Digital Strategies for Patients With Chronic Dermatosis With Pruritus / Skin Picking Disorder

  • End date
    Feb 2, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre
Updated on 2 September 2021


Almost 35% of patients treated to dermatosis have some psychiatric disorder. The aim of this study is to evaluate the prevalence and severity of skin picking disorder and other dermatosis, and also test the efficacy of an online-delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy to improve skin picking disorder severity.


The interface between dermatology and psychiatry represents a major challenge for the management of chronic itchy pathologies. Dermatology requires adherence to chronic treatments that must be incorporated as changes in habit. In addition, patients with chronic pruritic dermatoses often develop a scratching habit that often leads to the development of dermatillomania, requiring psychiatric intervention. In general, among the patients who seek the dermatologist, 33% complain of psychiatric symptoms. On the other hand, patients with psychiatric conditions have a higher prevalence of dermatoses when compared to the healthy population, with anxiety, depression and psychosis being situations that can induce or worsen dermatological conditions. Despite the important interface between dermatology and psychiatry, there is still a gap in the literature about the best way to diagnose and treat these patients affected by psychodermatosis, and also a lack of professionals' knowledge about this theme. One study addressed the quality of the treatments currently offered for skin picking, also known as dermatillomania, finding that only 53% of patients report having received the correct diagnosis of their pathology, and after the treatment offered, 54.7% of individuals reported that their clinical condition was unchanged or worse, and only 11% of patients reported feeling better with the treatment performed. When asked about the training of professionals, 85% of patients reported that the professional did not seem to have knowledge about his clinical condition.

The current world moment, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeps these patients away from possible interventions that could bring relief to the situation, either for fear of contamination, difficulties in displacement or even a temporary reduction in vacancies for care. The great and just effort of the Health Systems to face the pandemic can, on the other hand, impact the offer of assistance to chronic dermatological diseases. Around the world, telemedicine and other distance health care protocols have been used in an attempt to assist patients. But not all carriers of these chronic diseases are part of health systems. It is also known that during the COVID pandemic19, dermatoses frequently associated with dermatillomania are still the most common causes of consultations with dermatologists, such as acne and eczema. Changes in routine, especially food and physical activity, but also in certain habits, such as frequent hand hygiene and the use of astringent substances, such as alcohol gel, worsen or trigger inflammatory conditions. Still, the frequent use of masks induces the appearance of pruritus, which can increase the severity of already existing dermatoses and, also, lead to the misuse of props.

Thus, the investigators propose the development of an electronic website with educational strategies and self-applicable tools for cognitive behavioral therapy to patients with dermatoses who have pruritus or symptoms on the skin with the potential to develop or even with the diagnosis of skin picking. The website proposed here aims to help patients with chronic dermatoses seeking both the prevention and treatment of possible complications. This set of Internet pages aims to provide educational material, strategies to increase adherence to treatment and interventions with cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques, facilitating patients' autonomy in caring for their skin disorders, especially in times as troubled as the current one.

Condition Acne Vulgaris, Dermatosis, Skin Condition, Congenital Skin Diseases, Acne, Skin Conditions, skin disorder, skin disease, skin disorders, dermatological disease, disease skin, skin diseases, dermatological diseases, dermatoses, compulsive skin picking, acnes
Treatment Internet-based Cognitive-behavioral therapy, Quality of life improving intervention
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04731389
SponsorHospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre
Last Modified on2 September 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Age from 18 years
Internet access
Diagnosis of Skin Picking (dermatillomania)
Patients may be diagnosed or not with primary dermatoses, such as acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and rosacea

Exclusion Criteria

Acute psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder in acute episode, psychoactive substance use disorder (except tobacco), severe depressive episode or suicidal ideation
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