Phenomenology and Epidemiology of Pathological Skin Picking

Brian L. Odlaug and Jon E. Grant

in The Oxford Handbook of Impulse Control Disorders

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195389715
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199940431 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Phenomenology and Epidemiology of Pathological Skin Picking

Show Summary Details


Pathological skin picking (PSP), or neurotic excoriation, is characterized by the repetitive and compulsive picking of skin, causing tissue damage. It appears to have a prevalence rate of 1.4%–5.4% in the general population and is seen predominantly in females in clinical settings. Individuals with PSP may pick for hours each day, resulting in significant scarring, infections, and medical complications. Although PSP is common, most individuals with this disorder are unaware of treatment options and thus often do not seek treatment. Co-occurring psychiatric conditions are common in PSP, with depressive, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders presenting as the most prevalent conditions. Significant psychosocial impairment and activity avoidance due to shame and embarrassment are frequent. Neurocognitive research has recently shown that individuals with PSP have deficits in inhibitory control, a finding similar to that found in trichotillomania. From a public health perspective, concurrent collaboration between dermatology and the behavioral sciences is imperative for future advances in the understanding and treatment of PSP.

Keywords: clinical characteristics; comorbidity; dermatology; impulse control disorders; neurotic excoriation; obsessive-compulsive spectrum; pathological skin picking; skin

Article.  6958 words. 

Subjects: Clinical Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.