Why in the world do we pick at our skin? by Annette Pasternak, Ph.D.

The Trichotillomania Learning Center

Excerpt from the book, Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop, by Annette Pasternak, Ph.D.

Skin Pikcing: The freedom to Finally StopSome skin picking is normal and to some extent almost universal. Nearly everyone will pop an odd pimple, flake off a bit of dry skin, peel the remnants of a sunburn, or trim a hangnail. Animals tend to do it too – they bite at their skin or fur when it is irritated. We like to “fix” things, smooth them out, remove what doesn’t seem to belong. To the normal extent that we do these behaviors, they serve a grooming purpose, and have persisted presumably because of some evolutionary benefit, perhaps either making us more attractive to the opposite sex or protecting us from infection.

Why did such a normal behavior get out of hand and become a problem for some of us? There are different explanations for why, none of which have been validated scientifically…

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