What Is the Relationship Between Skin-Picking and Eating Disorders?

Close-up of woman's hands picking at her fingernail bed.

People suffering from eating disorders present an array of physical signs and indicators that often have little to do with their actual relationship with food. Specific compulsions can coincide with their condition, showing in unpredictable ways that someone with a keen eye for detail can identify.

However, knowing which signs are comorbidity and which aren’t can prove difficult if you don’t know what to look for. For example, if you have noticed a loved one picking away at their skin, it should be something you take note of and take seriously.

If you’re wondering about the relationship between skin-picking and eating disorders, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll discuss what skin-picking consists of and why someone suffering from an eating disorder might display this compulsive behavior.

What Is Skin-Picking?

Skin-picking consists of repetitive behavior where someone targets specific areas of the body and tears and picks at them until they’re broken apart or destroyed. Usually, the face is the primary target; however, other areas such as finger cuticles, hair, or other areas can become the subject of the compulsion.

The severity of the condition varies from person to person and is often an unconscious action. It can quickly become a comorbid condition with OCD, body dysmorphic disorder, anxiety disorders, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders.

What Are Comorbid Disorders?

When someone is dealing with comorbidities, this means that they have two or more common disorders affecting them at the same time. Comorbid eating disorders are common, with people developing additional conditions in response to their initial diagnosis. As they continue to obsess over what is wrong with how they look, they can turn to skin-picking to try and exert control over something.

The Relationship Between OCD and Eating Disorders

Skin-picking falls within the range of the obsessive-compulsive disorder spectrum, but what some people may not realize is how closely related that is to eating disorders. Once considered among the grouping of anxiety disorders, OCD has become its own distinct category of condition.

Since eating disorders like bulimia and binge eating tend to go hand in hand with skin-picking conditions, knowing what signs to look for regarding both conditions can help you identify and get in front of them before they worsen. Some of these signs include:

  • Eating more quickly than usual
  • Obsessing over body weight
  • Feeling guilty when they overeat
  • Mood swings
  • Eating alone out of shame or embarrassment
  • Secretive eating patterns
  • Compulsively picking at their face, fingernails, or hair

Know Where You Can Turn to for Eating Disorder Treatments in Columbiana, AL

When someone suffers from comorbidities like skin picking and eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders, you want to find an eating disorder treatment center that has an established reputation for helping build a strong support network and a renewed sense of hope.

Magnolia Creek Treatment Center for Eating Disorders has helped countless women learn about the underlying causes of their bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating, and skin-picking disorders and devise a personalized treatment program for each patient. If you or someone you love currently suffers from an eating disorder, don’t hesitate. Contact our team today at 866-319-5117 to learn more about our various treatment programs and admissions process.



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