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What is Dermatillomania?

Dermatillomania often begins with existing scabs or rashes on skin.
People with dermatillomania sometimes say picking at ingrown hairs relieves tension.
Dermatillomania frequently involves self-injury, because people will often pick at their scabs.
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Sometimes referred to as compulsive skin picking, dermatillomania is marked by the overwhelming compulsion to pick at one's own skin. Along with trichotillomania, or compulsive hair pulling, and onychophagia, or nail-biting, dermatillomania falls into a category of impulse control disorders known as body focused repetitive behaviors. Frequently, the urge to pick is so strong that sufferers may cause extensive damage to their skin.

People with dermatillomania frequently focus on pre-existing lesions on the skin, such as scabs, ingrown hairs, or insect bites. Because of this, they may cause further damage and scarring to the affected area. Many sufferers report that the picking seems to relieve stress or anxiety for the time being.

In some cases, individuals with dermatillomania may be compelled to create surfaces at which to pick. Because of this, dermatillomania is sometimes accompanied by self-injury, or the practice of deliberately inflicting physical harm on oneself. Patients will then pick the resulting scab or wound.

While research in the area of dermatillomania is limited, the condition has been strongly linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder. People who suffer from both dermatillomania and obsessive-compulsive disorder may be very obsessive and ritualistic in their skin-care routines. Patients also frequently report entering a "trance-like" state during episodes of picking.

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Many individuals with dermatillomania also suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a psychological disorder in which patients experience a distorted body image. People with BDD typically become obsessed with a particular flaw in their appearance, although this flaw is usually non-existant or highly exaggerated by the patient. In this case, patients may feel that picking off scabs and lesions will make them appear more normal.

While the compulsion to pick at one's own skin is extremely overwhelming, some sufferers have found successful treatment through cognitive-behavioral therapy. A psychological practice, cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on recognizing destructive thoughts and behavior, then re-teaching the brain to cope in less destructive ways. In many cases, cognitive-behavioral therapy is most effective when combined with the use of mood-stabilizing medications.

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Discuss this Article

anon944279
Post 119

I think I have this but I haven't read a comment exactly like mine. Ever since I was a little girl (I'm 16 now) I've picked my lips. I started out just compulsively picking the skin off my lips but a couple years ago I started chewing the inside of my mouth. I decided it wasn't good enough so I started picking at the inside of my mouth. Yes the inside. I really want to stop, but I can't.

anon941400
Post 118

I only just now found out that this is an actual condition with a name.

I have had to pick away at any scab. I can;t stand the texture of it. I must make it smooth.

For as long as I can remember, there has always been at least one area I pick at, but it usually changes every year or so.

Now both of my arms look as if I have been burned, and I have been in the hospital twice for staph, the first time caused by picking at a scab on my forehead, the last one for MRSA on my elbow. I am in danger of getting sick and dying from staph again due to this, yet I literally cannot stop picking if there is a scab with that texture until it's picked smooth. Even when the area actually burns afterwards and I feel ultra-guilty and paranoid, I guess this is just my luck is life. After all I've been through, what a stupid reason to die.

anon924407
Post 117

I'm 27, and I've been picking ever since I could remember early childhood. I will pick at nails, skin around the nails, sores, scabs, lips, and will usually do this for a little bit even after its been bleeding for a while. I'm not ashamed of it nor do I want to quit. I find it far too relaxing and yes, very trance-like and addicting.

anon354159
Post 116

If the picking becomes obsessive and harmful, then it's a disorder. Anything obsessive and harmful is a disorder. They're usually based on perfectly normal habits, like eating, that become uncontrollable. I feel that the need to pick scabs comes from the ape urge to groom. They do it to each other as a bonding exercise and it obviously feels very good. I think that's why picking one’s own scabs, and sometimes the need to pick others', is so satisfying.

Apes will always eat what they pick off. My mouth waters when I pick scabs so I see this as the ape need to eat them! We are apes after all. Don't be disturbed if your habit is mild. My dad was really laid-back and he used to love picking!

amypollick
Post 115

@anon352227: I didn't scratch myself like that, but I've been where you are. You may be overweight, but you're not ugly or spoiled.

When I was eight, I was tested for the gifted program at school. One of the questions was, "What is your worst trait?" In the spirit of being honest, I wrote, "I am fat." As though being a chubby kid was some kind of moral failure. But the culture we inhabit values physical beauty to the exclusion of all else. No one receives accolades like those who have either successfully lost weight, or keep their weight at a "normal" level.

Our culture currently views being overweight as a sign that someone is a failure as a human being, as a fundamentally flawed creature who really has no right to exist in that state. We must lose weight in order to be successful, worthy people who have proved they have a right to be on the earth. Otherwise, we are obviously lazy, gluttonous pigs who should not be in the world, using its resources. Can you tell I've been where you are? I've numbed my feelings with food, too.

Please do tell your parents that you have been picking and are starting to cut.

Being overweight does not make you a bad person. It does not make you a failure as a human being. You are obviously an intelligent young woman and as I also know from experience, balancing a good mind and one's weight is often daunting. People like us are aware and analytical. We fully understand what others are saying, what the culture is saying. Wouldn't we love people to see past the weight and appreciate the intelligence, the creativity, the unique perspectives we bring to a conversation?

