Dermatillomania is a psychological condition in which you cannot resist picking your skin, even if it leads to physical pain or bleeding. A dermatillomania therapist can help you modify your skin picking behavior and alleviate your symptoms using different types of therapy.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can find an experienced dermatillomania therapist near you or online.
Dermatillomania therapists near me
In this part, we’ve looked at two places you can find a dermatillomania therapist.
BetterHelp is an online platform where you can easily get in touch with qualified dermatillomania therapists who have thousands of hours of clinical experience.
It’s easy to get started with BetterHelp – all you need to do is out their sign-up form. During this questionnaire, the platform will ask you some questions about the issues you’re facing, and you can explain how you’re suffering from dermatillomania.
Afterward, you can state your preferences in a therapist, such as their specific gender, age, and/or the experience of your therapist. Then, BetterHelp will match you with a licensed therapist who meets your needs, and has experience in treating dermatillomania.
To get help from your therapist, you’ll have a weekly therapy session, over a video call, phone call, or using live chat if you’d prefer. You also have the ability to message your therapist as much as you’d like in between each scheduled session, helping you to get support more quickly.
You can change your therapist at any time if you’re not satisfied with the service provided. You only need to ask for a new mental health professional on the platform, and in response, BetterHelp will match you with a different therapist.
BetterHelp provides its service on a subscription-based fee schedule, rather than offering session-based pricing. You can subscribe to this platform on a monthly basis, and can cancel at any time.
BetterHelp is quite affordable, and they also offer financial aid options to certain socioeconomic groups, such as students, veterans, and those facing financial hardship.
The TLC Foundation for BFRB (Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours) runs an online directory on their website where you can find the contact details of dermatillomania and OCD therapists located near you.
On visiting this website, you’re asked to provide details about where you live, in the form of your city, state, or zip code. You can also select different search preferences for your therapist – for example, you may need the search results to only include therapists who offer treatment to young adults or teens.
Next, the directory will enlist all the dermatillomania therapists available near your location. You can choose some of these therapists and then contact them directly one by one, to find out more about their services, availability, and pricing. Unlike BetterHelp, the directory doesn’t allow you to contact the therapist directly through the website – you’ll need to get in touch directly.
If you’re looking for in-person help with dermatillomania, the BFRB website is a great place to find a therapist. However, it will be a bit more effort to find the right therapist for you, when compared to using an online service like BetterHelp.
What is dermatillomania?
Dermatillomania, also known as excoriation disorder, is a mental health condition in which patients feel an extreme desire to pick at their skin.
Skin picking issues are classified under the spectrum of obsessive-compulsive disorders. The treatments used to manage patients with dermatillomania are often similar to those used in the management of OCD.
Symptoms of dermatillomania
Dermatillomania is a body-focused repetitive behavior that typically presents with the following clinical symptoms:
- Repetitive skin picking, which may lead to the formation of skin lesions. Skin picking includes rubbing, recurrent touching, digging, or squeezing the skin. You may pick preformed skin lesions (like acne) or unblemished skin.
- Skin picking is compulsive, and is very difficult or impossible to stop.
- Skin picking is associated with mental stress and impaired social or occupational functioning.
- Skin picking is not associated with substance abuse disorders or other psychotic issues.
- You may use fingers, nails, and even tweezers or scissors to pick at your skin.
Sometimes, skin picking may become so intense that it can result in bleeding, bruises, or cuts.
Risk factors for dermatillomania
Although the exact cause of dermatillomania is still unknown, it is usually associated with other mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), body dysmorphic disorder, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Furthermore, dermatillomania also shows some genetic predisposition. That is why it tends to occur in families.
Triggers of dermatillomania
Many different things can trigger dermatillomania. These factors may include, but are not limited to:
- Psychological or physical stress.
- Feelings of guilt or shame.
- Emotional imbalances.
Skin conditions like eczema, acne, dermatitis and others can also precipitate the symptoms of dermatillomania.
How long does dermatillomania last?
A skin picking disorder is typically a life-long condition; however, psychotherapy and preventable measures can reduce the chances of relapse at a later age. Most patients who follow psychotherapeutic treatments can enter a sustained remission of symptoms.
Impacts of dermatillomania
Dermatillomania can produce many negative psychological and physical outcomes. Some of these negative impacts are mentioned below.
Skin picking disorders can lead to depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, feelings of embarrassment, and certain other effects on your mental health. These effects may also result in decreased self-esteem and self-confidence.
In dermatillomania, you may develop open wounds due to recurrent skin picking. Such wounds are prone to getting infected, and upon infection, you may develop local tissue damage, cellulitis, and other dermal manifestations.
Iron deficiency anemia
You may experience the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, including fatigue, lethargy, dizziness, paleness, and light-headedness, as a result of dermatillomania. This occurs due to blood loss from the repetitive scratches or bleeding that you experience due to skin picking.
Insomnia and loss of energy
Dermatillomania may also result in decreased sleep or loss of energy. Sleeplessness and anhedonia (decreased energy) can occur due to an irresistible compulsion to pick at your skin. You may begin skin picking while you sleep, or when performing everyday activities, resulting in overall poor sleep, and you being distracted in your day-to-day life.
