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dermatillomania-compulsive skin picking, anyone?

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 
I have been doing this for as long as I can remember, I HATE having scabs. I know it's bad and I feel totally guilty and embarassed afterwards, but I don't even realize I'm doing it sometimes. If I do realize it, I cannot stop myself. Mom used to always say "stop picking" when she saw me doing it, as if that was a helpful tidbit of advice. It's mostly on my face and I have to get that heavy duty concealer to cover up the pea sized red spots. :

I've been doing this for decades and wish I could stop. I didn't even know there was a name for it, until...DD#2 started picking, she is 3. She will not leave a scab, blister, bug bite alone. I don't want her to continue this and suffer the lifelong anxiety that goes with it (I sometimes will cancel plans and not leave the house if my face is too bad). It just breaks my heart! I don't know if she does it because she sees me do it, or if it's genetic or something. Anyone that can relate????
post #2 of 66
My boyfriend can spend HOURS "picking" his face. He will squeeze anything like it's a zit - a new freckle, ingrown hairs, blackheads, bug bites. It drives me off the wall. He doesn't understand or won't understand that he skin looks like it does because he never gives it a chance to heal over completely. He doesn't just squeeze things, he'll squeeze them so hard that it'll bleed and slice off the top layer of skin.

I don't know if it's a compulsion or habit or what, but no matter what I do he won't stop. I definately think that things like this can be learned in little ones though.

Sorry I'm no help, but just wanted to offer some support and let you know that you're not alone.
post #3 of 66
Thread Starter 
He doesn't understand or won't understand that he skin looks like it does because he never gives it a chance to heal over completely.
I can totally relate. I'm sure he does understand this completely, he just can't help himself.
post #4 of 66
It actually is a real disorder. It is not in the statistics manual yet but it is in with the OCD category. Many people who do the compulsive skin picking suffer with OCD as well. Some therapy might be able to help as there could be an underlying issue to deal with.
post #5 of 66
Awww, isn't it awful? My sister and I both do it and find that it's worse when we're stressed out. It's almost like going into some zone or trance when doing it. A friend and fellow picker showed me a website (www.stoppicking.com) that claims to help. Cognitive behavioral therapy should be very helpful - I'm wondering if that's what the website uses. Anyway, you're totally not the only one with this issue, and it most likely does have a genetic component.

Maybe the most helpful thing for DD would be to distract her and not call too much attention to it? I know that it can become an unconscious habit so if you can curtail it early on it won't be so problematic for her. Good luck to both of you and let us know if you find something that works/helps (cause you know we need it, too!).
post #6 of 66
Thread Starter 
thanks, perl! it's nice to know I'm not the only one. Yes, stress makes it worse. I also find I pick more when I'm deep in thought, I don't know why. Yes, it's totally a trance like thing. I've even picked in my sleep! I'll check out the website. With DD, she brings attention to it. She comes up and tells me "I got it" or I see her picking and ask her to leave it be, she tells me she doesn't like it. I'm trying to explain to her that scabs need to be there to heal, and they will go away faster if she leaves them alone. I also put bandaids and neosporin on her scabs so they are less tempting. I'm hoping to appeal to her 3 year old logic before she gets "addicted" to picking. (It worked with food, she opts not to eat "junk" so she can have more healthy options to make her body feel good.)

I'm looking for a *cure* but the things I have found that help: putting neosporin on scabs, it helps them heal faster, but it also makes them greasy, so they are hard to pick at. Gooey lip glosses, for the same reason (i'm a lip picker too, but only in the winter months, it's a seasonal sport! ). Avoiding mirrors except to get ready and brush my teeth, wash my face. I've tried cutting my nails very short, but I find a way to use them anyway and having no nails makes is hard for me to type. My nails are usually fairly long but if I get acrylic put on them (at a salon), they are so thick, it's hard to pick with them. This is an expensive option, I rarely use it, as money is tight, but it's nice if you need a clear face for special occasions, like a wedding.
post #7 of 66
Yes, turning off the bathroom lights so I can't look in the mirror closely has helped me, too! And you know what's weird about the nails thing? Usually if I cut my nails in the morning, I will be more inclined to pick at my face at night. It's very strange. There's not a direct correlation that I can see but maybe I tend to cut my nails when I'm a little more stressed or something, too.

A seasonal sport - - I love it! You're too funny!
post #8 of 66
I think that I have this. A mild case, though. I do it mostly when I am tired or stressed. I pick at every slight imperfection in my skin. Funnily enough, I never used to do this with my face (with acne-I never really broke out), but I have started to lately...
post #9 of 66
Wow, I'm so suprised that this is a real thing and not just me being weird. My mom's been saying STOP PICKING! for ages and it just makes it embarrassing. I've been picking since 3rd grade when homework started getting hard (well, not really hard, just long and tedious). Then I discovered my dad's kneedable eraser. It didn't help me concentrate (it's like very challenging playdough) but I didn't pick when I had it in my hand. I still pick and can't help myself at all but if someone reminds me to go get the clay/silly putty/playdough it helps. I like silly putty best because when it get's old it get's hairs and dirt in it that you can pick out (I'm so pathetic ). It's definately worth a try for your daughter.
post #10 of 66
And here I thought I was alone with this! My mom still reminds me to stop picking and I'm close to thirty! I've always done it, as long as anyone can remember. Today I saw my four year old picking and asked him what he was picking at. He said he had "yuckies" on his skin and needed to get them off.

I suggested that he wash the yuckies off with a wet cloth and that seemed to work tonight. I'll have to let everyone know how to deal with that for the moment because he's tense enough as it is.

