Treatment strategies for dermatillomania. Literature review

Emilija Narvydaitė1, Rima Viliūnienė2

1Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania

2Clinic of Psychiatry, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania


Introduction: dermatillomania is one of the psychocutaneous disorders that can have negative consequences for the patient’s health. This condition manifests itself in a difficult-to-control constant need to touch, scratch, or otherwise damage the skin. It has been proved that stress and other psychological factors have a significant effect on the manifestation of dermatillomania. It is very important to properly assess the need for medications and combine their use with behavior-modifying therapy. Appropriate treatment can reduce the physical and psychological consequences of dermatillomania.

Aim of the work: to overview the available scientific literature and discuss possible pharmacological and non-pharmacological and alternative treatment strategies for the treatment of dermatillomania.

Methodology: literature search was performed in the database PubMed covering 2001 to 2021 period. Selected and reviewed 26 articles in English. Articles on trichothillomania and onychophagia were not included in the search.  

Results: the treatment of dermatillomania is multifaceted and consists of relieving the symptoms of the mental disorder and reducing skin defects. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are considered to be the most effective medications when treating the mental component of dermatillomania. Pharmacotherapy must be combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy to achieve long-term results.

Conclusions: appropriate combined treatment of dermatillomania can reduce morbidity, relieve symptoms, and prevent serious complications of the disease. When treating dermatillomania, it is important to pay attention to the psychogenic origin of the disease and to combine the use of medications with behavior-modifying psychotherapy.


Keywords: dermatillomania, skin-picking disorder, neurotic excoriations, psychogenic excoriations, excoriation disorder.