Habit Reversal Training For Skin Picking: How To Stop Picking Your Skin

skin picking hrt

Do you constantly pick at your skin? If so, you’re not alone. Skin picking, also known as dermatillomania, is a common problem that can cause a lot of distress. In this blog post, we will discuss habit reversal training (HRT) and how it can help you stop picking your skin. HRT is a behavioral treatment that is effective in treating skin picking disorder. We will go over the basics of HRT and how to get started with this treatment approach.

What Is Skin Picking?

skin picking

Skin picking, also known as dermatillomania or excoriation disorder, is a mental health condition that causes a person to compulsively pick at their skin. This can result in damage to the skin, including bleeding, scarring, and infection. Skin picking often starts during adolescence or young adulthood and can become a chronic problem if left untreated. People with skin picking disorder may pick at their skin for hours every day, causing significant distress and disruption to their lives.


skin picking symptoms

If you or someone you know is compulsively picking at their skin, there are a few signs to look out for. These include:

  • Excessive skin picking, often to the point of injury
  • An inability to stop picking despite repeated attempts
  • Significant distress or impairment in daily functioning due to skin picking
  • Bleeding, bruising or scabbing from picking
  • Excessive research/questioning about various skin problems
  • Infection of the skin from picking
  • Wearing long sleeves or pants all the time, even in hot weather
  • Frequently touching or rubbing the skin
  • Picking at scabs or acne
  • Having scars from picking
  • Avoiding social situations due to embarrassment about the skin picking


Skin picking can have several negative effects on a person’s life.

  • The constant picking can lead to skin damage, infection, and scarring.
  • It can also cause social isolation and anxiety.
  • In severe cases, it can interfere with a person’s ability to work or go to school.
  • People with skin picking disorder may also have other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
  • Skin pickers may also engage in other compulsions, such as hair pulling (trichotillomania) or nail-biting.

Habit Reversal Training For Skin Picking

skin picking hrt

Habit reversal training (HRT) is a behavioral treatment that is effective in treating skin picking disorder. HRT involves four main steps:

  1. Identifying the triggers that cause you to pick your skin. These triggers can be different for everyone. Some common triggers include boredom, stress, anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed. Once you have identified your triggers, you can start working on the other steps of HRT.
  2. Learning new skills and behaviors to replace skin picking. These new skills and behaviors should be something that you can do instead of picking your skin. Some examples include clenching your fists, using a fidget toy, or taking deep breaths.
  3. Practicing these new skills and behaviors until they become automatic. This step can take some time and patience. It is important to keep practicing even when you don’t feel like it or when you slip up and pick your skin.
  4. Generalizing these new skills and behaviors to different situations. This means being able to use the new skills and behaviors in different places and with different people. This step can be challenging, but it is important to keep.

How Does It Help?

HRT can help treat skin picking disorders because it teaches people new skills and behaviors to replace their skin picking. It also helps people to identify their triggers and learn how to avoid them. HRT is a long-term treatment that requires commitment and practice, but it can be very effective in helping people to reduce or stop their skin picking.

Alternative Treatment Options

There are a few other treatment options for skin picking disorder. These include:


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that can help you change your thoughts and behaviors. CBT can help treat skin picking disorder by teaching you new ways to deal with stress and anxiety.

Stress management: Stress management techniques, such as relaxation techniques or exercise, can help you reduce the amount of stress in your life. This can make it easier to resist the urge to pick your skin.

Medication: Medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, may be prescribed if you have another mental health condition along with a skin picking disorder. These medications can help treat the underlying condition and may reduce the urge to pick your skin.

Self-Help Tips

There are a few things that you can do to help reduce the urge to pick your skin. These include:

Keeping your hands busy: This can be done by carrying around a fidget toy or playing with putty.

Wearing gloves: Wearing gloves can help prevent you from picking your skin. You can also use Band-Aids to cover up any areas that you are tempted to pick.

Identifying your triggers: Once you know what triggers your skin picking, you can start to work on avoiding those triggers or finding new ways to deal with them.

Staying mindful: It is important to be aware of when you are picking your skin and why. This can help you catch yourself before you start picking and help you find new ways to deal with your triggers.


In conclusion, skin picking disorder is a common problem that can cause a lot of distress and damage. However, there are treatment options available that can help. If you think you may have a skin-picking disorder, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

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