I'm 45 and still overweight. I lost a good bit of weight a couple of years ago, but thyroid issues have made that much more difficult now. Still, I persevere. I've been married to a wonderful man for 17 years and I'm here to tell you that you can live a happy life. You are more than what the scale says. Don't allow a broken, immoral, shallow culture to dictate to you what kind of person you are. You're smarter than that. It can be an uphill battle. I won't lie to you. But we are *better* than that culture. We can create lives of lasting worth. Good luck and my prayers go with you.

anon352227
Post 114

I am 15 and I have been scratching my self for as long as I remember. Words cannot express how good it feels to know that this habit has a name and people that experience the same things I go through.

I have struggled with my weight for far too long. The most significant incidents where my weight has evidently put walls within my mind occurred when I was 6 or 7. For instance, my brother and I were talking about what we wanted most in the world. He wanted a Hot Wheels car that he could ride in. I wanted a pill that made me skinny.

I also experienced recurring dreams where people bullied me and my imagination created inanimate objects that constantly ridiculed me, saying what I was doing was not good enough and made me a terrible person. I told my mother I wanted to dye my hair like my best friend's hair, who was gorgeous and significantly smaller than I was.

I developed the habit of scratching my scabs. I would scar and it brought questions to the surface. I claimed that I did not know what happened, so my parents came to the conclusion that I scratched in my sleep and my skin scars easily. I still use this excuse.

I continued picking, especially the lovely insect bites. Whatever laceration that appeared on my skin stayed for months at a time. Over time, I started to chew my cheeks, pick my lips, and chew/pick my fingers and nails. Lately, I have begun creating places to pick. I have scratched my skin hard enough where it had no blood, but attempted to repair itself, a process I do not allow. Now I'm onto the razor.

I hate myself. I still have anxiety and I am very sad, a different state of being than depression, I have found. I eat too much because I am sad. I am sad because I eat too much. It doesn't help that I am a hormonal teenager who is going through the "dark ages". What does help is picking, but I am starting to scare myself. I'm going to talk to my parents soon.

Thank you for letting me rant. I don't like to talk to people about my problems. I have easy access to calories, therefore I am very fortunate. This feeling of fortune prevents me from telling my grievances, for I envision a spoiled, ugly, fat, teenage girl who is complaining about her life. Thank you.

anon351380
Post 113

I thought I was just doing this because of stress, but now I see I have a serious problem.

anon350374
Post 112

I'm at ease knowing there are other people who have similar habits. I've been noticing an increase in my picking within the past six months. I scratch my ears, scalp, nose, chest, and any scab that has surfaced. Ever since I got braces, I will tear apart my lips until blood comes gushing out.

I've scratched my scalp to the point where I'm losing large chunks of hair which is fabulous, since I already have fine hair.

I'm 20 years old and would love to stop this nasty habit. I feel like whenever I meet someone, all they see are the scabs inside my ears or a red, inflamed nose.

anon349390
Post 111

I am 58 years old and have just recently decided to get professional help with my picking disorder(s). I used to pick my nails, and acrylics stopped that, but my cuticles look bad after picking. I started peeling the skin off of my thumb about a six months ago. It's horrible, with lots of bandaids. I lie and say it's psoriasis or something.

I peel or chew my lips in the winter (when it's dry) and always chew the skin inside my mouth on my cheeks. I get a "thrill" out of peeling sunburned skin on anyone who will let me near them. I've been picking for 50 years. It's time for me to admit it and stop, with help.

anon348287
Post 110

I am 22 years old and have been obsessively picking scabs as long as I can remember. I can't stand how crusty they feel so I always scratch them away and rub the remaining skin and blood until it's perfectly smooth. I do it with any scab anywhere on my body. I also rip open pimple and make them into large cuts. I mostly do it when I am tired or stressed, and I always feel so relieved and so guilty when I finish ripping one open. I have tried to stop in the middle of picking one off but it makes my heart race and I start feeling really anxious and I have to finish, even though I feel guilty. I would love more support to stop!

anon345043
Post 109

I'm 16, and for as long as I can remember, I've been biting and picking at my hands and fingers, especially my thumbs. I press the skin around them underneath. It creates a really intense pain that feels good to me. It's addictive. Sometimes, I'll punch my hard shell guitar case to bruise my hands, then run them under piping hot water, then super cold water. I'm addicted to the pain?

anon326630
Post 108

Thanks everyone for being brave and posting.

I can recognize bits of my habits in every post: the trance; the pulling (it's my eyebrows); the picking scabs or scraping at skin until it bleeds; the endless loop; being distracted.

I do think my OCD of trichy and dermo began at a very stressful point in my life. However, many years have passed and I find myself still scratching my eyebrows and pulling them out when really stressed. I did pull the hair on my head, but not recently. I can't stand it. I look awful. I have big scabs instead of eyebrows.

