Dermatillomania, also known as compulsive skin picking, is an impulse control disorder often categorized alongside obsessive-compulsive disorder. Both CSP and OCD involve repetitive compulsions used to manage anxiety. CSP can lead to permanent scarring or infections at the site of the picking.
I have suffered from dermatillomania for a number of years. I’ve have OCD since childhood, ranging from intrusive thoughts to trichotillomania. In my early years of college, I began picking at my face in an attempt to get the “dirt” out. When I worked at my university’s library, I’d often find myself in an unused bathroom for upwards of half an hour, leaning over the row of sinks to investigate the pores on my nose.
Even now, when anxious, I run my hands over my chest and shoulders, feeling for any little bump. I pick, I rub, I use my fingernails to excise anything that may be in that bump. It’s painful, and it leads to what you see above: red, irritated skin, swollen areas, and pain throbbing all along my skin. It’s absolutely no fun, but that’s anxiety disorders for you.
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