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Original Research

A Double-Blind Trial of Fluoxetine in Pathologic Skin Picking

Daphne Simeon, Dan J. Stein, Shira Gross, Nazrul Islam, James Schmeidler, and Eric Hollander

Published: August 15, 1997

Article Abstract

Background: Our objective was to determine the efficacy of fluoxetine in the treatment of pathologic skin picking in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel trial.

Method: Twenty-one adults with chronic pathologic skin picking agreed to participate and received 10 weeks of placebo or fluoxetine with a flexible dosing schedule up to 80 mg/day. Three skin-picking measures were employed: the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement (CGI-I) scale, the Skin Picking Treatment Scale (SPTS), and a visual analog scale of self-rated change (VAS). In addition, depression, anxiety, and obsessions-compulsions were rated using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D), the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A), the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) for the duration of the study.

Results: Seventeen subjects (6 treated with fluoxetine and 11 treated with placebo) completed the trial, at a mean fluoxetine dose of 55 mg/day. Fluoxetine was significantly superior to placebo in the treatment of skin picking according to two of the three measures for the completer analysis and to one of the three measures for the intent-to-treat analysis. Neither baseline level nor change in depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms was significantly related to change in skin picking.

Conclusion: This first controlled trial of the treatment of pathologic skin picking suggests that fluoxetine may be of therapeutic benefit. Larger controlled studies are warranted.

Volume: 58

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