I had the courage to tell doctor a few years ago. I had gone through CBT and hypnotherapy, etc to get over certain traumas but I was worried that this trichy and dermo were still there. I had more therapy, and drugs, but nothing works.

I am not stupid. I know it doesn't make sense as it's a kind of self-harm, but I'm happy. I find myself doing it when distracted or tired. No intervention or mindset works. My best help is my family. My husband and daughter know and with my permission tell me to 'stop picking' when they catch me. It is hard because I'm in the middle of scratching and want to continue. But I also need this support or I will continue.

I recently read that the dermo bit includes spending a long time in front of the mirror, over preening. I can pick at an eyebrow hair that's still under the skin until there is a big hole and lots of blood. No one probably would have noticed that little hair beginning to grow, but I get right close to the mirror and can't stop. I know I'm doing it, and will regret it, but I can't stop! I even think that if I had both hands chopped off I still would somehow manage!

I hate that I do it. I have no reason anymore. I love looking at other people's eyebrows and wish I could just let them grow. I feel bad for my husband that his wife has ugly eyebrows. I have accepted it's an OCD, but I wish I had the OCD that makes me clean my house!

Has anyone found anything that helps (and no, I don't do god, so don't try saying that). I've heard of people who want to stop snacking to lose weight. They say do something with your hands like knitting where your hand has to be clean.

I know I get tired and then that's a bad time, but I have to stay up late (by myself - lethal) to do work on the computer. I don't hate myself; it's just a brain loop thing. Surely with all this DNA knowledge now, some clever, caring scientist could find a way to break/rewire that brain loop!

anon323067
Post 107

Hi there. I am wondering if i fall into this category. I find it impossible not to squeeze my spots and blackheads and then squeeze what comes out between my nails. (Gross, I know.) This is probably stopping my acne from clearing up as I am 31!

Also, even weirder, I like to bend my eyelashes until they make a popping sensation on my fingertips, and I also like to put them under my nails to feel how sharp they are. This works best when I have mascara on but makes my nails look filthy and black where the mascara stains them! Thankfully, I only wear it on weekends. I am sure my eyelashes looked thinner after I started doing this when I was about 10.

I also like to run my nails down the bit of gum between my two front teeth in a line, and sometimes when I bite a sliver of nail off, I like to poke it in between my two front teeth to feel the sharpness. This does make the gum a bit sore sometimes. Am I mental? It's never been a big issue but I don't think it's that common or 'normal' (whatever this means!)

anon282245
Post 106

I'm actually glad to have found this site and reading everyone's posts has definitely made me not feel like a complete and total freak. I always think the first step to recovering from something or getting past it is to admit you have a problem in the first place.

I've been quite obsessive with my face, pimples and blackheads mainly, and the dead skin/scabs I will get once I have done the deed. Lately, it's been my nose and upper lip that has been suffering the most. I can't seem to control myself from picking at the non existent blackheads on my nose and upper lip. Well, they were existent at one stage until I never gave them a chance to come back with my constant picking and scrubbing of my nose area.

I know I'm doing damage, but I can't seem to stop. I plan on getting some minor laser surgery done to get rid of the broken capillaries I have managed to create around my nose and upper lip, but I refuse to even think of trying until I can fully beat the urge to pick or scrub like a crazy person. I think the acrylics sound like a good idea for stopping the picking and shall try that asap.

I was also thinking perhaps giving yourself limited time in the bathroom in front of mirrors will help prevent the urge to pick if you can't see it. Filling in all your daily and night time with activities so you don't have a chance to even think about picking at all, might be good. I've also found moisturizing over the dead skin or scabs can help you resist from picking at it while it softens the skin and makes the surface seem less rough then it was previously. Also avoid using any tools that you would normally use to help you remove scabs and dead skin such as tweezers and pins – and get your eyebrows done professionally if you can so you have no need for tweezers (gets them completely out of the equation).

You could also set an alarm on your phone for when you happen to be in the bathroom just to make sure you're only in there for a short time and not hours on end. Exercise is what I have found to be a great stress relief and great for anxiety. It lessens the urge and you actually feel good about yourself. These are all things I have started doing and plan to continue doing in the hope that it may help put everything back under some sort of control. Hope some of these things may help you guys out.

anon272860
Post 105

I'm 14 years old, autistic and I have dermatillomania. I take cognitive behavioral therapy once a week. I've been taking CBT for quite a few months now, and I recently started working on my skin and pimple picking problem.

I started out with exposure and response prevention, and it worked for a few days, but I went back to picking. My parents will tell me to just stop it, that I'm ruining my body, and so on. The problem for me is that even after getting help, though its easier to stop picking new points on my skin, I pick excessively at the scabs until they become scars, which really irritates my parents. But they just don't get it.

I didn't ask for this -- nobody does. I want to stop, but it's not easy. I hope that I'll eventually beat the habit, but right now, I'm not really sure. I'm going through grieving right now, so obviously, my stress levels are beyond reasonable. Picking can relieve the stress in the moment, but after, I just feel really guilty.

