Dangerous skin picking: Cocaine abuse
Are you surprised that the dangerous skin picking is promoted by stimulants? The use of crack cocaine is becoming the order of the day and this is not doing any good to our skin texture. Speaking to the experts at AWAREmed health and wellness resource center under the leadership of doctor Dalal Akoury MD it is evident that stimulant-induced skin picking is a compulsive foraging response CICF (‘cocaine-induced compulsive foraging’) but the compulsion to skin pick has also been called psychogenic excoriation, delusional parasitosis, self-inflicted dermatoses, derma till mania, formication, or hypoesthesia; which is quite surprising considering that there has been so little research on the subject.
Dangerous skin picking: Characteristics of skin picking
Features of skin picking include excessive scratching, picking, gouging, lancing, digging and squeezing of normal or slightly marred skin. Even though the whole body can be involved, commonly the most picked areas include; fingernails, face, lips, scalp, arms and legs. This is made possible because drugs like cocaine, methylphenidates, phenelzine amphetamine and anticholinergic often produce increased nerve activity tactile sensations like burning, tingling and crawling that can lead to skin picking. So while it is clearly a chemical reaction to the drugs you’re taking, it can be closely linked with psychological issues like extreme anxiety or childhood trauma.
Dangerous skin picking: So why do people skin pick differently?
Studies suggest that it’s a coping mechanism for dealing with emotional pain. Physical pain distracts the individual and can help to alleviate feelings of guilt through self-punishment. Many S-P’s (skin pickers) report increased levels of tension prior to skin picking and a sense of relief or satisfaction following the picking. Some experience an altered state of consciousness whilst picking resembling a dissocialized state. However, lack of pain during picking episodes may also be related to opioid dysregulation. We can see elevated levels of B-endorphin in S-Ps, because of pain, in this case through self-injurious behavior, leads to the release of B-endorphins, which in turn leads to the release of tension.
Dangerous skin picking: Crack cocaine
The fact is, cocaine increases the activity of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the automatic nervous system associated with pleasure which is important for reinforcement of behavior. However, for reasons we don’t have the space to go into, too much use of cocaine can lead to a lack of dopamine in your system, which in turn leads to mood and anxiety disorders. S-Ps suffers from one or more of these conditions:
- Bipolar disorder (manic depression)
- Body dysmorphic disorder (hated self-image).
- Dysthymia (depression tendencies)
- Eating disorders
- Kleptomania (compulsive stealing of objects) and
- Major depression
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Panic attacks
- Post-traumatic stress
- Trichotillomania (hair /eyelash/body hair pulling)
Besides the mention conditions, some studies have also established that more than half of the individuals with serious skin picking conditions also reported a history of body rocking, thumb sucking, knuckle cracking, cheek chewing and head banging. Alongside with all these, skin picking also causes a lot of anguish. The victim can feel embarrassed and this may lead to shame and even impaired social functioning. In some cases, people withdraw altogether from social activities while others may experience medical complications as a result of skin picking, like ulcers, infections, permanent discoloration, and scarring. Finally, too much scratching leads to open wounds and sores and when combined with injections, the infection can travel from the skin to the blood, causing serious illnesses like septicemia or endocarditis. And that should be an incentive for you to schedule an appointment with doctor Akoury for a more professional medical approach.
Dangerous skin picking: Cocaine abuse