Thus, dermatillomania may reduce your overall quality of life.
When should you visit the ER?
Although most people with dermatillomania do not require emergency treatment, there are certain red flags that indicate active infection, sepsis, or severe anemia. In such circumstances, you should visit the ER or call 911 immediately.
These red flags may include:
- Rapid breathing or heartbeat.
- High-grade fever.
- Redness, soreness, or white discharge from scratches or skin picking wounds.
- Dizziness or confusion.
- Increased fatigue or lethargy.
How can a dermatillomania therapist help?
A dermatillomania therapist can help you alleviate your dermatillomania symptoms and prevent future skin-picking episodes.
Firstly, a therapist might ask you about your symptoms, dermatillomania triggers, risk factors, and associated diseases. Next, the therapist will evaluate the severity of your symptoms.
Then, a dermatillomania therapist will devise a therapeutic plan based on the recommended psychological therapies used for skin picking disorder, which we’ve explained in more detail below.
Your therapist may also re-evaluate your symptoms during follow-up sessions, to assess the progress of treatment.
Therapies used for treating dermatillomania
Many different psychological therapies and medical treatments are available for managing the symptoms of dermatillomania. Your therapist may use the following therapies to help you resolve this skin-picking disorder.
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most often-used therapy by dermatillomania therapists to help you cope with a skin picking disorder.
In CBT, a therapist helps to change your thoughts or ideas about this compulsive habit. This change in attitudes may result in you modifying your behavior related to skin picking.
Moreover, CBT may also help you resolve the mental health issues associated with dermatillomania, such as anxiety, depression, stress, low self-esteem, and decreased self-confidence.
As mentioned above, anxiety and stress can precipitate dermatillomania issues, while the opposite is also true – dermatillomania can result in anxiety. CBT can help break this cycle of skin picking and its associated psychological symptoms.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy can help you manage dermatillomania through mindfulness and other psychotherapeutic techniques.
A therapist helps you acknowledge, pay attention to, and accept your inner thoughts and emotions during ACT. Next, the therapist may help you feel normal while experiencing negative emotions. Lastly, the dermatillomania therapist may also set achievable goals so that you remain committed to your modified behavior patterns.
In this way, you can cope with the obsession and compulsion you experience, as well as any anxiety you experience related to dermatillomania.
Habit awareness therapy
Habit awareness therapy is a type of behavioral therapy used to treat dermatillomania. It consists of two main phases: the habit awareness phase and the behavior modification phase.
In the first phase, a dermatillomania therapist may ask you to observe and monitor your skin picking and scratching habits, including details such as what triggers these compulsions, and when they occur.
In the second phase, the therapist may help you explore and engage in new coping strategies such as walking, gardening, use of moisturizers, and other activities designed to reverse the habit of skin picking.
Group therapy is also a form of psychotherapy that can help treat dermatillomania and other body-focused repetitive behaviors.
In group therapy, a therapist will create a supportive environment where you can connect with other people facing similar issues. You can easily share your thoughts and discuss your psychological problems in such an environment, with guidance and interventions provided by your therapist.
Decoupling therapy is also a behavioral intervention in which a therapist can help you to avoid a negative behavior (such as skin picking), by replacing it with a counter-movement or behavior.
While treating dermatillomania, a therapist helps you learn counter behaviors such as rapid blinking, squeezing the right thumb, or closing the fist tightly. The irritation caused by these counter-movements may enable you to avoid engaging in the unwanted compulsive behavior.
In case of severe disease, your healthcare provider may prescribe you medications to control the symptoms of dermatillomania. These medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Lamotrigine (anticonvulsant), and antipsychotic medications. You will need to see a psychiatrist in order to access this type of medication to control dermatillomania.
Dermatillomania is a mental health disorder characterized by an irresistible and compulsive desire to pick at your skin, that may require psychotherapeutic help from an experienced therapist. BetterHelp is an online platform that provides access to qualified dermatillomania therapists that can help you cope with skin picking.
The TLC Foundation also provides an online directory where you can find the contact information of dermatillomania therapists available near your location. Dermatillomania therapists use different psychotherapies such as CBT, ACT, group therapy, and decoupling techniques to help you cope with the symptoms of dermatillomania.
Still not sure how to find the right therapist to help with dermatillomania? Feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll respond as soon as possible.
About the author
When people experience mental trauma or face severe stress, their lives can unravel. My job is to help begin the healing process. I help my patients improve their mental health, strengthen relationships with others, and begin to overcome past traumas. I practice a large range of psycho-behavioral therapies, and have more than three years’ experience in clinical psychology and counseling.
In my spare time, I’m also a professional writer who spreads awareness about mental health issues. I have written many articles on this topic over the years for numerous different publications.
My educational background includes an M.B.B.S from the University of Health and Sciences, Lahore, majoring in Behavioral Sciences, and a Bachelors from G.C University, Faisalabad.