I honestly don't know if I'll get through it, but it helps to remind myself that it could be much worse. Still, I'll have to live with the scars, so I have to just hope that people will be understanding of the situation.

anon261889
Post 104

I never comment on stuff like this, but just wanted to say to post 72, I think, Allexisroxx, seriously try and get to your doctor if you can. Waiting until your older will just make you stress over it.

Just like, go after school one day and make an appointment and then pretend you have after school practice for something or other. I know, lying to your parents is bad, but this is your health here!

I've picked my thumbs for as long as I can remember and I never realised it had a name! I'm 18 and in the middle of stupid exams but I'm going to get myself to my doctor when they are over because I'm just tired of hiding away now. I need to sort out this problem!

So go to the doctor, mate! It can't do any harm.

anon259379
Post 103

For the last four years, I have had a problem with picking at my hands and feet. I also chew the insides of my cheeks. I can easily stop with my cheeks but it feels like that whenever I get into a really stressful situation (which is a lot), I can't stop myself. My hands and feet look horrible, but I can't stop.

If someone can help me I would like to know. I live in Kansas. My mom knows I do this, but she thinks I can stop and never do it again. I know I can't stop without help.

anon256462
Post 102

I've been picking and tweezing hairs from my legs since I was in the sixth or seventh grade. I remember squeezing ingrown/plugged hairs from the top of my thigh in the backseat of my parents car on a road trip back then and that was it. I would zone out in front of the computer and put my leg on the desk and tweeze away and pick at ingrown hairs or hairs caught beneath the surface of my leg with a push pin.

I still do this to this day. I keep a push pin hidden in my medicine cabinet and in the nightstand – tweezers, too. It is definitely a stress relief thing for me or a way to alleviate anxiety, anger, frustration, etc. My husband-to-be calls me out on it or will come in the room when I'm in my position next to the night stand and say, "are you picking again?" with a sigh. I don't think he makes the picking/anxiety connection or he doesn't really care to figure it out.

It helps me regulate my feelings. It is soothing. I dabbled in self-harm with a razor when I was in a very, very depressed state between my last semester of college, a bad romance and an intensive work schedule, and used the sensation of the pain I was inflicting as a release. I think this was just an extreme manifestation of the sensation I get from picking.

I'm also a nail biter and a zit squeezer. Fortunately, my skin is pretty clear these days but as an adolescent, I suffered from acne and could never let a blemish come and go on its own. I have never been a hair puller, with the exception of stray brows, but nothing out of the ordinary there.

I don't think I have a notable degree of OCD and, as for BDD, I don't think I have too delusional a view of how my body looks and I am very self confident in that regard. However, sometimes I feel like I don't actually know how I look. I see myself, but I don't see myself walking by, so how am I supposed tell what size I really am? I get caught in that thought loop from time to time.

I guess what I'm saying is, at the end of the day, some of us are just straight up pickers. Glad to know that I'm not alone in this.

anon256457
Post 101

I don't know how I got it, but I have a scab on my lower lip. I've had it for years. It never goes away because I can never leave it alone. It was originally on the right side, but that went away and it's on the left side now. It scabs over and if I don't have enough chapstick on it, it starts to puff up because I'm always keeping it wet with my tongue. (I guess water gets under the scab). Then it drives me insane and I have to get the whole scab off. If

I'm at work I don't because it may bleed and lips bleed bad (even though it isn't a bad cut). And at home, I have a sharpened toothpick to help get the rest of the scab off it need be. (A safety pin is too thin and too sharp). I wish I could leave it alone long enough so it heals. I'm 40. I've been dealing with this for problem six years now. Maybe longer. I've lost count.

headrubber
Post 100

I was just reading through all of this and I have a lot of the same issues. I am a severe nail bitter, as well as having this very bad head rubbing habit.

It's a strange sensation that I feel on my head. I want to say that it feels like an individual hair is being pulled, but only because that's the closest sensation I can put into words. Once I feel this sensation I cannot stop myself from rubbing that area. Not scratching or pulling, but rubbing with the tips of my fingers until I feel/find and am able to remove these little white balls (for lack of a better description) from my head. I don't think it's dandruff since it is not flaky and would probably stay put until I brushed my hair and moved it or something.

This happens in a few core areas, mainly my hair line around my face or in my crown. The downside is that I have been doing this for as long as I can remember and have started to give myself bald spots. I have tried head and shoulders, T-gel and all that stuff. It actually seems to make the sensation worse!

Anyway, this was mainly to vent but also see if anyone has had any luck with their head rubbing issues and if they were able to stop?

I am in therapy but it doesn't seem to help this addiction I have to rubbing my head. Even going bald doesn't stop me!

anon248903
Post 99

I'm 42 years old and been biting the skin around my nails until it bleeds for as long as I can remember. I can't stop and willpower doesn't work.

When I'm stressed it actually makes me feel calmer like a drug would, so better to bite and chew on the skin. I am embarrassed about my fingers and don't like people to see them.

anon246043
Post 98

Has anyone figured out how to stop without going to the doctor? Please, I'm only 14! I can't keep doing this all my life!

anon241754
Post 97

I can't stop picking my lips. They have never been not ragged. When they're ragged, I pick at the ragged edges. I also pick my cuticles. I have small scabs on either sides of my thumbnails always.

