Excoriation disorder is a skin-picking condition. People with excoriation disorder will pick, scratch, rub, and pull at their skin at times, which can cause damage to the skin tissue.

Skin picking can be a symptom of many other conditions. Research from 2020 has linked it to mental health conditions, such as generalized anxiety and Depression..

Skin picking can be a symptom of an immune system condition. The symptoms of some autoimmune conditions can make skin picking a habit.

There is a connection between excoriation disorder and the autoimmune conditions.

The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5)” defines excoriation disorder as a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, it falls into a category of symptoms called body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB).

People with excoriation disorder pick at their skin for hours. People with the condition tend to pick their face, but they may also focus on other areas of their body.

People with this condition find it difficult to control their impulse to do something. A doctor needs to determine if the damage to your skin is due to a skin condition or a problem with your skin.

Skin-picking disorder is one of the conditions that can occur.

A 2020 study suggests that excoriation disorder may affect 3 to 5 in every 100 people. Skin-picking disorder is statistically more common in women than in men.

Exoriation disorder can be caused by autoimmune conditions. If you have a history of mental health or psychological conditions, this is more likely.

Many of these conditions are linked to each other, known as comorbidities. This means a person will often have several of these conditions in addition to excoriation disorder.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition linked to inflammation in your joints. This inflammation can lead to itching on your skin at the site of the affected areas. Itching from RA can then progress to skin picking.


Lupus is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation. If you have lupus, you can develop lesions on your lower legs or the ends of your fingers and toes. These lesions may be itchy, and scratching them can become a compulsive behavior.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes patches of raised scales on your skin. Inflammation causes these scales. They can be itchy and discolored. The urge to pick off these scales can become excoriation disorder.

Multiple sclerosis

Many people believe multiple sclerosis (MS) to be, at least in part, an autoimmune condition. MS affects your central nervous system.

The sensation of things crawling on your skin is one of the symptoms of Multiplesclerosis. This sensation can cause an itch.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune response to cells in your pancreas. This type of diabetes often causes lesions to develop on your skin. Picking at these lesions can become a compulsion.

Small wounds and ulcers can quickly become more severe when you have diabetes. Skin-picking disorder can make those problems worse.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that causes your white blood cells to attack your thyroid, limiting its function. That means it has an impact on your hormones and metabolism.

“It doesn’t lead to skin problems. It is a risk factor for several other conditions, such as type 1 diabetes.”


Dermatomyositis causes muscle inflammation as well as a distinctive skin rash. A viral infection or cancer can trigger it. The rash can be itchy and cover large portions of your body.

People with this condition may try to scratch away dry patches and end up repeating the behavior over and over.


While not technically an autoimmune condition, eczema is still connected to the way your immune system functions. Eczema flares can be naturally itchy, and scratching and peeling off flakes from eczema can become a compulsive behavior.

There are symptoms of excoriation disorder.

  • You picked your skin.
  • You feel a urge to pick your skin.
  • You can remove what you see as impurities by using a skin cleanser.
  • A consistent feeling of itching.
  • It is scar tissue on your face, arms, and other parts of your body.
  • Repeated attempts to stop picking are not successful.

“Shame accompanies the desire to pick your skin. You may feel guilty for harming your body with skin picking, even though you don’t feel like you can stop.”

There is a two-pronged approach to treatment for Excoriation disorder.

If you have an auto Immune disorder, you need to treat the underlying condition to get rid of itching. The symptoms of excoriation disorder will come back if the underlying cause is not treated.

“It isn’t enough to treat an underlying autoimmune condition. People with severe excoriation disorder will pick healed areas. Mental health treatments can help modify skin-picking behaviors.”


The amount of compulsion you feel is reduced by the medication used to treat excoriation disorder. These medications may include something.

Behavioral therapy

You may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or habit reversal therapy (HRT) to help treat symptoms of excoriation disorder. These treatments focus on changing your pattern of thinking.

A small 2020 study demonstrated that participants treated with CBT protocols saw:

  • healed skin
  • There is a reduction in skin-picking behaviors.
  • reduction in symptoms of Depression. or anxiety

In a 2019 review of studies, people who used HRT reported healed skin and a decrease in skin picking. HRT can be done on your own, with the aid of a self-help manual. The studies didn’t look into the long-term benefits of HRT.

There is more research that needs to be done to demonstrate how effective HRT is.

Home management

You can practice mental health strategies at home if you want to supplement your treatment for excoriation disorder. The evidence supporting these remedies is anecdotal.

You may consider that.

  • meditation, which may help ground you and help lower the urge to pick your skin
  • mindfulness, which may help you feel less anxious
  • yoga or another meditative exercise practice
  • Spending time outside.

Home remedies can help with mental health and can help you reduce skin-picking behaviors. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional.

  • Your skin-picking is affecting your quality of life.
  • You are picking healthy skin.
  • You have a disease.

Autoimmune disorders have been linked to excoriation disorder, a type of OCD. Underlying inflammation, itching, and rashes can lead to skin picking, which then progresses to compulsive behavior. For people who already have mental health conditions that put them at risk, autoimmune symptoms can trigger excoriation disorder.

You can use medication and therapies to manage excoriation disorder. This condition can lead to infections and scarring if not treated. If you are having the urge to pick your skin, speak to your doctor.