Dermatillomania is excessive picking of the skin which is usually out of the persons control who does it. Up until today I never realised how many people suffer from dermatillomania, I thought I was just alone.
I have suffered from this since the age of 14/15 years old. I stopped doing PE at school because I picked my legs so much and I was never aware of the condition until I was 16. I never knew how common it was and it made me feel less isolated. Sometimes I can pick for hours and just not realise and I have stopped for months and then started again. I’ve tried explaining it to some friends but they just don’t understand because they’ve never seen the damage that I have done, however it is nice to know that I am not suffering with this alone.
Whenever I wear a dress or skirt I make sure I have tights on, I never go out without them on. I’m so embarrassed of what people will think of my legs which have purple scars all over them. I’ve seen the extent that other people pick up to and I know my legs could be in a much worse condition but for me it is still a very upsetting thing. So many people make fun of the people that do this and they just don’t realise what they do to the people that face this problem. Their confidence gets knocked so much just as they are starting to accept themselves and what is going on with them.
Dermatillomania is not just where people pick their legs. It can be anywhere on their body such as their arms, fingers, back etc. So many people aren’t aware of this condition and for me it helped so much when I started to research it and find out more. It helped me to understand myself and explain it to my family and friends. It made me less embarrassed about talking to people about it and I felt less disgusted in myself I suppose.
I still haven’t found a way to give up picking yet and it’s so difficult to but here are some things that have helped me to stop for short periods of time:
- Talk to people about what you’re going through and why you want to pick. Having someone to talk to about it can help a lot.
- Avoid looking at the places you pick. Get changed in the dark, sleep in your makeup if you have to. Sometimes just seeing the places you usually pick can trigger it. If you pick your fingers out plasters over them for a day.
- Search it up and meet other people who are going through the same thing as you. It can help so much giving each other tips on ways to reduce it.
- Find a new hobby that you can do to distract yourself.
- Tell yourself that you aren’t going to pick at this moment in time and keep holding it off or set a time to pick at for 5 minutes and reduce how much you spend doing it.
This may not interest some people or help them but it has helped me to write about it. Some places offer therapy for dermatillomania if you cannot stop and this could help so many people if there was more awareness about it.