About Me

Hi there and welcome to my blog! A space I have created in this online world to share my story with others and to let people like me know that they are not alone out there. I’m a 24 year old female who has been suffering from Dermatillomania (the urge to pick at one’s own skin) since the age of 4. That means I’ve spent the last 20 years picking, pulling and tweezing at my own skin leaving me with many many scars, both pyhsically as well as mentally. I also suffer from depression, anxiety and other forms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, including the fear that every piece of food I eat is contaminated with bacteria and will make me ill.

For years I have struggled with the idea of putting myself out there. But what if people recognise me? Bully me? Make fun of me? Well you know what.. this is who I am. I may not like the person I am right now but I am on a journey. A journey of change. And I hope one day to be free of these terrible obsessions but in the meantime I will share my struggles, vent my thoughts and spread the word about Dermatillomania. A silent but dangerous obsession.

I also run a support group on Facebook which has helped to connect other sufferers and given them a safe space to share their pictures and their concerns with one another. It is a private group and can only be accessed by requesting to join. Check it out if you get the chance:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/53173448037/

You can now follow me on tumblr:

http://dermagirl.tumblr.com/

Thanks for visiting my blog!

  1. Hi,
    My story is literally the mirror image of yours. I am a 24yr old female and the earliest memory I have of picking was 4yrs. I have struggled with OCD, depression and anxiety. Have you stopped? Where did you find help? I am based in Australia and really struggling to find any help.

    • Hi there,
      Sorry for the late reply! I am so glad to finally meet someone with a very similar story to my own. I have not stopped but it is not as bad as it was when I was between 19-22 years old. I have not managed to find help in Australia which is why I am working so hard to try and spread awareness but this disorder is now listed in the DSM-5 as Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder and if you mention this to your doctor and/or psychologist, they should be able to provide you with some helpful advice from there. I am in Perth, Western Australia and also run a group on Facebook for sufferers of this disorder called: Dermatillomania Support Group. I would love to keep in touch with you and share stories and helpful advice 🙂 Thank you for commenting and sorry again for the late reply!

  2. Hi – I’ve been looking this up since September when I started seriously picking at my feet – haven’t stopped yet and it bugs the crap out of my better half! It started suddenly but I realise that as a child right through my twenties I had trichotillomania and I understand they are related. I’m on Zoloft for anxiety but it doesn’t do anything g for this.

    • Hi Vam,

      Thank you for visiting my blog! I have been doing this for over 20 years now and I understand how frustrating it can be and how it can be just as equally frustrating for our partners! Have you got a doctor or a psychologist you could see specifically for the skin-picking, as it may require a different treatment course than the one you are on for anxiety? I too suffer from anxiety and OCD but have never gone the medication route; the challenge for me has always been finding a medical professional who knows what Dermatillomania is and how to treat it. I hope some of the tips on my website help to distract you from the skin picking and that knowing there are others out there who also have this disorder helps you feel less alone in your struggles!

      – Samantha

  3. hi, im in Australia too. I thought i was the only one. its so good to come across this blog. i feel like a addicted to this. its my coping mechanism.

    • Hi Sonya,

      Always nice to ‘meet’ a fellow Australian suffering from this disorder! Skin-picking often feels like an addiction and lately I’ve been really struggling to control the urges to pick so I know how you feel. You are definitely not alone in this and I am glad you came across this blog… there are also some great groups on Facebook for sufferers to connect with one another. I run the ‘Dermatillomania Support Group’ on Facebook if you ever want to stop by and have a chat with others like us! 🙂

      – Samantha

  4. Thank you for your blog.
    It’s very supportive. I try to fight every day but I fail since over 20 years. But I want to stop.
    Waiting to be accepted on your group.
    I know I’m not the only one but it’s always very helpful to just not be ashamed. To just say ” I pick my skin, so what ?” . To treat it like normal illness, and to make others understand that it’s just illness. It’s not contageus, it’s not our wish to have it.
    We keep fighting every day.
    While I read the blogs and ways to stop picking, it itches my skin, it makes me to scratch scratch scratch. But it also shows a red blinking alarm in my head ” Stop. Just for a moment. At least try to stop. Do your best.”
    Thank you !

