A clinical comparison of pathologic skin picking and obsessive-compulsive disorder

Jon E. Grant, Brian L. Odlaug, Suck W Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: It has been hypothesized that pathologic skin picking (PSP) shares many of the same biological and phenomenological characteristics as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This study sought to examine the clinical similarities between PSP and OCD. Method: Demographic and clinical characteristic data were examined in a treatment-seeking sample of 53 PSP (mean age, 34.2 ± 13.1 years; 86.8% female) and 51 OCD (mean age, 36.5 ± 11.7 years; 35.3% female) subjects. Psychiatric comorbidity and family history data were also obtained. Results: The PSP subjects were more likely to be female (P < .001), report higher rates of co-occurring compulsive nail biting (P < .001), and have a first-degree relative with a grooming disorder (P < .001). The OCD subjects spent significantly more time on their thoughts and behaviors (P < .001) and were more likely to have co-occurring body dysmorphic disorder (P = .001). Conclusion: Although PSP and OCD share some clinical similarities, important differences exist and cast doubt on the conceptualization of PSP as simply a variant of OCD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-352
Number of pages6
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by a Career Development Award by the National Institute of Mental Health (JEG-K23 MH069754-01A1). Dr Grant has received research grants from Forest Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline. Mr Odlaug and Dr Kim report no conflicts of interest.


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