Who picks their skin?
- A study conducted by Sabine Wilhelm
and her colleagues in 1998 sought
to describe people who pick their
skin. These researchers found a majority
of their subjects to be female (87%),
almost half were married, while 19%
were divorced and 29% were single.
Most of their subjects were well educated
(39% had finished college and 35%
had graduate degrees). The average
age of onset for skin picking was
15 years, the course of the behavior
tended to be chronic (lasting over
time), although the behavior tended
to wax and wane over the years.
- In this study, 39% of the subjects
reported having a dermatologic illness
(mostly acne) when the behavior first
began. Almost half of the subjects
had close relatives (parents or siblings)
who also picked their skin, again
supporting the notion that skin picking
may have a biological basis.
Severe skin picking appears to be a way for some people to increase their activity levels when they are bored, or to control their emotions when they are anxious, tense, or upset.
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