Skin picking (excoriation), is characterized by the repetitive picking of one’s own skin. Individuals who struggle with this disorder touch, rub, scratch, pick at, or dig into their skin in an attempt to improve perceived imperfections, remove rough patches/scabs, smooth areas, or accomplish some goal. Skin picking often results in tissue damage, discoloration, or scarring.
Occasional picking at cuticles, acne, scabs, calluses, or other skin irregularities is a very common human behavior; however, research indicates that approximately 2%- 5% of the population picks their skin to the extent that it causes noticeable tissue damage and marked distress or impairment in daily functioning. An estimated 75% of people experiencing skin picking disorder are female. The behavior typically begins in early adolescence, although skin picking disorder can begin at any age. Without treatment, skin picking disorder tends to be a chronic condition that may wax and wane over time.