How to Treat Skin Picking in Children

By Sarah Lipoff

Skin picking is a compulsive disorder that affects children causing them to constantly pick at their skin, many times their face. Sometimes children may pick at at moles, scabs, freckles or acne until the skin bleeds. Skin picking may be a way to relieve tension in children or cause a feeling of relief afterwards. Persistent skin picking in children is considered an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Start by observing the child and what types of items they are picking at. Take notes in a journal about the child’s behavior and if they are dealing with any stressful situations around the time they are picking at their skin. Determine if the child is picking at scabs or physical markings on their skin and make note.

Eliminate all skin issues that may cause the child to pick at their skin. Dry skin or a rash may cause skin picking. Clearing any skin conditions may assist with stopping the child’s desire to pick at their skin.

Talk with the child about reasons they might feel stressed or anxious. Discuss with them helpful and healthy ways to express their feelings by sharing with others. Talk about ways to help the child change their behavior so they can stop picking at their skin.

Contact a doctor to discuss the child’s skin picking and schedule an appointment to discuss the correct solution. A doctor may prescribe medication to help ease the child’s desire to pick.

Create a support system of people to help change the child’s behavior. Talk with the child’s teachers and other adults they have interactions with and ask them to help encourage the child to stop picking at their skin.

Understand that skin picking will not stop overnight. The impulse to pick at their skin may take time to dissipate in a child. Stay diligent and consistent to help the child change their behavior and impulses, and skin picking will be eliminated in time.

Things You Will Need

  • Journal
  • Pencil

About the Author

Sarah Lipoff has been writing since 2008. She has been published through BabyZone, Parents, Funderstanding and Education.com. Lipoff has worked as a K-12 art teacher, museum educator and preschool teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science in K-12 art education from St. Cloud State University.