The only thing that helps is acrylic nails. I can't get a good grip on the skin, and I pick as much as normal, but it's less effective. I can still use my teeth though. I pull at imperfections on my lower lip with my teeth, and don't realize I'm doing it till I bleed.

anon239596
Post 95

I get my eyebrows waxed regularly, but the hair above my left brow grows in really fast, really deep, and really dark, and if I can't get my brows waxed in time I will sit and stare into a mirror and dig out the three or four hairs that always bother me with tweezers. It's really bad because I can't stop until I've got it, even though I know it's not logical. It usually makes my skin bleed, then a scab forms, and then I feel like I have to pick at the scab. This causes a stupid little eyebrow hair to form into this big red wound and it tends not to heal for like a week. From years of doing this, now I have this stupid looking indented scar above one eyebrow and I hate it so much, but those stupid hairs keep growing back and I just can't help it. I feel like this is like a cross between Dermatillomania and Trichotillomania.

Also, I have this one really rough patch of skin on my right elbow that I constantly pick at and it's so bumpy and annoying. I feel like I have to scratch it until it's smooth, but that means a scab will form and I'll have to do it all over again.

Finally, I used to love (and hate) getting sunburns because I loved picking at the peeling skin all over my face, arms, back, and nose; it was just so satisfying! I wish I didn't do these things and I hate the picking, but it just feels so good emotionally at the time.

anon239263
Post 94

I had no idea this actually existed but I'm glad I do now. Since I was little, I've always had skin problems. It started off with these little hard balls of skin that form in my wrists and hands that I inherited from my mother and I would always pick and bite them out, which left little craters in my skin.

As I got older and I got really bad acne, I always picked at my pimples and popped them. Whenever I have a bump on my skin, I always pick at it, or if I get cut and it starts to heal, I pick at the scab. The skin on my nose is always peeling and sometimes I just sit there and peel it until my nose turns red. I'm constantly biting my lips and if I get a pimple on or near my lips, I pop it and it looks so gross and embarrassing.

I also have a scalp condition where my scalp dries out really fast and looks like I have scales and I'm always picking at it and scratching it. I also have ocd and I've never thought about it until now but I do enter a trance when picking and biting at my skin. My mother has been trying to get me to stop for years but I feel like I can't. I am better at not doing it as much though.

anon238516
Post 93

I do this thing where every once in a while, I have this urge to dig into the skin near my right and left index finger, with my thumbnail or just to apply specific pressure to the small area. It comes with a pain but it is a pain that feels good. It happens to me often, like every couple of months or so. So it is not like a constant thing.

However, when I do dig into it, I do go into a sort of trance like state, but I am fully aware of what is going on. I am just wondering if you guys on the site think I have this problem.

anon237721
Post 92

All I can say is wow! I thought I was the only weird one. I am so relieved to have found this site, and to know that we are not alone. I'll start off by saying I am 20 years old and I have been picking since as far back as I can remember. It didn't even occur to me until stumbling across this site, that a friend of mine from my early childhood had trichotillomania.. She had short, afro-like curls and would pick out the hair from back of her head until she had bald spots. I've had people ask me about the scars on my knees, and of course they would make jokes about it. Since I was little, the falling down getting boo-boos on my knees days, I've always picked my scabs. I don't like them there. They are rough and bumpy and ugly. Of course picking at them leaves scars (which strangely I find very attractive). I don't mind old scars since they are faded and barely noticeable. It's the newer scars that I hate myself for. They are pink, and visibly just there. I never think about it while I'm doing it (the trance we all experience); I just do it and later ask myself what in the heck is wrong with me. Picking scabs is honestly the least of my worries. I have bigger problems.

Since I was about 9 or 10 I've had this extremely bad habit of biting the inside of my lips and cheeks. I would do it when I was bored in class, nervous, anxious, hungry, or just because. I would not only bite until I was spitting blood, but I would chew so deep in one spot that one time I'm pretty sure I hit a nerve. My cheek was numb after that. It was by far my worst experience of chewing the inside of my mouth, and it took forever to heal. My grandma would always yell at me to stop when she saw me making the "I'm biting the inside of my mouth face". I never did listen to her. It was something she couldn't understand. As I'm sure we'd all agree, it isn't so simple to just stop. Especially once it's triggered in the brain, we have to do it until we are "satisfied". The open wounds in my mouth would last for a few days, and then I was healed. When it would go away, I thought of it as a fresh start. I can finally eat ketchup, and of course, I would always say I'll never do it again. I would tell myself that up until, once again, something triggered in my brain. Once it was triggered, I had to satisfy myself. I tried chewing gum to help distract myself, and it works sometimes. But like you know, sometimes you just got to do it! I think there is also enjoyment in the pain we feel.

Along with picking scabs and biting on the inside of my mouth, I also have a few other "fetishes". I am a compulsive pimple popper. I've been doing that since my early teen years. I would stare in the mirror for hours (in a trance), picking at anything that seemed to me like it shouldn't be there. A lot of times, I would pick at nothing. My dad, to this day, yells at me to stop when he sees me picking. He says that if I don't stop I'm going to have a crater face when I'm older. Again, telling me that doesn't make me want to stop.

