Dermatillomania is the compulsive need to pick at skin. The majority of people suffering with this chronic condition pick their skin to relieve stress or anxiety. When severe, this form of OCD can lead to open sores that never heal and scarring.
When children are affected with this condition, especially as toddlers, pediatricians encourage parents to "ignore" the behavior. Picking at skin can be a sort of pacifier to young children. Most children will outgrow this habit and are not at risk for a diagnosis of OCD and Dermatillomania as adults. On the other hand, if a child has sores or rashes from picking at skin, a physician may need to address these medical issues.
J picks at her face not to the point of leaving red marks or sores, but she has definitely developed the habit. As a parent, I worry and as much as I trust my pediatrician, I still need to do my own research. I found something really facinating in my google search.
The article essentially states, children with speech delays are prone to picking due to the frustration of being unable to communicate their feelings and anxieties. Ding! Ding! Ding! That's us! I know as J increases her vocabulary, she will outgrow this behavior. My pediatrician is right again...watch, but don't call attention to it. Obviously, if her picking was leading to sores or rashes, I would need to treat it differently. Another reasont to treat the condition seriously, if she didn't have an obvious speech delay and I thought there may be another underlying anxiety. Both of these situations would require professional help.
In adults, skin picking can have serious physical consequences. Sores can stay open and lead to infection and future scarring. Adults with any form of clinically relevant OCD will require mental health treatment to find the underlying stress or anxiety causing the compulsive behavior.
That's not us, but I don't want anything to happen to this face!