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Can habit reversal be used for other skin conditions?

author/source: DrB

Yes, habit reversal can be a successful treatment for other skin conditions where there is scratching, rubbing and picking - and biting -  of the skin
. Here are some:

  • Acne excoriée : where acne is complicated by habitual skin picking
  • Trichotillomania : hair pulling
  • Onychophagia : nail biting
  • Psychogenic excoriation : compulsive skin picking, also called dermotillomania
  • Habit tic nail dystrophy : caused by habitual nail rubbing, and sometimes stress related - see illustration:


In all the above there is little or no itch involved.

In some other conditions habit reversal may be helpful too, even though with these itch is usually very much part of the condition.

Here are some:

  • Lichen simplex : itchy skin thickened by scratching
  • Pruritus ani : troublesome itch around the anus
  • Nodular prurigo : scattered very itchy skin nodules
  • Excoriated prurigo : scattered very itchy excoriations

Depending on each case, habit reversal may need to be combined with other treatments, as in atopic eczema. Increasingly it is a treatment offered by nurse practitioners.