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Picking your skin? Learn four tips to break the habit

August 13, 2021

About the Author

photo of Lisa Zakhary, MD, PhD

Lisa Zakhary, MD, PhD, Contributor

Lisa Zakhary, MD, PhD, serves as Co-Director of Psychopharmacology in the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) OCD and Related Disorders Program and Director of Psychopharmacology in the MGH Excoriation Clinic and Research Unit. She received her undergraduate … See Full Bio
View all posts by Lisa Zakhary, MD, PhD


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Ashley C.
December 7, 2018

If you are going to include tips that help, you really ought to include HabitAware’s smart bracelet Keen. It’s the only thing that has been able to help me. You can’t really understand your trigger (tip 1) if you aren’t paying attention to the behavior and anaylyzing the when/why of it. That’s why the bracelet has helped – it creates awareness and the app lets you track so you can see.
Therapy (tip 3) is supremely helpful & I wouldn’t be alive without the help of trained professionals, but with out knowing when I was picking, it was very hard to do the practices my doctor taught me.
Also, there are NO prescription drugs proven for SPD — it really should not be on here at all as a tip!

Kusum Singh.
December 3, 2018

My husband pick his toe nail and toe skin while sitting on the couch his one leg up, he can do this for hrs.
I get so sick of this action,I feel like leave in middle of the conservative and don’t come back near him for hrs.
I’ve been living with this stupid condition for 49 years,
I just couldn’t change him, I’m so sick of him. Don’t know what to do with him. 😢😭

Barry Carlton
December 3, 2018

As a teen, our daughter picked her skin so severely that people thought she was a meth addict. Based on a tip we found online, we tried giving her inositol, an easily available supplement. The effects were miraculous. She quickly completely stopped picking her legs, and almost completely stopped picking her face (more like normal adolescent picking, rather than obsessive excavation). After a few years she no longer needed the inositol. Now in her 20s, she will always have scarring, but she doesn’t pick at herself.

As an aside, several dermatologists we took her to seemed completely unaware of skin picking syndrome; they offered various treatments for skin conditions, but never suggested there might be an underlying compulsion, and of course never solved her problem. It wasn’t until I Googled “compulsive skin picking” that I found out about this condition.

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