Skin Picking is Common. So are Infections. Be in the Know.

The time to pack away winter clothes, coats and scarves is upon us. For some,

Skin Picking Struggle
Hiding under layers of clothes can be a coping mechanism for people who struggle with skin picking

it means a loss of security. Wounds on the skin are difficult to hide when it’s 85 degrees, and long sleeves look out of place. For those of us who struggle with skin picking, the concept of relaxing by the pool may not be a comforting image.

There are many reasons people give in to the urge to pick their skin. For individuals who live with psoriasis or eczema, dryness and itching can make it feel satisfying to peel away scabs. When acne or even the occasional pimple strikes, it’s the desire to make that nuisance go away. In some cases, dermatillomania, a repetitive behavior disorder caused by stress, anxiety or other reasons may be the root issue of skin picking. The causes may vary. But we have all picked at our skin, and we all know that it’s an unhealthy habit.

If skin-picking is something we all occasionally do for one reason or another, the next best thing to going cold turkey is learning about the risks and how to combat infection.

The Risks of Skin Picking


When you break the skin either by picking or popping that pimple, you create an open wound, vulnerable to bacteria. Most wounds will heal on their own if scabs are not disturbed, but infections—including staph infections–are a reason for concern and need proper treatment. Signs of infection are skin redness, feelings of heat around the affected area, visible pus and fever.

Tissue Damage

If skin-picking is habitual, the tissue is at risk for permanent damage. The repercussions can be severe and, in some cases, require grafting to repair the tissue. Picking at nails and cuticles, although not uncommon, can damage nail beds and lead to pits in nails or “puffy” looking cuticles.


When the dermis (the deep, thick layer of skin) is damaged, scarring most often results. Acne scars are among the most common type of scars, and they are made considerably worse by skin picking.

Self-Esteem Issues

Our skin is our largest organ–and also the most visible. When we have wounds that are exposed to the world, the self-confidence we all strive for becomes a challenge. Skin picking can feel satisfying at the time, but the after-effects are most certainly not.

When it is Necessary to Seek Medical Help

Minor or occasional skin picking is not too concerning. Using a cleanser like CLn on the compromised skin is recommended for skin prone to infection. And addressing contributing factors also helps.

Repeated skin picking that damages skin or skin picking that causes deep wounds requires a visit with medical professionals for instructions on the best method for skin recovery. Doctors or nurses can advise on the proper wound dressings, antibacterial measures and behavior modifications necessary to heal.

For people who live with more severe dermatillomania, there is a way out. If

you or a loved one have a habit you find impossible to overcome alone, remember that there are other people like you. Behavioral and pharmacological treatments are available so you can begin the recovery process of healing from the inside and out. Skin picking can be difficult to deal with, but the healthy skin that results when we stop is a gift.


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Disclaimer: Unless otherwise explicitly stated, the content on this blog, including all articles, videos, and other information, is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.