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Diagnosis: The Signs and Symptoms of Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder

Matthew D. Jacofsky, Psy.D., Melanie T. Santos, Psy.D., Sony Khemlani-Patel, Ph.D. & Fugen Neziroglu, Ph.D. of the Bio Behavioral Institute, edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D. Updated: Jan 2nd 2014

Excoriation disorder, also known as skin-picking, is the recurrent picking of the skin. While any part of the body can be the target, the primary sites are arms, hands, and face. People can pick skin that is healthy and intact. Alternatively, they may pick at irregular areas of the skin such as hangnails, pimples, or scabs from previous picking, injury, or insect bites. Various tools can be used like tweezers or biting skin off, but fingernails are the norm. People who pick may also rub or squeeze their skin.

Approximately 75% of people with this disorder are women. It occurs in less than two percent of the population. Skin-picking often begins during adolescence in response to acne or another skin condition. Most people will admit to popping a pimple or picking a scab once in awhile. So do we all have skin picking disorder? Well, no. People with this disorder have tried to stop or reduce their picking behavior, but without success. Moreover, like all mental disorders, skin-picking disorder limits a person's functioning. It may be time-consuming and interferes with a person's social, occupational, or educational activities.


Matthew D. Jacofsky, Psy.D., Melanie T. Santos, Psy.D., Sony Khemlani-Patel, Ph.D. & Fugen Neziroglu, Ph.D. of the Bio Behavioral Institute

Authors Statement: Established in 1979, the Bio Behavioral Institute is a psychological and psychiatric clinic dedicated to the treatment and research of anxiety and mood disorders. Based in Long Island, NY, USA, the institute serves both a local and international clientele. Our staff have over 40 years of experience treating anxiety and mood disorders and have been at the forefront of scientifically supported treatments for anxiety disorders for many years. We offer a variety of programs provided by a multidisciplinary team of professionals. For more information, please visit us online at or view Bio Behavioral Institute and author biographical information on this website.

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