Skin Picking Disorder (Dermatillomania)


Dermatillomania it’s a compulsive skin
picking condition so it sort of falls under the OCD spectrum. It’s basically
where you sort of scan and find imperfections in your skin, and where
most people might start with something like a spot, you kind of take it beyond
that sort of level and end up causing more damage than good. It’s on different areas of
the body as well so it can really affect people in day to day life. Me and Mary-Anne have been friends for nine years, we’ve got so much in common
but the biggest thing that we’ve got in common is that we both have
dermatillomania. A very common feature of people who have derma is that they will
sit and they’ll look for imperfections bumps, spots, anything that they can find. Sometimes I feel like my hands are another
person, so they’ll be drawn to my face. Personally I know part of mine was I would look for ingrown hairs, and then
it sort of becomes a trance doesn’t it? Like you sort of enter this stage
where you’re half zoned out so you’re not fully aware of you know what you are
doing. You do know you’re not meant to be taking it that far but there’s something
that means you can’t stop. As the years went by obviously being a teenager
I had suffered with bad skin and it was something that always affected me and it
got to the point that it was so bad that I sought help through the doctors, and
they actually said it’s not acne, really it’s the skin picking, of which I
realised yeah it must be. Even when I was really young I used to chew the skin
around my nails, I used to bite my nails I remember my dad buying me that
‘stop bite’ nail polish, the one that tastes really horrible (Lucy: Same) and I think I
just ended up actually peeling that off and then carrying on anyway. Me and Lucy would actually send photos to each other to show each other when it
was at its worst, sort of encourage each other, help each other through it. If I’m having a bad day send her a picture, make a face, makes it better. Back at the time when I took this I was in a really dark place, I was probably coming
out of a trance and realising what I’d done to my skin. I think I cried quite
openly on the bus which to me at the time I was ashamed of, but I just
remember it being so painful both emotionally and physically, and I look at
myself there and I just feel like I was such a different person. Now the photo that I’m
looking at at the moment this was at my worst, this was when I wasn’t
going to work, I wasn’t leaving the house it’s a really hard photo to look at
actually. As much as I’m trying to hide it in the photo I can see how miserable
I felt. So some of the things I use for interventions really good stress toys
and the most effective one that I’ve used is the Peapod, just because it has
almost an effect of getting rid of an imperfection, it’s also really cute, It’s got
a nice little smiley face on it but it’s not hurting myself and it’s just that feeling really. And the other
one is the tangle toy, it’s just good to keep your hands busy really. My favourite
is this little character it’s my burger cat. It’s again a stress toy, but it’s just
good to squeeze really and again to keep my hands busy. And then the other things
that help me are my derma patches you put them on your face, on to spots to
sort of keep the spots down. The other thing that really helped me in my
earlier days when I got a diagnosis and was putting interventions in was my
gloves, so I used to wear them a lot at work and they really help to just put
that barrier in, and yes people are going to ask questions, but I’m not ashamed and
they’re actually just quite quirky. Basically if I get the urge to pick or
something I use this one at work most because it’s obviously something really
small and discreet, is I’ll just literally ping the hairband, and what it
does is gives me like a small pain stimulant and it sort of distracts
me from going in to that trance. Over the years I’ve had
people make comments like my dad saying you’d be such a pretty girl if you
didn’t ruin your skin (Mary-Anne: Yeah) obviously that then again confirms the thoughts
and feelings I had about my skin It’s not that our family’s like trying to
like be mean or anything like that or you know hear nerve. Another experience
I’ve had at work so one of my interventions, I was wearing my black
gloves and one of my work colleagues made a passing comment in front of
everyone and just said “you look a bit mental don’t you” and that really really
hurt and I just wish that people approached it with kindness A lot of people that suffer with the
condition actually have intrusive thoughts. It just literally sort of
consumes you at points that’s the point I felt I got to anyway. I struggled for years feeling like I was almost dirty and that really came into
the cycle with my skin. My CBT therapist really helped me in understanding that
these intrusive thoughts they have no validity, and I really learned so many
different things about helping with my derma. So interventions, ways of
thinking about myself, so not being so self-critical to actually tell myself
that I am beautiful and I am a good person. You’re not alone, there is help,
whether that be by opening up to your friends and family or, you know, finding
support groups like Lucy and I did on Facebook. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the
doctors to get support for mental health. Go and see if you can get CBT, see
if you can get support, because although it seems quite daunting or scary –
I mean I originally heard horror stories of people either potentially
being rejected or dismissed, however my experience was completely opposite. My
practitioner was amazing, supportive, and really was step one
to me recovering. And the main thing is even though all these
things are out there, at the end of the day it will be you that can help yourself,
so it starts with you really. Thanks for watching our Fixers film. We
created this film to raise awareness of dermatillomania and to give a bit more
information about it, and to show people that they’re not alone. Please share this
on any of your social media platforms make sure that we get
the message out there.

12 thoughts on “Skin Picking Disorder (Dermatillomania)

  1. I'm so happy to see a new video about that theme. A lot of vids are old and overseen from me. I know rude people, stares, even the comment if i have HIV. Some people are just dickheads and have to deal with their own actions later, when they reflect on their shitty behavior. you are brave and great for speaking about that for more awarness. You are inspiring for my own skin picking journey. I wish you all best! 🙂

  2. All fidget toys can be found on Amazon 😍 the patches are also found on Amazon and are 11.99 for 144 cheap and affordable to help you in your recovery and self care.

  3. I have this to but I always to it in class and there will always be blood everywhere and I hate myself for it

  4. I have had this for years with face back legs but worst of all my head I can keep an open wound going for 6 months the pain ,the shame and lack of help is devastating more help is needed.

  5. Yes my ma did the nail biting polish too. I would still bite my 💅 afterwards. Could not resist. Until i found out pin worms lay eggs in dirt and you can get those under your nails when gardening,etc. And infect yourself when biting your nails. That then stopped immediately the gross factor set in thankfully! What about removing freckles? You said skin imperfections. Does this ocd spectrum disorder also come with the obsession and the feeling disgusted by normal freckles/moles? Just wondering. 🤔 and also- is this more likely to happen to a perfectionists? It seems like people striving for skin perfection but to an obsessive level (OCD) and like you girls said- it damages your skin. I wonder about the genetic components as well.

  6. Thank you for sharing. I always had this tendency but this last year it got horrible. I'm 30 now and I'm extremely embarrassed about it. Someday I'm find but when I have an episode it gets horrible. I can pick my skin for 2+ hours and feel miserable after it. I don't even have too bad skin but the slightest bump or pimple or ingrown hair can cause a huge episode of picking and I literally destroy my face. The worst thing is I can't stop it and it makes me feel so weak and worthless. I also see some people looking at my wounds when I have them and it's the worst. Specially since I'm 30 already and I don't thing this happens to many 30 years old. I have been through a lot of stress and loneliness this year and I think that is why a developed it. I would like to talk to some people with this issue but I don't know anyone else. I'm also very worried about the scars it will leave if I'm ever out if it wich on the other hand seems difficult to me right know. It's such a vicious circle. I'm like trapped in it. It sucks so much because it interferes in my life and it's such a destructive useless thing. I really dislike myself for it.

  7. Me and my partner do too i had it when i met him and i slowed down ppl had to remind me.i still have it i go in to some Trans before sleeping and when thinking too much.he got really bad from head to toe. I feel the same . i feel it to late im to scard up.

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