After that, I did lots of research about the disorder, possible causes, treatments and all that jazz. Unfortunately, there really is no "treatment" for Dermatillomania, only mild therapies to help work on whatever obsessive disorder is driving the action. CBT, DBT, even behavioral modification are regularly tried, but show little success.

Everyone suffering from this suffers differently. For me, you can tell when I'm struggling with my OCD because my face gets really bad. In turn, my OCD generally acts up when things in my life feel out of my control. I've been struggling with that a lot lately, and as a result, lately my face has been worse than it's been in a long time. I wish I could explain to you what happens with skin picking for me. It's not a good feeling, it's not a relief, it's simply a expression of my obsessive thought patterns. Sometimes I'm fully aware of what I'm doing but justify it with "oh I'm just going to pop this one pimple..." and it gets out of control. Other times, I don't even realize what I'm doing until I'm bleeding. Either way, it feels like I can't stop myself it sure doesn't make anything better, but God damn if I can stop myself. I'm telling you all this because after years and years of being ashamed, I'm done. Honestly, I've been done with it for awhile now but this is the first time I've really had a chance to show you all the true destruction I cause sometimes. I have way too much that I beat myself up about to let this be one of those things. #PickingMe

I want beautiful skin. I want to not pick. I want to be able to look at myself and feel beautiful, but I can't right now. I hope this resonates with at least one person out there. I hope I can make just one other person know that they aren't alone. You aren't alone." -Darling Mia Mayhem, NY, @siriuslestrange_stomach

"When I was in my preteen phase I started to develop normal, small, amounts of acne. Really just a few whiteheads or blackheads, and my older sister loved to pop them. Eventually I would pop them myself. A lot of times tho, I would just create big ugly scabs. Later I ran out of flaws to pick on my face so I started scanning my back and shoulder area to pick more. People used to confront me and ask if I was okay psychologically, or if I was purposely trying to harm myself. I eventually got better at hiding it. I would still pick a lot, and enough to sometimes create scabs but I would stop before it got really bad. Then in the morning I’d cover it all up with makeup. Now today, there isn’t a place on my body that I haven’t picked. I. Pick. Everywhere. Right now there is a quarter sized infected scab/ wound on my leg. And scabs on my knees and elbows and even my groin area. I struggle to sleep through the night so now when I wake up around 2am I pick for at least an hour... and over and over in my head I tell myself “okay just this last one, and you’re done. Don’t look for anymore to pick, you’ll make it worse. So stop.” But I don’t listen to my own healthy thoughts anymore. I feel like a weirdo. A crazy person. People think that I’m on drugs. Everything is a trigger. If I get into an argument with mom and I’m lectured about whatever, in my head it translates to- “I’m a useless stupid person and I need to just pick at all my flaws and I’ll feel better.” Going into the bathroom at home with the light on is a trigger. Not wearing makeup is a trigger. Being nervous about seeing someone in person is a trigger. I’m so insecure about my skin. I wish I could trade with someone else in hope that if my skin was 100% perfect that I wouldn’t pick anymore.
I’m in therapy right now. Taking antidepressants as well, which is supposed to help the urge/ craving to pick. I relate so much to everyone’s story that I read and it feels so good to finally be understood. I always think- know one understands what it’s like. I want to run away from myself or be placed in a straitjacket so I can’t cause harm to myself. I’m hoping that one day I will really stop. And never again pick.
Until then, I’m trying to stay positive (it doesn’t always work) but, I’m so grateful that by doing research about this addictive habit, I’ve found resources of support. Just like an alcoholic needs AA meetings, being around people who understand the struggle is comforting. I hope everyone who reads this finds something beautiful about themselves today, and I’ll try to do the same."
-Miriah, 20, LA

"I have been a skin picker since I was a little girl. From places on my face, arms, and legs nothing has helped. When I go to dermatologists they just say "you need to quit picking!" Well that does no good when I need help to stop picking. I think a lot of people don't understand how much this disorder can effect your life. I have low self- esteem, always worry if people notice my spots, to it even effecting my relationship with my boyfriend. I am so happy that there is Picking Me to help people like me and bring awareness to the disorder. I can't wait to get involved and get help from people dealing with the same thing." -Halie, 26, OK

"Somedays when I pick at my skin I still feel beautiful and worthy red marks and all, other days not so much. On those better days though I like to take a selfie like this one which was right after a picking episode. I still have imperfections on my skin but there's other things about myself in the photo that I enjoy. Such as my ability to still be smiling at myself regardless, to enjoy my eyes in the natural lighting and my ever messy hair. It reminds me that there's more to me and more to be grateful for than just my skin on days like today when I feel like I can't see them because my skin is blinding me. I don't know if this could help anyone else but having the photos has helped me to feel more comfortable with my skin, it's imperfections and with looking past them" -Courtney B, 20, CO @courtsnewgroove

"I spent many years thinking I had “bad skin” but as touching and poking and prodding my face got worse and worse over the years I realized something else was going on. I have Dermatillomania, a Body-Focused Repeated Behavior (BFRB) ... I am not cured. This is something I deal with daily. It’s gotten significantly better but I relapse often. It requires internal work more than anything. Changing my thoughts and language about my skin is the hardest work but the most necessary. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need to connect about this. You are not alone. Thank you." -Ross M, NYC, @rosserinstyles

"2016 made 16 years of me silently battling with #BFRB (Body Focused Repetitive Behavior). I had no idea what it was however I knew it became worse as I was going through my separation, divorce, healing, to WHOLEness!