I also developed this thing where I enjoyed picking other people's pimples. When I see a big, juicy white head looking at me, I want to pop it. My brother never let me pop any of his. This was an annoyance/problem in my last two relationships. They hated it. I did too. I said I wouldn't do it anymore, but still, I couldn't help it!

I also had this habit of picking at ingrown hairs in my pubic region. When I was in my mid teen years, it was a problem. Now, not so much. I still have scars from where I picked the hairs out. They are barely noticeable now, but when I would did do it, I was extremely self-conscious about it. It's gross! You can't make people understand. I don't even understand what we're doing, or why we're doing it. It's just one of those things that just is.

I've never been one to bite my nails. Ever. Unless one breaks and I don't have nail clippers handy. I do however, have a habit of biting the skin around my finger nails and I eat it. (Oh, and I eat my scabs too.) When my hands are dry, and the skin is hard, I have to bite it off.

Last New Year (when we were entering 2011) I made a list of resolutions. One of the few I was able to keep to, was to stop picking. I didn't stop completely, but I definitely don't pick as much as I used to. The thing that triggered me to really want to stop wasn't the ugly finger beds, red marks on my face, or sores in my mouth. It was when I was dating my ex-boyfriend and he looked at me one day and was like "What the bleep is that?!" while looking at my chest. All I could say was, I was picking. As if I'm not already self-conscious about it enough, him saying that made me feel like a total freakazoid. (He was one of the two I mentioned before who absolutely hated the fact that I was a popper and I would always try to pop his pimples. Sometimes he let me, while other times he would push me away. (Which didn't make me stop trying. It was looking at me, screaming at me for me to pop it and let it out.)

Like a lot of things, I think dermatillomania is all in our heads. It seems to me like most, if not all, cases started in our early childhood and gradually progressed/got worse with age. It's like cigarette smoking: you know you shouldn't do it but you do it anyway. It's a force of habit. If distracting yourself by doing something else doesn't help, seek medical help.

I don't think that I'm at a point where seeking medical help would be necessary. Like I said before, I've stopped picking for the most part. I find myself popping pimples (I used to pop pimples, blackheads, and pick at things I would "see" that were really nothing). I still bite/cut the skin around my nails from time to time, but my fingers are no longer bleeding and sensitive to the touch. I got my lip pierced in the beginning of this year, but I took it out before it was healed completely and I now have a little bump (scar) on the inside of my mouth where the ring used to be. I find myself annoyed with it and biting at it all the time. Biting at it and temporarily getting rid of it, leads me to biting the inside of my lips and cheeks. I think I'm going to have the bump/scar removed so hopefully one day it'll be a thing of the past.

anon236404
Post 91

Personally, I think there is a dopamine high we get when we successfully pick a scab, to be honest. It hurts a little, and it feels good a little, kind of like when you relieve yourself. Someone should hook us all up to a machine when we do it, in my opinion, to see if there is a chemical stimulus involved.

To say it relieves stress is probably not quite right. Picking relieves the stress of the stimulus that made me want to pick in the first place, but not other stress in general.

For me, it's also about texture. If I have dry or non-smooth skin anywhere, especially the creases around my fingernails, I know it's there and I unconsciously pick it. Even if it's on my face and I can't see in the mirror, it's like I know exactly where the skin 'hurts'. I used to bite my nails, but for the same reason. As long as I keep my nails filed smoothly around the edges, I can grow them fine, but if I fail in that or chip one, it'll be gone in a matter of minutes. I too go into a trance (it's almost like spacing out/daydreaming), many times to the point where it's like the side of my brain that talks is saying "hey, don't do that, snap out of it" and the other side says "uh uh, must keep going". I too, often cannot stop once I start picking, so my trick is to try and not to start to begin with. I use lots of moisturizers, gum to keep my mouth unconsciously active (against chewing finger skin), and doing my best to keep my acne under control (I'm almost 30, by the way. Got it late in life and have it still; not the easy kind, either.).

Does anyone here rub their eyebrows under their nails? I've been doing that since I was little, usually when I'm tired or deep in thought. I get a similar sensation to picking by doing that, but not as extreme. My only other 'compulsion' (it's not bad enough to be diagnosed) is an inability to wait to speak my mind, kind of like a 7 year old who really wants to tell their mother something. Traffic, waiting in line? No problem. Raising my hand in class? Forget it! If I don't spit it out then and there, the thought leaves me, so my coping mechanism as a child was to develop a tendency for blurting things out because it was stressful to lose my thought by the time the teacher got to me and no one ever taught me how to manage it. Maybe other pickers have this problem, maybe not, but I thought I'd share.

anon234259
Post 90

I pick at my lips and one small scab on my lower arm. I have been picking at my lips and nose as long as I have had a conscience. Luckily for me, unlike some people on this site, my lips just always look chapped and no one can see the small scab on my arm or the inside of my nose.

I really feel like it's worse than an addiction. Even when I consciously stop doing it, if I am stressed, I will do it in my sleep. I wake up with bloody fingers. I also pick at my fingernails, toenails, burnt skin (sunburn) and ingrown hairs.

