Orders shipped same day
HSA/ FSA Accepted

The Difference Between Normal Skin Picking and Dermatillomania

When you have eczema, you can’t help but touch your skin and even scratch at it when the itching gets too much to bear. While you can effectively relieve your eczema with dermatitis lotion like SmartLotion®, too much scratching or picking can worsen the condition. It can even lead to infections and scarring, adding another skin problem to treat. 

It’s normal to pick at your skin occasionally, but when it happens too often, this develops into a skin picking disorder or dermatillomania. Here’s what you need to know about it and what you should do if you can’t stop scratching:

What is Dermatillomania?

Dermatillomania is a skin disorder in which you repeatedly pick, scratch, pull, scrape, squeeze, rub, dig, or even bite your skin. The constant irritation leads to wounds, scars, and pain and can also cause embarrassment. Affected areas include the face, hands, arms, legs, or back, and patients often use their fingers, fingernails, or even tweezers to pick at their skin. They may hide the inflamed site with makeup, clothing or avoiding contact altogether by staying home.

The urge to pick at skin may derive from feelings of stress, anxiety, boredom, or sadness. It is also a way for patients to release tension that has built up due to frustration, dissatisfaction, overstimulation, and impatience.

When Does Normal Scratching Turn Into Dermatillomania?

There’s no hard limit that separates normal scratching and dermatillomania, but a range. For this reason, dermatillomania should not be self-diagnosed, as doctors can determine how bad the itch is, driving the scratching or if it is due to a compulsive need to pick at the skin. Sometimes, it’s a combination of both.

Eczema increases the risk of dermatillomania since it is essentially a continuing trigger. Some people pick their skin to avoid processing complex emotions like guilt, anxiety, anger, and sadness, serving to self-soothe. This psychological component then turns into a psychological issue instead of a mere reaction to a skin condition.

How is Dermatillomania Treated and Diagnosed?

Medical professionals look for many characteristics in someone suspected to have dermatillomania. They are the following:

  • Incessant skin picking leading to wounds, lesions, tissue damage, and infections
  • Numerous attempts to stop or lessen skin picking without substantial success
  • Skin picking that results in dysfunction or significant distress by disrupting the person’s work or social life, or day-to-day functions
  • Skin picking that results in feelings of shame, embarrassment, or loss of self-control
  • Skin picking that is not related to a medical condition but a mental health condition producing hallucinations or delusions

Doctors often prescribe various treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, habit reversal exercises, and others to implement a multi-pronged approach for treating dermatillomania. Some have also recommended techniques to reduce the urge to pick or scratch at the skin without resulting in damage, such as the following:

  • Wearing gloves during the time picking most likely occurs
  • Trimming fingernails until they’re short
  • Using the right skin products like dermatitis lotion or eczema relief to minimize the itch, bumps, or other skin conditions that may be triggers for picking
  • Being aware of triggers and opting for other behaviors when triggered by keeping hands busy through knitting, using ‘fidget’ objects, and squeezing stress balls
  • Putting away tweezers and other objects used to pick at skin hidden or in difficult to access places
  • Limiting stress by exercising regularly, keeping a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep every night


It’s normal to scratch and pick at your skin once in a while. Eczema increases the frequency all the more, although SmartLotion® can take care of this. However, by understanding the difference between normal skin picking and dermatillomania, you can seek professional help and treat the disorder as soon as possible.

If you’re looking for the best lotion for eczema or dry, itchy skin, you’ve come to the right place. Dr. Steven Harlan’s incredible, fast-acting SmartLotion® restores your skin to natural perfection, relieves eczema, and prevents related outbreaks. It targets the root cause of these skin conditions and effectively cures them, leaving you itch-free for good. Buy yours today!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published