Individuals with excoriation disorder may pick at healthy skin, skin irregularities (such as pimples or calluses), or scabs. The most common picking sites are the face, arms, and hands, but individuals may pick at skin any place on the body.
The lesions resulting from picking may be fairly minor or very noticeable. The person may disguise the skin injuries with makeup, bandages, or clothing.
A person with excoriation disorder may pick in response to an urge, after noticing a skin irregularity, or in response to boredom or anxiety. Individuals with excoriation disorder often report feeling gratification, satisfaction, or relief after picking. Many people with excoriation disorder also report that they often pick without being fully aware that they are picking. Adults with childhood onset skin picking have been found to report less awareness compared to those with later symptom onset.
For excoriation disorder to be diagnosed, the picking or its consequences needs to be distressing (upsetting) or impairing (getting in the way of the person’s life).