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Skin Picking: What Treatments Are Available?

Currently, Skin Picking Disorder is treated much like trichotillomania. Research into treatments has grown steadily over the past decade. Although no one treatment has been found to be effective for everyone, a number of treatment options have shown promise for some people. You may need to experiment with different combinations of treatments and tools to find what works for you.

Members of TLC's Scientific Advisory Board have reviewed the latest state-of-the-art treatments and provided these guidelines for those seeking treatment for hair pulling and skin picking problems. ReadExpert Consensus Treatment Guidelines for Trichotillomania and Skin Picking >>

The two primary treatments are currently Habit Reversal Training and Stimulus Control. Although few studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of these treatments, several case studies and small investigations support the use of HRT and SC for skin picking. In addition, there is some research support for the use of certain medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, paroxetine, citalopram and escitalopram. Additionally, preliminary research indicates that the effectiveness of certain medications in reducing impulses for specific behaviors (such as alcohol abuse) may also be useful in treating CSP.

To find a Treatment Provider near you, visit TLCs professional referrals to treatment practitioners and support groups.

Habit Reversal Training

The primary treatment approach for CSP is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy called Habit Reversal Training (HRT). Over the years, HRT has been expanded to become a comprehensive approach to understanding the physical and emotional triggers, situational factors and associated behaviors involved in problems like chronic skin picking. Once these factors, are understood, alternative coping strategies are taught. This includes instruction in competing motor responses that actually prevent you from picking-for example, keeping your hands busy by holding and squeezing a rubber ball whenever you feel the urge to pick at your skin.

Stimulus Control

Another approach to treatment is called Stimulus Control (SC), which involves modifying physical aspects of a skin picker's environment to reduce sensory input that leads to picking. For example, if looking closely at your skin in the bathroom mirror causes you to pick your face, then the sensory input of seeing your pores needs to be modified. Try putting a piece of tape on the floor to remind you not to get too close to the mirror. If just touching your skin is a trigger for you, you might wear gloves, Band-Aids, or rubber fingertips to prevent you from feeling your skin and help you resist the urge to pick. Or you might be instructed to avoid or alter situations that are high risk to you, such as sitting for long periods of time reading or using the computer. Overall, it is important to recognize that skin picking can be a complex problem and might need to be approached from several different angles to treat it properly.

Other Effective Treatments

Follow the links below to learn more about effective treatments for skin picking, as well as trichotillomania.

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