    -Paul

    • Hi there! 🙂 I think I have already spoken to you in my group but I just wanted to say thank you for writing in. I’m in my 22nd year of doing this now so I know how it feels. It has been a long struggle and one I desperately want to stop. I too wish people could just be accepting and understanding of this disorder. It is not something we want to have and if we could find a way to stop then we would. I hope you are finding that in the group there are a lot of people who feel the same way and there is a lot of support always pouring in. Wishing you all the best on this journey 🙂 – Samantha

  5. Hi Samantha!

    I’m living in Perth too and trying to find a specialist – would you have any recommendations? This habit really makes my life less enjoyable than it could be…

    Good on you bringing the awareness about Dermatillomania! My ‘experience’ is 15 years but I only recently learned it is actually a psychological disorder.

    Amber

    • Hi Amber,

      I thought I had replied to this but it mustn’t have gone through, sorry about that! It’s good to ‘meet’ a fellow Perth sufferer as there aren’t too many of us around! I haven’t found any specialists as of yet but if you Google the Australian Psychology Society or follow this link: http://www.psychology.org.au/ you can find a therapist who treats similar behaviours, eg. OCD and Trichotillomania. If I do however found someone who specialises in treating Dermatillomania in Perth then I will share it on here immediately! Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! 🙂

      Samantha

  6. Hi Samantha
    I’m so grateful to come across your blog, thanks – it’s so needed! I’m from Perth, but living in Melbourne last 7 years. I’ve been picking since my teens and am 53 now, needless to say it’s become a debilitating habit affecting every area of my life. If nothing else, I’d love for people to get on top of this thing quicker than I have! Haven’t found much help in therapy or medication, & am going through a pretty desperate stage at the moment. I’m not currently on Facebook, but will look at joining the support group. Thanks again & all the best.

    Lynda

    • Hi Lynda,

      I am glad that you found my blog and that it can offer some comfort in dealing with this terrible affliction! Sorry you haven’t found much in the way of help, I haven’t managed to find much either unfortunately. There does not seem to be a lot of treatment options available here in Australia. I hope you join us on Facebook… we’re a supportive little community and I think there might be a few sufferers who are also based in Melbourne. You could always set up a Facebook account and use it just for the sole purpose of interacting in the group. Otherwise here is a great little support group that runs through Skype as well as Facebook: http://www.osparecovery.org/ All the best in your journey to recovery and stay in touch!

      Samantha

  7. Hi. I would be interested to join your Facebook group please

  8. Hi! Im 24, from Perth WA and feel so good knowing your under the same stresses as me !!! Going through the whole ordeal right now, skin picking is my no.1 as well as binge-eating disorder, anxiety, post depression and other stupid obsessive compulsive things like candycrush and online shopping. Im a graphic designer which means im a perfectionist all day every day too. I find your strength and commitment to the blog amazing.

    • Hi Brooke,

      It is so nice to ‘meet’ a fellow West Australian suffering with the same things as me. Not so nice that you are suffering though. I too am a HUGE HUGE perfectionist and become obsessed over things like games as well. I just had to permanently delete my FB account because I couldn’t stop checking it. I also binge eat and suffer from depression, anxiety and OCD in addition to the skin picking. If you aren’t already a member of ‘Dermatillomania Support Group’ on Facebook you should check it out. I started the group years ago and it is a great support for fellow sufferers… there are also a few Aussies in there although mostly from over East. And thank you for your kind words about my blog and for taking the time to visit it and leave a comment. Knowing people are still reading it, encourages me to keep writing. So thank you!

      Dermagirl ❤

  9. Hi I have derma too, and you posted about a book a while ago, in 2013. A book from Angela Hartin or something. I really want to read it but I can’t find it anywhere, problaby because I live in holland… I was hoping you could help me!

