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Woman Nearly Lost Leg After Skin-Picking Habit Triggered Deadly Infection, Now She's Spreading Awareness

Woman Nearly Lost Leg After Skin-Picking Habit Triggered Deadly Infection, Now She's Spreading Awareness

Dermatillomania is a disorder that causes a person to repeatedly pick, squeeze and even bite at their skin.

Lauren McKeaney, 35, from Chicago has a condition you may not have heard of. The psychological disorder causes her to constantly pick at her skin. One time it got so bad that she nearly ended up losing a leg! Dermatillomania is a type of obsessive compulsive-related disorder (OCD) that causes a person to repeatedly pick, squeeze and even bite at their skin.



 

Lauren contracted methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on her inner thigh in 2014 and that changed her life. The mental health advocate told Truly, “My first memories of dealing with dermatillomania - I must have been around five years old. Seeing my skin kind of polka-dotted and seeing these sores all over, no one else looked like me." Later she realised that her " condition was at its worst in 2014. Right on my inner thigh, I contracted the life-taking bacteria MRSA. My right leg was just so swollen and infected, and the doctors had to come and talk to me about potentially losing my leg. I felt the lowest I had felt but it was there that I actually heard someone say, ‘it looks like she has dermatillomania’.” 



 

Thankfully, Lauren made a full recovery and has since founded the nonprofit 'Picking Me' to support the dermatillomania community and spread awareness about the condition. The organization is “dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring acceptance about dermatillomania for sufferers, supporters, and educational communities alike”. [This disease is] misunderstood, underreported, and under-diagnosed, and it lacks medical studies, research, and funding for treatment. We aim to change the connotation of the word ‘pick’ to help patients and parents understand these behaviors are not their fault and to educate the medical world on the dire advocacy this skin picking disorder needs as it affects three percent of the global population.”



 

According to The Daily Mail, McKeaney began sharing her story online in 2018, and after speaking to others who were suffering from the same condition. She decided it was time to help and support others just like her. She wrote on her non-profit Picking Me website: In 2014, I was hospitalized from picking an area into an abscess for the 6th time except on this visit I contracted the life-taking bacteria MRSA and almost lost my right leg. After having 8 inches of my inner thigh removed, a vacuum placed inside that I wore like a purse 24/7, and put on a walker and into months of physical therapy, I could no longer silently suffer. And in an innocent stranger’s questioning of what had happened to my leg one day, I experienced a new compulsion- to share the truth. And I haven’t shut up since.



 

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