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The disorder can be physically and mentally damaging, but it is widely misunderstood – and underreported by embarrassed patients

For Connor, an overwhelming desire to get to the nearest mirror is one of the first signs. “Usually, I would have already begun picking or scratching other parts on my body if I can’t control the urge,” he says. Connor, like many others, lives with compulsive skin picking: an irresistible urge to pick at or scratch one’s skin that can have disastrous effects on body and mind.

“When I begin picking, I completely zone out,” he says. The aftermath of a session can last for up to 45 minutes, the result not only of the sore, red skin on his face, but also the rush of “self-loathing and hatred” at what he has done to his appearance.

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