Skin picking and sleep disturbances: relationship to anxiety and need for research.Depress Anxiety. 2003; 18(4):228-32.DA
Pathological excoriation (PE) or skin picking is seen in nearly 2% of patients attending dermatology clinics and is often associated with anxiety, stress and frequent help-seeking behaviors. While anxiety and stress are thought to cause poor sleep in the general population, not all anxious people, even those with disabling anxiety disorders, necessarily suffer from insomnia or other sleep problems. The relationship between anxiety symptoms and poor sleep, therefore, remains unclear and sleep quality in PE is unknown. We examined the sleep quality and levels of anxiety in dermatological patients with PE. Dermatological patients with (n = 10) and without (n = 10) PE and healthy controls (n = 10) were assessed on standardized and validated measures of subjective sleep quality [Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)], anxiety (Spielberger State and Trait Anxiety Inventory; modified Zung Anxiety Scale), stress (Perceived Stress Scale) and work and social disability [Sheehan Disability Inventory subscale (SDI-4)]. Patients with dermatological complaints as a group reported poorer sleep quality, higher scores on Spielberger State and Zung anxiety, perceived stress, and SDI-4. Among both groups of dermatological patients, only the PE group had significantly poor sleep, high anxiety, and perceived stress compared to healthy controls. In the dermatological patients with PE, PSQI-global scores were significantly positively correlated to Spielberger State and Zung Anxiety scores. Dermatological patients with PE are more anxious and have poorer subjective sleep compared to dermatological patients without PE and healthy. Future research is needed to elucidate these relationship factors and to develop new behavioral and drug treatments for the management of PE.