    • Hi there 🙂 Sorry for the late reply. You can get in touch with Angela through her website skinpickingsupport.com or through her Facebook page ‘Angela Hartlin, Dermatillomania Author & Advocate’. She will be able to advise you on the best way to purchase her book. She also has a documentary coming out now too!

  10. Hi there

    First of all just to say that you are amazing for doing this blog.

    I came across it as I am the mum of a 6 year old girl who has been picking at her skin since she was about 3 years old. It started with mosquito bites that she would pick at, but a year later she developed a habit of picking at clear skin and creating sores that she will dig away at for weeks. Of course I explained why she should not pick, I have repeatedly told her not too, also obviously totally pointless and I am writing to you now as I wonder if you have any advice for parents with kids who have this condition. If you were 6 again is there anything that would have helped you? We have tried many things, finding an alternative habit for her (drawing, fiddling with bracelet, wearing elastic bands, reward charts with stars and prizes), I am sad to say that I have also resorted to shouting in times of total frustration. We are currently seeing a child psychologist about it, but I just thought that hearing from someone who really understands the condition would be of some help. I can’t really find any information specifically for parents.

    Hope to hear from you,
    Ari.

    • Hi Ari,

      Thank you for getting in touch with me and for doing all that you can to find a solution for your daughter. I also tried numerous things without improvement, including drawing, fiddling with bracelets, etc.. What so far has worked for me, but it may be too young for your daughter, is fake nails and hypnotherapy however I am about to start treatment with a skin picking psychologist in November and if I learn anything that might be helpful I will make sure to post it to my blog. Google Karen Pickett, she is who I will be seeking treatment from. In the meantime continue to seek help for your daughter, show her your support but do not make a big deal out of her skin picking. I think my mum made it out to be a bigger deal than it really was which only made me pick at it more. Look for psychologists who have experience successfully treating Trichotillomania (hair pulling) as that is a very similar disorder to Dermatillomania and is often treated using similar techniques. Also try and make her more mindful of her feelings… I realise now I picked (as a child) whenever I was angry, upset, scared, or wanted attention. If the picking helps her relieve those emotions or helps her get attention then her behaviour is being rewarded and that’s why it is so difficult to stop. There has been research done that proves when we pick, it releases feel good endorphins making it desirable to resort to picking in order to calm ourselves, etc. But at the end of the day you sound like a really caring and supportive parent, show her that and be there for her no matter what. Don’t give up on finding her help and if I find anything that works for me, I will be sure to share it. Also apologies for the late reply I have been super busy juggling the trio of work, study and parenthood so sadly my blog has been a bit neglected lately but I am still here and will be dedicating more time to it from Nov onwards 🙂

  11. Hi Samantha, first of all, sorry for my english, I am spanish. And I am a psychologist, doing clinical practice. I found your blogs looking for information about dermatillomania. Now I am 34 but and I have had, since my 12 o 13 years old, a certain degree of dermatillomania. I rarely do it now. Back in my 20’s I suffered from anxiety and occasionally I´ve done a lot of damage to my skin so I guess I can understand a little bit your suffering, just a little tiny bit. I have read in your posts that you don´t want to take any medication. I may say that medication it is not miraculous but when is needed it can help A LOT. Sometimes, medication can be experienced as a loss, as if it was the evidence that you are ill, but to take medication for a while does not mean that you have to take pills forever. Maybe just for one year.
    Sometimes medication can help, for a while. It can be like a crutch in your way to the recovering. I really would like to meet you and talk to you about a lot of stuff… I hope you can find a good therapist, the one that really listen to you so you both can reveal the meaning of your symptoms. For what I have read, I can tell you that you are a brilliant person. And just as a personal opinion, I think that sometimes, people whom are billiant are very afraid of showing their talent or beauty. Their fear to failure is that big, that they try endless ways to sabotage their selfs.

