Andrea Pozza Nicoletta Giaquinta Davide Dèttore

Impulsivity and Alexithymia in Skin Picking subtypes: An Italian study in a large nonclinical sample

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Recent studies identified three subtypes of Skin Picking (SP): «Focused» (picking behaviours engaged in response to negative emotions), «Automatic», engaged while the individual is unaware, and «Mixed», which consists of characteristics of both conditions. SP is still understudied in Italy. International research did not investigate the role of Alexithymia and Impulsivity, which could suggest the need for different therapeutic interventions for SP subtypes. The current study examined the predictive role of impulsivity and Alexithymia on SP subtypes in a large non-clinical sample. 425 participants from the general population completed the Milwaukee Inventory for the Dimensions of Adult Skin Picking (MIDAS), Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS-11) and Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20). Higher scores on BIS-11 (b = .17, t = 5.33, p < .001) and BDI-II (b = .09, t = 2.62, p < .01) predicted higher scores on MIDAS Automatic. Higher scores on BDI-II (b = .08, t = 3.36, p < .01), BIS-11 (b = .08, t = 3.64, p < .001) and TAS-20 Difficulties Identifying Feelings (b = .10, t = 2.51, p < .05) predicted higher scores on MIDAS Focused. Higher scores on BDI-II (b = .06, t = 2.50, p < .05), BIS-11 (b = .08, t = 3.73, p < .001) and TAS-20 Difficulties Identifying Feelings (b = .08, t = 1.97, p < .05) predicted higher scores on MIDAS Mixed. Findings supported the Emotion Dysregulation Hypothesis suggesting that SP behaviours could be a coping strategy for negative emotions and disconfirming the hypothesized specificity of Impulsivity for the Focused subtype. Difficulty Identifying Feelings could be specific for the Focused and Mixed subtypes. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.


  • Skin Picking
  • Impulsivity
  • Alexithymia
  • Compulsive Excoriation Disorder


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