Self-mutilation or dermatitis artefacta is a facet of a much broader spectrum of factitial disease. Three nonpsychotic patients with self-mutilation are presented in this article who were successfully treated with low dose olanzapine when all other modalities of therapy had failed, including trials with numerous antidepressants and antipsychotics.
The patients were simultaneously evaluated and treated by a dermatologist and a psychiatrist who run the psychodermatology or consultation-liaison clinic based at McMaster University. After dermatologic conditions had been excluded as a cause of the clinical findings, olanzapine was prescribed on a trial basis due to its low risk of parkinsonian side-effects and its antihistaminic properties.
The excellent clinical response of the patients can be attributed to the low side-effect profile of the drug but also to the anti-impulsive effect which stems not only from antihistaminic properties but also from its anti-dopamine and serotonin-blocking action.