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What drives skin-picking behaviour?

Skin picking, which involves manipulating the skin with nails or other tools, can result in a range of skin damage, from minor to severe. Clinical indications of skin picking on the hands include redness, erosion, bleeding wounds, scabs, thickened skin, and often the absence of cuticles.

This behaviour spans from relatively normal habits to pathological skin picking associated with compulsive-impulsive tendencies or other psychiatric conditions, leading to functional impairments or distress. In the general population, the lifetime prevalence of pathological skin picking is estimated to be between 1.4% and 5.2%, and it may be even higher in individuals with skin conditions.

This habit is quite prevalent among healthcare workers like nurses due to the wet work they have to do. Nevertheless, other factors also contribute to this behaviour, such as perfectionist tendencies, not having any other coping mechanism to manage their own stress and traumas, dry skin that is made worse by the wet work, and exposure to irritants like rubber gloves that can cause contact dermatitis, which leads to more skin picking.

If you or someone you know suffers from skin picking, please call to make an appointment with our hypno-counsellors. Text or call +60123300415. Skin-picking often leads to lesions primarily localized around the nails, frequently resulting in the loss of cuticles due to active manipulation.



About the Author


Dr. Lennie Soo

Founder and Clinical Director of 360 Wellness Hub.

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