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Is Compulsive Skin Picking a form of OCD?

By Dr. Ori Shinar

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Oftentimes, those who deal with OCD skin picking may get the urge to pick at their skin when they are triggered by certain emotions or situations. 

While it’s a common tick and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s not exactly a healthy habit. Here are some tips that can help you start to treat OCD skin picking. 

How Does Skin Picking Relate to OCD?

OCD skin picking

Like OCD, skin picking is an obsessive and repetitive impulse, so OCD does have a high correlation with skin picking and other obsessive compulsive behaviors relating to your body. 

Tips for Managing OCD Skin Picking

Know Your Triggers 

OCD skin picking

When do you find yourself picking at your skin? Is it triggered by a specific emotion like anxiety or boredom? Or before certain events? 

It’s important to try and pinpoint your triggers so you can figure out why exactly you pick your skin. This way, it’ll be easier to nip the habit. 

Look for Self Soothing Alternatives

lotion on hands for OCD skin picking

Once you’ve figured out the trigger(s), work on replacing the skin picking habit with a more positive form of self soothing, like putting on lotion or stretching out your fingers. 

This way, you’ll get something positive and productive out of a negative trigger. Hopefully with time, you may even begin to associate the negative trigger with self care. 

Keep Your Hands Busy

OCD with hands

Like with the alternative soothing habits, you won’t be able to pick at your skin if you force your hands to be doing other things

Try to keep yourself occupied by playing a game on your phone or flipping through a book. This is especially effective if you’re just waiting around. 

Is OCD skin picking self harm? 

OCD self harm cycle

Skin picking is a habit that deserves addressing no matter why you’re doing it, and this of course applies to the aforementioned reasons like anxiety or boredom. 

However, OCD skin picking as a form of self harm might need a different approach for treatment because it’s more than just an absent-minded habit. 

Tips to Prevent OCD Skin Picking for Self Harm Purposes

Since self-harm skin picking might usually be more aggressive so you also might have to be more diligent about treating it. 

Eating something really sour or screaming into a pillow are ways to get these negative feelings out without actively causing harm to yourself. It may also be beneficial to keep a journal and write in it every time you feel like picking at your skin. 

Seeking Therapy for OCD Skin Picking

OCD therapy

CBT Therapy 

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, helps patients identify and change destructive behavior by focusing on the seemingly automatic negative thoughts that contribute to (or worsen) these negative emotions. 

Through cognitive behavior therapy, therapists help patients replace these negative intrusive thoughts with more realistic and objective thoughts. 

HRT Training

Habit reversal training, or HRT, is a behavioral training system that helps patients get rid of unwanted behaviors. This can include hair pulling, nail biting and of course, skin picking.

ACT Therapy 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, actually stems from traditional therapy and CBT. Through ACT, patients learn to stop denying and suppressing their inner emotions. 

Instead, patients learn to accept that these behaviors are their responses to certain events and that it shouldn’t hinder their lives. With this new understanding, patients can commit to changing these habits. 

Hopefully, these tips can help you nip your skin picking habit, but please know that you don’t have to go through this alone. 

It takes a village sometimes to make progress. There are trained professionals

out there who are willing to give you the help you need and deserve!

Schedule an appointment with dr ori

Are you ready to start living fully?

To learn more about individual therapy schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation and we’ll help determine if our services are a good fit for you.

Schedule an appointment with dr ori

Are you ready to start living fully?

To learn more about individual therapy schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation and we’ll help determine if our services are a good fit for you.

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