I really would like to stop. I am a teacher and a few times I have picked at my lips during class while the kids are doing a test and of course sometimes you get what I call 'a bleeder' and it won't stop. It's so embarrassing. I have to walk around with a tissue on my lips and tell the kids 'i just bit my lip by mistake'. It's grosses me out, so I can imagine how it makes others feel.

Even when I manage to control the amount that I pick, once I get a sunburn and my skin starts to peel -- forget it.

I also feel that this relieves stress and I also go into a trance sometimes. I had never thought of it as a disorder, just a bad habit. Then I watched a posted video on facebook about a little girl with trichotillomania and I realized that what I do isn't just a habit; it's something else.

I also have a habit of following routines to the letter, not OCD like, but I do feel upset when routines are disrupted, especially exercise or diet routines. I think this website will be the first step in seeking treatment for this. Now that I know it can be treated, I will do something to get help. Thanks!

anon234218
Post 89

Okay, I thought my blackhead-squeezing obsession was a little extreme. I also have OCD. I hope that knowing that this is an actual thing can get me to quit. I think I may have severely injured the cartilage in my nose.

anon233745
Post 88

My upper arms, T-zone on face,upper legs, butt and a little on my back are full of red spots because I pick at them until they bleed. This started at age 16 or 17. I've been to the dermatologist and he told me to go on birth control pills. It helped a bit but whenever I get to the placebo week (not on the pill) I feel like picking much more. He gave me something else to put on but I don't think it helps. It just makes me want to pick even more, so right now I have three band aids on my face and right arm and I have exams so I'm very stressed, but at least I won't do any more damage since I've got band aids on my problem areas. But I don't want to be having band aids for the rest of my life.

It's like my hands have to find something to pick, so my hands go up and down my skin until they find a bump to smooth over and then the cycle starts again because of the "trance".

Why is this happening? What in my brain is making me pick and why does my skin have bumps and red areas in the first place? I also pick my nose and bite my nails. I'm really mad because I'm 20 and I'd feel so much better if I didn't have my skin to worry about.

I don't think it's anxiety because I took a pill for anxiety and it just made me feel worse. Maybe it's OCD, but I don't do anything else that is OCD, and I only started being like this in my teens when my hormones started acting up.

There has to be something we all have in common that makes us do this and we need to find a way to stop. Psychiatrists and therapists are not going to help and medication probably doesn't work either. My dermatologist doesn't seem to have a good answer except telling me not to pick, so what are we supposed to do? What is the answer?

anon232845
Post 87

I'll add my story, although I've only read maybe 60 percent of the comments here.

I'm 29, and I have compulsively picked since I was a child. I remember one day seeing a black freckle, and I scratched at it, and it came off. Somehow like it was an excess, an intrusion, unnecessary. Now I pick everything off, but I'm stressed completing a PhD at the moment.

To give some of you hope, you can overcome it. I did have a sore on my wrist which was just some small scab that I picked at for weeks or months. Eventually, with an enormous amount of willpower and effort, I let it alone for weeks and it healed over. I still have the scar, and I use it to remind myself that there is only one way the picking goes if I keep at it.

I think for me it's definitely a stress relief. I find facing some things particularly difficult and am prone to just wander off and pick as an avoidance. I've never really been good at sticking with things through the boredom or difficult times. I think there's a short-termism to it.

Part of it, though, is the sensation. I remember having a proper large (but shallow) scab on my knee as a boy, and I could pick around the edges without it bleeding, so I would. It let me feel again with that bit of skin that had been covered and insensitive for so long.

It's an incredible compulsion when you feel a scab or a blemish on otherwise smooth skin, and often (as is the way with newly-forming skin) it itches too. And it can seem like you're doing a good thing, purifying, clearing away the problems.

I find it helps to remember that when a sore is really bad, and the skin can't close over it, you wish you had some kind of protective cover for it so it didn't hurt. That cover is skin in the long term, and a scab in the short term. This is your body's ideal way to protect the tender new skin that it is creating, and every time you pick, even the tiniest bit, you're undoing your body's work, making it harder for it to do its job. And if you win and the thing stays open, that's a huge oozy horrible blemish, not just a little dry one.

My wife (who I have absent-mindedly picked a couple of times) gives me a look and threatens to put a plaster (band-aid) on it. I often agree.

I don't know if it's related, but I love having my back scratched; it's like a fiery bliss.

anon230071
Post 86

I have had this problem for as long as I can remember. I am constantly picking scabs and scratching certain parts of my skin to create scabs to pick. It's horrible but I just can't seem to stop!

I'm 27 now and getting married next year and my husband to be hates the fact I pick as I have scabs and scars on my arms, legs and back. Sometimes I'll even pick my face which is horrible!

I've tried to stop but I can't. If I pick a scab I can't stop until it's off, even if I know it will bleed and be sore. I'm actually quite glad it's a recognised thing and I'm not just gross!

anon222623
Post 84

I pick the skin off my feet. I can spend hours doing it without realising sometimes I pick so much off it actually hurts to walk and put certain shoes on.

