Use of Topiramate in Skin-Picking Disorder: A Pilot Study

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Objective: Repetitive skin picking that culminates in skin lesions and excoriations has a fairly common prevalence and causes clinically significant distress. Myriads of agents have been used to treat the condition with no convincing results.

Methods: Ten patients (8 women and 2 men) with skin-picking disorder (per DSM-5 criteria) were enrolled in the study. The study was conducted from December 1, 2013, to December 29, 2014. The patients were treated with 12-week open-label topiramate in a titrating-upward dose (25–200 mg/d). Different measures to evaluate the efficacy of topiramate included subjective and objective assessment, photographs, the Skin Picking Scale modified after the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (SPS-Y-BOCS), the Skin Picking Impact Scale, the Clinical Global Impressions–Improvement (CGI-I) and CGI-Severity scales, and the Beck Anxiety Inventory and Beck Depression Inventory.

Results: Topiramate improved time spent skin picking from 85 minutes to 30 minutes per day. Seven patients (70%) were very much improved (n = 4) and much improved (n = 30) on the CGI-I. The scores on the Skin Picking Impact Scale and SPS-Y-BOCS also improved. The mean time to respond to topiramate was about 8 to 10 weeks. Anxiety and depression symptoms improved after reduction in skin-picking symptoms (the Beck Anxiety Inventory score improved from a mean of 38.8 to 13.8 and the Beck Depression Inventory score from 28.9 to 10.1).

Conclusions: Topiramate appears to be a promising agent in the treatment of skin-picking symptoms. Double-blind controlled trials are needed to further evaluate the safety and efficacy of topiramate in larger population samples.

Trial Registration: ISRCTN registry identifier: ISRCTN15791118

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2017;19(1):16m01961