Dermatillomania can also be referred to as Skin Picking Disorder or Excoriation Disorder. This is a condition where you can’t stop picking at your skin. The recommended treatment can be done yourself but in some cases, you may need professional treatment. 


Symptoms of Dermatillomania 

  • Can’t stop picking your skin
  • Cause cuts, bleeding or bruising by picking your skin
  • Pick moles, freckles spots or scars to try to “smooth” or “perfect” them
  • Don’t always realise you’re picking your skin so it sometimes occurs in your sleep
  • Anxiety and stress can cause skin picking

The NHS has a do and don’t list for helping people with the disorder.





  • Keep your hands busy, try using a softball or perhaps put on gloves 
  • Identify when and where you most commonly pick your skin and try to avoid the triggers
  • Try to resist for longer and longer each time you feel the urge to start picking
  • Care for your skin when you get the urge to pick it, for example, use a moisturiser on the area
  • Tell others so they can help you recognise when picking
  • Keep your skin clean to avoid infection


  • Don’t let your nails grow long, keep them trimmed
  • Do not keep things like tweezers and pins where you can easily get at them



  • You cannot stop picking at your skin
  • You’re causing serious damage to your skin by picking it, like cuts that won’t heal within a few days
  • Picking your skin is causing you emotional distress or affecting your daily life

A GP may refer you to a for a diagnosis and possibly a dermatologist if you have badly damaged your skin. Treatments may include talking therapy, it is thought that it is an effective treatment to help change the skin picking behaviour. CBT Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may also be offered which sometimes includes a technique called habit reversal training. This will help you recognise and be aware of skin picking and the triggers and replace the behaviour with a less harmful one. GP may provide medication to also help.


It is thought that skin picking can be triggered by:

  • Boredom
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Negative emotions such as guilt or shame
  • Skin conditions, such as acne or eczema
  • Other blemishes that the person wants to get rid of (these may not be noticeable to other people)