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Skin picking: one teenager’s struggle

Vol. 3, No. 5 / May 2004

I am most grateful for “Captive of the mirror” (Current Psychiatry, December 2003) by Drs. Jon Grant and Katharine Phillips.

I am a 19-year-old female college student who has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and trichotillomania. I have bitten my nails all my life, have been taking SSRIs since age 12, and have had numerous problems related to skin-picking. Since adolescence I have obsessively picked and squeezed at acne and miniscule bumps on my face, causing redness, bruising and—in some cases—bleeding. I would then hide from the world, sometimes for days, until the wounds healed.

Until now, I didn’t know skin picking was a recognized disorder, let alone common. Your article is a detailed, clear, evidence-based summary of the problem and possible treatments, most of which I never knew existed. After having tried many things with limited success, I am taking the article to a psychiatrist so that I can discuss options. For the first time in months, I am filled with hope.

(Editor’s Note: The author’s name is being withheld to protect her privacy.)

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