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Ryan LCSW, Mental Health
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 872
Experience:  Individual and Family Therapist
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When a person has compulsive skin picking, or

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When a person has compulsive skin picking, or dermatillomania, what causes them to eat the scab that they picked off?
Thanks for your question. My name is ***** ***** I'd like to help you out.

Since this person is already exhibiting compulsive behavior, then typically there would also be an irrational compulsive thought that is driving the desire to eat the scab. This would function similarly to the irrational compulsive thought that is driving the compulsive skin picking. In this way, unless this person just likes the taste of scabs, they have likely convinced themselves that there is some redeeming quality in doing this. Perhaps they feel that it cancels out the skin picking, or that it puts what they have picked off back into their body. The justification behind it most likely doesn't make sense, but it is more a symptom of these same compulsive irrational thoughts that have otherwise manifested itself as skin picking.

I hope I've been able to answer your question, and if there's anything else I can do to help please let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Does it make a difference if the compulsion was started as a child? The person I am asking about has a very difficult home life. Alcoholic parents, emotional neglect, bullied by a big brother. They are a very sensitive child and seem sad a lot of the time.

The biggest difference in the compulsion starting as a child would be the difficulty in breaking this compulsion. Typically the longer they persist the more challenging they can become. These types of compulsions are driven by high levels of anxiety, so sadly it's not uncommon for someone who has come from a difficult home life and circumstances like you described to have a very high level of anxiety, and that can start to show itself in these compulsive traits.
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