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Behav Modif. 2002 Jul;26(3):320-39.

Skin picking in German students. Prevalence, phenomenology, and associated characteristics.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, USA.

Abstract

Severe skin picking (SP) is a repetitive, intentionally performed behavior that causes noticeable tissue damage and results in clinically significant distress or impairment. To date, SP has received little attention in the psychiatric literature. This study was conducted to further investigate SP and its characteristics in a German student population. The participants (N = 133) completed various self-report questionnaires. More than 90% (n = 122) reported occasional SP, with six students (4.6%) endorsing significant impairment from recurrent, self-injurious SP. SP was triggered by specific cutaneous stimuli, situations, and emotions. The students primarily squeezed (85%) and scratched (77.4%) the skin, with a primary focus on the face (94.7%) and cuticles (52.6%). About 20% (n = 26) ate the picked tissue afterward. Results suggest SP is an underrecognized problem that occurs on a continuum ranging from mild to severe with generally stable clinical characteristics across cultures.

PMID:
12080904
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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