Although last year I still struggled with allowing certain uncontrollable situations and people to get to me I began to do more for ME because I LOVE me and attacks on my skin are attacks of the enemy! He wants me to down, insecure, have low confidence, etc. but not me devil!! So I CHOSE me by: Drinking more water, going (for the most part) gluten free based on a dr.’s recommendation, biweekly mani/pedi’s, getting massages more frequently, washing my face with all natural products, exfoliating my face using all natural products (sugar, coconut oil, honey and aloe Vera), not putting make up over open wounds trying to cover them but allowing them to breath, putting bandages on my face at night during idol time when my hands would roam, keeping 100% vitamin oil close by and my fingers far away from my face, stressing less, loving more, reading more, praying more, FOCUSING MORE ON ME! And I have to say November 2018 to now have felt like my PRIME! And I plan on it continuing!

SO, here’s to US not allowing anyone or anything to effect our PEACE!! @pickingmefdn Thanks for this campaign! Although it’s “hard” to put your “stuff” on display, it’s therapeutic!! We have to deal with those things that hold us back! Thank you to my friends and coworkers who love and support me even when I didn’t feel like my best self! Even with no make up on those days I came to work bare, bold and blemished! I love y’all!!" -Shemika Denise, Nashville, @iamshemika_denise

"Hey y’all, I’m a 26 year old drag performer self identified queer person living with Dermotillomania. I’ve had it my whole life as the result of having severe eczema when I was a child and I’ve learned how to cope with it and minimize it as an adult. But seeing pages like this makes happy that people are speaking up and recognizing it as a real condition after I spent my whole life thinking I was weird and something was wrong with me. It’s especially stressful in the world of drag and makeup where flawless skin is highly coveted both in and out of makeup." -@qhristwithaq

"Ever since i was little, I always remember feeling the need to pick at everything. When i would get mosquito bites, they would turn into permanent scars because I would pick at them so much. My mom always called me her little picker, just thinking it was a quirk about me, and it wasn't anything serious. When I was in junior high, I realized that my keratosis pilaris on my arms would pop. This is when things became very problematic. I would spend hours every night picking, my arms would be swollen and red after each session. It felt like I had no control, but i loved picking so much that it felt like it was my choice. As i got older, I decided I wanted to stop picking because I felt really embarrassed about how my arms looked; they were constantly scabbed, but i couldn't stop. My mom noticed that it was a problem and took me to a doctor because she thought i had severe acne or an allergic reaction on my arms. I explained that I thought it was something more than that, that i really couldn't control it. The doctor said I should go to therapy because it seemed compulsive, but I never went because my parents still didn't see the issue. I didn't realize excoriation disorder existed until this summer, and i felt no longer alone. SO many people have the same problems as me. We are all trying to heal. I told my mom about the disorder, and she has been super supportive since. This fall i began going to therapy which has given me a lot of tools to prevent the picking and also help with the anxiety that causes the picking. I am not cured, and it sometimes it feels like I will never be cured, but I know that i have made huge strides with this disorder. i used to not even care when I would pick but now i am making so much more of an effort to stop. I still pick, but i am acknowledging that this is one of my main struggles in my life, and that i can still love myself despite it :)" -Finola, 16

"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

"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

"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

"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

"It's a path that's hard to follow, but not giving up will take you really far. First pic: August/2018 (but this going on for a few years now). Second pic: January/2019" -Camilla, @camivoorhees

"M E N T A L H E A L T H. I’m not sure where to start on this but that I’m proud of myself for finally speaking out - my name is Sarah and I have dermatillomania. This mental health disorder is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder whereby the sufferer cannot help but pick, scratch or even pop their own skin causing scars, bleeding and bruising. This started when I was a teenager, it went from scratching scabs every now and then (yeah grim I know) all the way to walking past a mirror and not being able to stop myself from picking away at my imperfections. My life changed when I realised it wasn’t something that I just did but, that 1 in 25 people suffer from this nasty disorder. I was one of many people who had no idea it is a genuine medical condition, the sad thing is most people are so ashamed to talk about it. I also have type 1 diabetes but I’m not ashamed of that, so why should any other medical condition be treated differently?!?! So I’m gonna finish here and say this is me , no make up and not ashamed of something I can’t control. If you’re sat at home anxious about a medical condition that affects your appearance know that you’re wonderfully and fearfully made! YOU’RE PERFECT JUST THE WAY YOU ARE! " -Sarah, @sarahcols26