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Skin Picking: Impact & Effect

The Emotional and Social Impact of Skin Picking

For some people, skin picking may amount to a mild problem, merely a frustration. For others, it is a daily battle to resist the urges to pick or pull at their skin. There is no universally agreed-upon standard of when skin picking becomes a serious problem. In more serious cases, though, the picking is generally time-consuming, results in noticeable tissue damage, and causes emotional distress. When it becomes even more severe, people often suffer impairment in social, occupational and physical functioning. This may include avoiding social activities such as going to the pool, gym or beach; being late for work or other events because of the time it takes to cover up picking; and avoiding contact with anyone who may notice scars or sores.

Physical Damage

In some cases, infection may develop in areas that have been picked. If skin is red, warm, and tender, it is may be infected, and you should take extra precautions to keep the area clean. If this warm, red, and tender area does not heal quickly, or if it spreads from its initial location, you should seek medical treatment. If left untreated, infections may lead to a larger medical concern and/or scarring.

Repeated skin picking may also cause the skin to change colors when it heals. While this discoloration may fade over several months, it is possible the skin will remain discolored.

Skin picking may also cause scars to occur. If you pick through the top level of skin (the epidermis) down into the next layer (the dermis), or beyond, you will likely develop scarring or uneven skin texture that will not go away.

How Long Does Skin Picking Last?

It is impossible to predict the duration of repetitive skin picking for any individual person. Without treatment, skin picking tends to be a chronic condition that may wax and wane in severity throughout a lifetime.

TLC Community and Support

TLC works to create connections between people living with these problems.


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