Why Covid-19 is a Nightmare for someone with Dermatillomania

Washing your hands and keeping your hands away from your face are the first things you hear from the CDC when Covid-19 broke out. Simple tasks that should be an easy thing to follow for the everyday person. But for someone like myself with dermatillomania the task is far from simple. Dermatillomania is related to OCD and is a condition when someone has the urge to repetitively and compulsively pick at their skin. Skin picking can be a reaction to stress and anxiety. 

My dermatillomania causes me to often pick my lips, fingernails and toenails till they bleed. This condition has often caused shame and scars. I remember sitting in a doctor’s waiting room as a child, picking nervously at my nail beds, biting and tearing at skin. Peeling away any loose skin I could find and then getting frustrated when I started to bleed. My mom would put her hand over mine and say to stop picking but the more I was forced to stop the more I felt this urgency to pick. My lips were not an exception. Whenever I was stressed I would also often find myself subconsciously picking at my lips. I would be talking to someone and while I did it I would just start picking at my lips, finding every dry skin I could and remove it. 

Covid-19 has caused much stress, anxiety and uncertainty in our world. Because of this uncertainty and anxiety it has caused my dermatillomania to flare during a time I should be keeping my hands far away from my face. My lips are usually my go to when I want to pick. I don’t usually know I’m doing it till they start bleeding, which can be dangerous if I’m not paying attention. It has been said that Covid-19 can remain on surfaces for up to three days which can be critical if you touch your face often even if you are super careful about washing your hands.

To help prevent myself from picking and protect myself during this pandemic I have tried several techniques. I have started wearing gloves when I go out in public. I can’t control the outside world so when I go out I make sure I protect myself from subconsciously picking. Gloves seem to help me from picking my nails and help protect me from unclean surfaces. For my lips I try to wear some kind of lipstick or chapstick that does not dry my lips out. That way my lips are moisturized and I feel the need to keep the color of the lipstick on so I don’t pick away at it.

Do you have dermatillomania, skin picking disorder? How has Covid-19 affected you?

Published by Amelia Blackwater

I am feminist writer and poet trying to raise awareness on topics such as mental health and physical disabilities. I often write about things such as invisible illnesses and mental health/illness related topics.

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