Living With Dermatillomania (1/2)

Picking. Popping. Scratching. Digging.

Constantly picking at pimples. Popping the little whiteheads that show up every morning. Scratching at bumps. Digging out scars and digging out blackheads. Not feeling a relief until the flaw is gone, only by creating more fingernail indents around the circular clogged pore that invaded my perfectly flawed skin.

When someone makes me uncomfortable, my hand goes up my back to “scratch an itch”. When I’m concentrating or stressed, it likes to go to my chin or behind my ear and hairline. When I’m bored? That’s when my hand goes to my arms and face.

It’s a nervous tick. It’s one of the products of my anxiety. I don’t like to talk about it.

Dermatillomania is something that many people suffer from everyday. It has obsessive compulsive type tendencies, except instead of keeping a desk organized, or flipping a light switch multiple times, you honestly believe that your skin is flawed. It’s flawed because of the clogged pores. It’s flawed because whenever you pick, pop, scratch or dig, your nails and finger tips leave more oils and dirt surrounding the flaw you messed with and you end up creating another one. Ironic. It’s flawed because someone once told you in fifth grade that you had really big pores, or that you could never look like Katy because you had too much acne. It’s flawed because once during summer band, someone pointed out the flaws on your arms from being out in the sun.

I still know who said all of those things. Another perk of anxiety. Constantly thinking about things that happened days, weeks, months, years ago. Every insult is fried into my brain. Instead of memorizing dates in history class, I was thinking about why the boy I had a crush on left me. I was good at school, sure, but I was better at overthinking.

Today, I am twenty-three-years-old, and I’ve finally started to come to terms with what it takes to live with dermatillomania. As a full-time college student, school, life, and anxiety causes my skin-picking tendencies to flare up even more.

Right now, I am typing with cuts on the tips of my fingers. Cuts from a knife. Cuts from my cat Patrick, who believes that “playing” has to involve claws. The cuts make it difficult to type, however the subject of this blog makes it more difficult. Exhaustion has led me into discussing things I’m uncomfortable with. I could talk about anything right now. I could talk about the things on Facebook that irk me or I could talk about the issues with society nowadays, because damn, there are multiple.

However, I chose the one subject I dislike about myself. I am opening up to the internet about a self-diagnosed “disease” that I don’t like to talk about.

AllBee, signing off. ❤️

If you, or anyone you know, is living with dermatillomania (skin-excoriation disorder), please feel free to contact me. Later on, I’ll be publishing other people’s experiences with it as well because it’s important for you all to know that you are not alone. Attached is also a slideshow I made for a psychology class I took this spring, it has all of the statistics and everything. 

12 thoughts on “Living With Dermatillomania (1/2)

  1. Girly, I’m sorry that you do this to yourself. It was weird reading this as I have these same “twitches” but I never knew there was a name. Knowledge is power though, don’t forget. I love you and I’m very proud of you

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      1. Liz

        I have the same thing! And I didn’t know it had a name until you opened up about it awhile ago. It makes me feel less alone and less crazy to know that there are others out there like me. I pick all the time!- in times of stress and anxiety, when I’m bored, sometimes I dont even know I’m doing it. My spots are my thighs and my arms. I’ve cut back A LoT on picking at my face by not looking in the mirror too long/not looking too closely but I still struggle to stop picking my legs. I get so embarrassed and feel so ashamed afterwards when I see the damage I’ve done but I sometimes dont know what else to do and picking is the only relief I get sometimes. I’m sorry you struggle with this too, but thank you for opening up about it because it was the only way I found out it had a name and has helped me come to terms with it.

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      2. Hi Liz, and I’m so, so glad that you reached out and that my post helped you feel less alone! When I started opening up more about it I was really nervous, but now that I know I’m not alone it’s become a lot easier. My go-to’s are usually my arms and my shoulders because I “scratch” them. I’ve found the thing that helps the scars go away the quickest is witch hazel! Just slather it on and moisturize with a good moisturizer and it’ll really help get rid of the things your hands travel to. 🙂

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  5. I have it too, have had it since I was 13 (I’m wayyyy older now!) With me, it’s only occasionally anxiety that triggers it – this covid-19 thing doesn’t help at all – but generally for me it’s a symptom of ocd – a compulsion. I do it in my sleep, too. I’m going crazy these days trying not to because I’m scared of the virus and in case it might get into my bloodstream that way… but I’ve not read anything about it infecting like that. I have to hope it doesn’t.

    Oh and I feel the same way about opening up about it. My blog – only started it today – is for writing about this stuff that troubles me. Not written the post about it yet but will soon (I hope).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry for the late reply, but YES. I’m so sorry you’re going through it, and I’m glad my blog reached you. I’ve found that a lot of people don’t even realize they’re doing it until they end up with scars. My back and my arms are covered, but I’ve found that witch hazel and unscented body wash is my BEST FRIEND!

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      1. Witch hazel is great. Sometimes (if it gets really, really bad) I put an oily cream or lotion on the picked areas – that changes the texture and stops me picking for a while.. I think it’s the dry and scabby feel of it that draws my fingers to pick, when it feels oily my fingertips sort of slide over and away from it. Trouble is, I don’t always remember (or want that sensation!)

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