I never knew this was a real disorder before, we always thought it was just one of my little quirks. I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one with this issue.
post #11 of 66
I do this too!!! I had really severe OCD as a child, and when I hit puberty (which I hit late, like 16) it mostly went away. The only thing that really stuck around was the dadgum picking. I pick my scalp, my fingers, and now my face. I don't want to do it, I understand it scars, but I just can't seem to stop it. For now I just kind of accept that it's not something I can fix right now, and try to minimize the damage. It didn't bother me too much till I started picking my face a few years ago. Cause that damage shows. I hate that. My kid bites her nails and toe nails (yes, I know it's a bit revolting, but I think it's funny too), but aside from that she doesn't pick skin. I try not to pick in front of her cause I don't want her to learn it if it's something that can be learned.
post #12 of 66
My mother picks at her face, arms, neck... I do it and dd does it.

I have something funny/gross to add... I have a friend who is a therapist and she has an adult client who will come into session and pick the skin and toenails from her feet and eat it while they are talking! Yuck!
post #13 of 66
i'm here too...

s: to everyone going thru this..for me it's a vicious cycle..i pick cuz i'm stressed and then get even more stressed about my picking and on and on

for me it's my cuticles...i'll pick and pick till they bleed b4 i stop...not on purpose butg something just drives me to keep doing it cuz it gets on my nerves (ie. dry skin, jagged etc)

my dd (age 3 ) has started to do it too , saying she just has to get it cuz it's 'bothering her'

has anyone stopped? how? i've tried mostly everything I can think o\f....except hypnosis which I plan to try soon

post #14 of 66
I read all your messages and it is so weird. Most of it I could have written myself? I've been picking since I can remember. First ears, nose, scabs, insect bites, etc. I remember as a child it was like christmas to be able to pick at a scab! My sister pulls her hair out. I think I'm better of then her. I at least had the guts to tell my boy friend when it became serious. Lucky for me he hasn't left yet and we're now married. But it still freaks him out from time to time. Don't want to wear short sleeve or strappy tops. Don't want to swim or go to the beach with other people. The blood spots on my clothes are like constant reminders. My husband does not believe me when I tell him I constantly itch. I can feel my skin! Does anyone know what I mean? I can feel a single hair in my shirt on my skin. When I take that hair out I can see the realitation in my husbands eyes, temporarily. My sister says she can feel her hair. We are both very artistic and bboth left handed. Anyone else artistic or left handed? I sometimes wonder if it is not that we are more sensitive? Let me know what you think!
post #15 of 66
I have found certain foods seem to worsen the problem. Caffiene and sugar for one is a big no-no! Alcohol seems to enhance it as well. I've even found if there is a lot of preservatives in food or salt!-Same problem. So eat healthy! Stay out of hot spots- bathroom, mirrors, in my case, alone in bed, etc. What helps a little bit for me is put a wall clock in your bathroom. Check the time when you go in, give yourself just enough time to do what you need to do, constantly check the time. Also keep the radio on constantly. So that your mind does not wonder too much. I sometimes even sleep with it on, the volume so low that you have to consentrate hearing it. This by the way I've found to be very helpful with insomnia as well!
Also if I've really slipped which usually follows by incredible itching. I think it's partly due to clothing rubbing the scabs. I rub my whole body with olive oil. It softens the scabs, relieves dry skin and is also very relaxing. Use olive oil, because it is clean. No alcohol, fragrance or synthetics in. Don't use soap everytime you wash. It strips the bodies natural oils. I hope some of this is helpful. It hasn't cured me, but it has made a small difference. That's what gets me through the day sometimes!
post #16 of 66
I pick my lips obsessively if they are at all dry or peeling. I can't stand it. My husband scolds me for it all the time so then I just hide it.

One thing I've found that helps is that I can't/don't want to do it when I have chapstick on, so my current behavioral therapy (which is funny because I'm a behavioral therapist for kids with autism) is to keep a stick of chapstick in all of my bags so that I never have an excuse not to use it. Then when I catch myself starting to pick, I reach in whatever bag I have and use the chapstick.

I used to chew the skin off the inside of my cheeks and when I quit doing that, I think this was a replacement behavior. But now that I've got the chapstick thing going, I haven't started any other self-injurious tic. Yay!
post #17 of 66

"feeling the hair"

There is a link to compulsive skin picking and sensory integration. Many of us are tactile defensive in some way. There are great ways to help, I like the eraser silly puddy one. It's actually recommended by O.T.s. Having something else to center on is good, the balms and lotions and anything to sooth. My skin gets so dry in the cold I can't leave it alone and end up with painful cracked fingers, lips and hands.
post #18 of 66
I have been reading everything here and it makes me so sad. I am 35 years old and I definitely have CSP. I pick me face terribly and try to do damage control with make-up. I become so embarrassed when I see pictures of myself or have to go to a function with others. I get so jealous of women with clear skin. I do have acne, but I am sure I worsen it because I pick at any flaw to my skin. I have spots on my face almost all the time. I do it when I don;t even realize it.
Besides that, my back is a mess of scars. I still pick there also... and I get sad when summer comes around because I can't wear backless anything.
I keep telling myself to just stop...
I noticed my 4 year old picking her upper lip. She does it constantly until it bleeds. I tell her to stop, but I know she can't. My poor kid is just like me. I am too embarrassed to go to the dentist sometimes because they are all there looking at your face with those bright lights.
Can anyone sympathize? What the heck can I do?
post #19 of 66
I do a similar thing. I have always pulled any dry skin around my cuticles until they bleed sometimes. I have heard it can be OCD and is also found in peopl who are perfectionists.

They definitely describes me. I am a perfectionists and find that I do it more when something like a test comes up or I am upset. Wehn something is overwhelming my mind. i guess it is like biting nails and such. I have heard that therapy is an option.
post #20 of 66
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