Dermatillomania is a mental illness closely related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and body dysmorphia. It is treated through behavioral therapy and prescription SSRI’s. Reduction of the anxiety component is essential and therefore CBD Oil may be an excellent way to help symptoms.
Dermatillomania, also known as excoriation disorder or skin picking disorder, is a mental illness where patients compulsively pick at their skin. It is closely related to obsessive compulsive disorder, and is considered to be one of the disorders on the OC-spectrum.
In some cases, sufferers are able to change this behavior on their own, however some require professional treatment in order to curb this behavior. It is common for most people to pick at their skin occasionally, but if a person cannot stop despite the fact that it is painful or problematic to them, they could have the disorder.
Symptoms Of Dermatillomania
People with the disorder often tend to pick with their fingers, fingernails, teeth or with tools like tweezers, pins or scissors. A few other signs and symptoms to consider if you are concerned you might have this disorder are, as previously mentioned, the inability to stop picking. Picking to a point where it causes cuts, bleeding or bruising of the skin. The desire to “perfect” the skin by picking at all types of blemishes, including moles, freckles, and scars. Picking while asleep or without realizing it, or picking as a compulsive behavior while under stress or feeling anxious.
Ways to Quit
There are a few things you can try in order to help curb this behavior on your own without taking medication or seeking professional help. Keep your hands busy, try using a stress doll, squeezing a ball, or even wearing gloves. Take note of when you are most likely to skin pick, and try to avoid those situations if possible. Resist resist resist, every time you delay picking by fighting the urge helps.
Try caring for your skin instead of picking, use a hand moisturizer etc, this ties in with keeping your hands busy. Keep your skin clean in order to avoid infection. Don’t be afraid to share the fact that you have a problem. Other people can help you recognize bad habits by providing an outside perspective. Finally, if you have a tendency to use your fingernails to pick, keep them short. Likewise if you use a tool like tweezers, scissors or the like, try not keeping those items around where they are easily accessible.
If none of these methods work and you still cannot stop picking your skin, it’s important to discuss the options with your doctor. Professional help for skin picking may be required if you’re causing serious damage to your skin, or if picking your skin is causing you emotional distress or affecting your daily life. In many cases, your doctor may recommend pharmaceutical drugs, however if you do not suffer from more severe forms of OC-spectrum disorders, this might not be ideal due to the fact that many prescription based drugs, such as SSRIs, often have negative side effects. Sadly some of these side effects can even last a lifetime. That doesn’t mean that there is no hope, however.
CBD and Health Conditions
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What About CBD?
Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, may provide a gentler, natural alternative for milder forms of OCD, such as dermatillomania. Cannabidiol is a chemical compound found in cannabis. It does not get the user ‘high’ like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the chemical compound commonly associated with marijuana use. CBD is extracted from industrial hemp, which contains low amounts of THC, and can be isolated even further so that there is little to no THC present (0.3% THC is the federally allowed limit in CBD products). CBD provides the medical benefits of cannabis without unwanted psychoactive side effects. CBD has already been established to be effective in improving the symptoms of OCD in scientific studies.
One research study involved injecting rats with a compound that induces OCD-like behaviors and panic attacks in mammals. Upon injection, the rats were placed in sand-filled cages with marbles. The rats started burying marbles almost immediately when they were placed in the cages. Next, the rats were administered with a form of liquid CBD, and their behavior changed almost immediately. The rats stopped the marble-burying behavior and resumed their normal functions. This animal study shows how CBD can be used to potentially end anxiety induced behavior and restore normal brain function. Although humans and animals are different, this study is important because rats and humans do share a common physiology.
Because of its neuroleptic effects, CBD may be able to reduce the severity of obsessive compulsive behaviors in children, adults and even pets. The combination of CBD’s anxiolytic, anti-epileptic and antipsychotic qualities make it a potentially good supplement for a broad spectrum of anxiety disorders.
The degree of impairment caused by obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders like excoriation disorder vary from person to person. Everyone’s physiology is slightly different, so again, it’s important to discuss these symptoms with your doctor if you are considering taking CBD for dermatillomania. Still, for some people it may be worth exploring how CBD could potentially help with their symptoms. This is especially true for those who have had difficulty treating their symptoms with traditional medicines like SSRIs. Some may find that a natural alternative like CBD works best for them.
If you are interested in learning more about CBD for OCD and OC-spectrum disorders, click here.