    I have read also that you are studying a lot, working and also being a mum. Maybe this is too much to do!, take it easy!. do what you can cope right now.

    … I don´t know, everything I can say is just a mere supposition or hypothesis, I don´t know you, I don´t know your history. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences, I send you a lot of positive energy and I am sure you will be able to manage this thing that is causing you so much pain.

  12. Hi derma girl. I just requested to join your Facebook page. Please approve my request. I also live in Perth Western Australia. I would like to be able to message you privately. I have been suffering in silence for many years.

    • Hi Dkr819, have we been able to connect through the Faceboook group? It’s nice to meet a fellow sufferer in Perth! I feel so alone out in this neck of the woods!

  13. Hello, I found your blog and I am so relieved knowing I am not suffering with this alone. I have struggled with this for many years, I am 17 and I pick at my face, for reasons I am still unsure of. Maybe its stress or another emotional reason I don’t know of yet. Reading other peoples stories and their advice has helped me better understand this stuggle and I am taking steps to improve and stop anymore damage. The tips you have are really helpful and I plan to follow them! I am sick of letting my skin stop me from experiencing the world, thank you for this wonderful support service you have created!

  14. Thank you for the follow, it’s nice to meet you! I look forward to your posts and hearing about your journey. Take care! 🙂

  15. Hi,
    First, I’d like to thank you for making this blog. I never realized what I had was a real disorder and I felt like I was a freak or the only person that does this. My story isn’t near as long as yours or a lot of commenters–I’m fourteen, and I can’t exactly remember when or why I started but it began in the last few years. When I was about eleven I started up with this sort of habit of taking a mechanical pencil with the led pushed up inside and scratching it on my skin so that it took the top few thin layers of skin off. My mom found out and had me start seeing a psychologist. I told them it was mainly because of my self-esteem because I was too ashamed to say it was mostly for this intense feeling of cleaning or satisfaction. That ended, but that was sort of my beginning… As of late I’ve had increasing anxiety. For a year or two I’ve had this sort of addiction turned instinctual habit of scratching my scalp, often until I leave scabs. Within the past year or so I’ve begun a sort of pimple-popping-like addiction. It started with blackheads on my face, but I have ended up just popping pores on my chest, whether there’s acne/blackheads or not. They scab, I mess with the scabs, and it never seems to end. I was ashamed and embarrassed to tell my mother or psychologist because it’s all over my chest/breasts (as well as some makeup-hidden face spots and some on my waist, arms, and legs) and it felt like some sort of weird, dark secret I had to hide. My mom took me in for a surprise physical at the doctor’s and that’s how they found out. Nobody told me this was a real condition, so I still felt alone. Luckily my mother has also observed my anxiety along with my picking and has specifically asked my psychologist to help me with it all.
    I was led to your blog by the short film “She’s Lost Control” and I’m so glad. Sorry if this whole story was pointless or boring, but I am just very grateful and I would really appreciate if you have any certain advice you could provide, so that I can possibly end or reduce this before it continues through to my adulthood.

  16. I don’t have a Facebook and I would like to have help with my skin picking for 10 years. It makes me crazy and I am loosing my mind in special at nights. Please, My feet are bleeding and burn and hurt. I hardly can walk and my hopes are done. Somebody help me.

    • Hi Gladys, I hope you’ve been able to find support. There is a wealth of information available online now about this condition. You are definitely not alone in this.

  17. Hi
    I came across your blog in looking for support and I guess hope that I can beat Dermatillomania. I know you haven’t posted for a while, but I was wondering how you were doing? I recently started my own blog http://missskinchanger.blogspot.com/. Although I don’t have any subscribers or any comments, I am hoping that it will help me to be accountable and motivate me to keep progressing.

  18. Omg! So glad i found you!

  19. I am 42, and this has been my life. Missing an event for my son tonight due to an open sore. I hate that this dictates my quality of life. I hate that I’m responsible for my own hell.

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