Diagnostic Criteria

A. Recurrent skin picking resulting in skin lesions.

B. Repeated attempts to decrease or stop skin picking.

C. The skin picking causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D. The skin picking is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., cocaine) or another medical condition (e.g., scabies).

E. The skin picking is not better explained by symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., delusions or tactile hallucinations in a psychotic disorder, attempts to improve a perceived defect or flaw in appearance in body dysmorphic disorder, stereotypies in stereotypic movement disorder, or intention to harm oneself in nonsuicidal self-injury).

Differential Diagnosis

Psychotic disorder

Skin picking may occur in response to a delusion (i.e., parasitosis) or tactile hallucination (i.e., formication) in a psychotic disorder. In such cases, excoriation disorder should not be diagnosed.

Other obsessive-compulsive and related disorders

Excessive washing compulsions in response to contamination obsessions in individuals with OCD may lead to skin lesions, and skin picking may occur in individuals with body dysmorphic disorder who pick their skin solely because of appearance concerns; in such cases, excoriation disorder should not be diagnosed. The description of body-focused repetitive behavior disorder in other specified obsessive-compulsive and related disorder excludes individuals whose symptoms meet diagnostic criteria for excoriation disorder.

Neurodevelopmental disorders

While stereotypic movement disorder may be characterized by repetitive self-injurious behavior, onset is in the early developmental period. For example, individuals with the neurogenetic condition Prader-Willi syndrome may have early onset of skin picking, and their symptoms may meet criteria for stereotypic movement disorder. While tics in individuals with Tourette's disorder may lead to self-injury, the behavior is not tic-like in excoriation disorder.

Somatic symptom and related disorders

Excoriation disorder is not diagnosed if the skin lesion is primarily attributable to deceptive behaviors in factitious disorder.

Other disorders

Excoriation disorder is not diagnosed if the skin picking is primarily attributable to the intention to harm oneself that is characteristic of nonsuicidal self-injury.

Other medical conditions

Excoriation disorder is not diagnosed if the skin picking is primarily attributable to another medical condition. For example, scabies is a dermatological condition invariably associated with severe itching and scratching. However, excoriation disorder may be precipitated or exacerbated by an underlying dermatological condition. For example, acne may lead to some scratching and picking, which may also be associated with comorbid excoriation disorder. The differentiation between these two clinical situations (acne with some scratching and picking vs. acne with comorbid excoriation disorder) requires an assessment of the extent to which the individual's skin picking has become independent of the underlying dermatological condition.

Substance/medication-induced disorders

Skin-picking symptoms may also be induced by certain substances (e.g., cocaine), in which case excoriation disorder should not be diagnosed. If such skin picking is clinically significant, then a diagnosis of substance/medication-induced obsessive-compulsive and related disorder should be considered.

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