"I Can't Stop Picking My Skin": Teenager With Compulsive Skin Picking Shares Experience To Raise Awareness

Date December 5, 2018

Have you ever heard about dermatillomania? Also known as compulsive skin picking, it causes a person to repetitively touch, pick, scratch, or dig at their own skin.

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It affects up to 5% of the global population, with 75% affected being women. Emma Faith O’Heeron is among such people, and she wants to share her experience to raise awareness and encourage others to be comfortable in their own skin.

Cheryl Casey /

The 19-year-old remembers having the symptoms since she was a kid. Back then, she was obsessively scratching at mosquito bites. Now, the teenager can spend hours picking at her skin, mainly on her chest, face, and arms! When she picks, she’s looking for any imperfections, such as pimples and bumps.

There are days when she doesn’t pick at all. Sometimes, she only picks two pimples. But there are also days when she can spend up to 3 hours in the bathroom. As Emma says:

I know the most I have probably done is maybe about five hours.

The girl also struggled with being diagnosed correctly. Often, her condition worsens because of infections. But the usual answer doctors give her is ‘Just stop picking’.

They give antibiotics and send you out of the door. I’ve been to about 15 different doctors for infections.

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Emma also has anxiety, which she takes medication for. Luckily, the girl found support and help in an online community.

Barcroft TV / YouTube

Those with dermatillomania often don’t want to go out or see anyone. By chatting with people from a support group on Facebook, Emma feels less alone.

Barcroft TV / YouTube

How does she try to manage the condition?

The teenager sets a timer for 30 minutes each time she feels the urge to pick at her skin. Besides, her cat stops her by distracting and demanding attention from her.

Barcroft TV / YouTube

What else can be done?

The condition is probably caused by more serious mental health issues, such as anxiety or OCD. So, addressing the main problem might stop picking.

Ollyy /

It’s also important to create barriers. For example, some people with dermatillomania use facial masks, wear gloves, avoid mirrors, and divert attention to other things, like pets.

Finally, just try to accept your appearance. You’re beautiful just the way you are!

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

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