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Skin Picking and Addiction

Skin Picking and Addiction

Types of Drugs That Cause Skin-Picking

Many people struggling with substance abuse will simultaneously have a skin-picking addiction known as dermatillomania. Skin picking disorders are classified as a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder due to the compulsive nature of the picking. It is important to note that skin picking resulting from a substance use disorder may not qualify as a compulsive disorder, as itching is the catalyst of the picking rather than a psychological stressor. Regardless, certain drugs cause skin picking, making addiction to these substances more damaging.

Why Do People Pick Their Skin?

Skin-picking disorders typically manifest when a person notices an imperfection, such as a scab or scar, on their skin. They begin to pick at the imperfection, which results in more damage to the area and prevents healing. This becomes a cycle that many struggle to break away from on their own. Many of those who are suffering will develop more scars from picking skin, further perpetuating the whirlpool that those affected find themselves trapped in.

Depending on where the sores are located, it can also lead a person to develop issues with their appearance and self-image, leading them to distract themselves through destructive means, like drug abuse. It is also possible for an addiction to occur first, with certain drug-related behaviors leading to the development of the sores and scars in question.

What Drugs Make You Pick Your Skin?

The substances that are known to make people pick their skin typically include methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and certain prescription drugs. Methamphetamine is perhaps one of the most common reasons that a person will pick their skin, typically due to the prevalence of sores referred to as “meth mites.” The prominence of these sores, paired with the psychological franticness that is a cornerstone of meth abuse, commonly results in a person picking at the sores to the point of scarring.

Another drug that leads to painful lesions is heroin, typically because of the intravenous nature of the abuse. When a person injects themselves regularly, they will likely end up with injuries, scabs, and scarring referred to as “road lines.” They may pick at the injection site, leading to infections that can range in severity if not properly addressed. People who inject cocaine also risk irritation, rash, and pustule infections. 

Finally, certain prescription stimulants, particularly those used to treat ADHD, can cause side effects like hives, rashes, and fluid-filled bumps, which can become the target of skin picking. If this is the case, it is important to speak with the doctor who prescribed them to address the symptoms rather than allow them to escalate into a bigger problem.

For those with heroin itching or meth mites (aka meth sores), skin picking can be especially dangerous. Heroin itching and meth mites can lead to worsening injuries, and one with a skin-picking addiction will continue to cause damage to the body. Worse yet, the stresses experienced during detox may cause patients to continue to pick at their sores, scabs, or skin more, especially for those who suffer from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Heal Picked Skin and Your Addiction

Patients suffering from dual-diagnosis disorders such as anxiety and drug addiction may struggle with skin picking during treatment and beyond. The treatment professionals at our Illinois drug rehab understand how to treat addiction without exacerbating a skin-picking disorder. Our curriculum of behavioral therapies can help curtail these bad habits while other steps can be taken to address the damage done to the skin.

These steps can include:

  • Keeping the areas clean.
  • Applying pressure if a site that has been picked is bleeding.
  • Using an antibiotic cream on the picked areas to avoid infection.
  • Covering any wounds with bandages.
  • Regularly changing the bandages when needed.

Just as a compulsive habit needs to be properly addressed, so does the addiction that caused it in the first place. Luckily, Banyan offers options for Heartland drug treatment, with programs that can address addictions to meth, heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs. We are committed to helping each of our patients make the most of their time healing with us, and we encourage alumni to continue with aftercare programs that will help them maintain what they have learned.

If you or someone you love is in need of drug or alcohol addiction treatment, call our team at Banyan’s Heartland Treatment Center at 888-280-4763 for effective therapies and support.

Related Reading

What Alcohol Does to Your Skin

Cocaine Skin Problems




If you or someone you love is in need of drug or alcohol addiction treatment, call our team at Banyan Treatment Center Heartland for effective therapies and support. We offer both heroin and meth addiction treatment programs that can address all of your concerns. Call 888-280-4763 to learn more about our treatment programs.

Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.