I do my feet because they are always hidden and because lots of thick skin grows there. You can get so much skin of your feet, the heels, toes etc.

The amount just piles up to one side and I feel disgusted with myself when I've snapped out of it and have to throw my skin away.

I also pick off as much of my little toe nails as I can they are hideous. I used to pick the skin off my hands in school until my friends started noticing, and sometimes I purposely feel my scalp and elbows to see if there's a dry bit to start biking and when I'm out and about and can't pick, I bite my lip which makes people think I'm nervous all the time.

anon216731
Post 83

@anon215947: I always rip my pinkie toenails off. I have no idea why, but as soon they start growing a little bit, I just have to remove them. I know most of these things it's like "oh wow, I can't believe it's not just me", but I really cannot believe that it's not just me on this one.

anon215947
Post 82

I used to pick at my scabs uncontrollably when I was a child. After I had chicken pox, I apparently picked at my scabs until it caused two permanent boxcar scars on my face. I've always been embarrassed about them, but fortunately they're on my forehead, so I can somewhat hide them underneath bangs.

I also have the habit of tearing my pinkie toenail off. I have a small pinkie toenail and since about the age of 15, I've had the habit of picking and ripping it out until it bled. I would pick at the sides of the pinkie-nail, tearing it toward my cuticle then pulling the entire piece from the base and root of where the nail grows out from under the skin. It would sometimes cause blood to ooze and the pain would cause me to stay up all night. Yet, I couldn't wait for it to grow out so I could do it all over again. I don't think this is OCD, but just a bad self-injurious habit. I'm 30 now, I do it once every four months now and feel the compulsion is more contained than when I was younger.

I'm the kind who, when I get a bug bite, I wouldn't be able to leave it alone. I honestly don't think I have a deep psychological disorder, but perhaps I just don't have good self control.

jboucher84
Post 77

I'm 27 and I've been suffering from some sort of picking/self mutilation problem. I chew at the insides of my mouth, lips, bite my tongue, and pick and chew at my nails. I have had this going problem since I was probably 13 or so. I really don't know what triggers it, I just find myself doing it.

My biggest problem is biting my tongue. I start out just biting it then when I get a bump pop up I must start picking at it till its gone. I even go as far as picking the bumps I created off with nail clippers. Then its a process all over again until my tongue is bleeding and it's numb.

I don't know if its the rush of pain that relaxes me. It scares me sometimes that I'm going to go to far and cut my tongue off and bleeding to death. No one else knows I do this, I'm very good at keeping it discreet. It's just getting to be too much.

anon213366
Post 76

My son does this. He is 8. He has done this as long as I can remember. He doesn't cause the sores anymore. Although if he has a scab he has to pull it off. He says he hates the red/brown color of the scab against his white skin. He hates freckles too. He used to scratch when he was younger but now he is on Staterra for ADHD and it seemed to stop the scratching/anxiety. It isn't perfect, but much better. He is a great kid.

anon213116
Post 75

I'm 17 years old and I don't know if I have dermatillomania or just OCD, because I switch my habits often, but I always have about two habits that I do. I think the earliest I can remember doing something OCD was when I started to bite my nails and eat them. For the longest time, it was just my nails, but then I started to eat the skin around the nails too and it's gotten so bad to where I bleed, etc. Then, when I was around fifth grade, I scratched a beauty mark off on the way to school (I was walking) that I had on my face and I bleed so much that I was so embarrassed and couldn't go to school because I had blood all over my face and hands so I just hid in the bushes for eight hours. Then, I started to bite my toenails and the skin around my toenails, then under my foot which I experienced several "trances" where I would do it for at least 20 minutes at a time to where I couldn't bite any more off.

When I was in around seventh and eighth grade, I started to get acne and blackheads and that didn't help. I remember using a scrub and rubbing my face so hard to where it was completely red trying to get rid of all the pimples. I also tried to get rid of the blackheads when I was about 12 by using a needle and digging them out. One or two of them left a permanent scar on my face that lasted about four years before it started to really fade away. I also have always did this thing where I would make some weird noise with my mouth and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it and I remember getting teachers really angry as well as my mom. It can range from whistling all the time (but I can't help it and want to stop) to blinking my eyes a thousand times a minute and I can't help it and can't stop. More recently, I've seen little ingrown hairs (maybe 1-2) on my legs and I will pick at them until that are completely out and that will leave my whole legs destroyed. I did used to pick some of my eyebrows and eyelashes out as a kid, and still do it today as well as bite my nails, but I haven't gone crazy with it.

I've realized that the more I think about my obsessions, the harder it is for me to avoid them. If I focus on something else, then I will stop doing it or stop having the urge. I have tried to stop before with the nails, but I do it subconsciously, but if I think about it, then I start thinking about my other OCDs. I have recently (about one month) ago stopped biting my toenails and skin on my foot and I plan to stop all my other compulsions too. I really find myself to be one of the lucky ones after looking up how bad some other people have it. I'm just thankful that I've caught this early enough.

anon209349
Post 74

I’m a 22 year old female student, and have been picking since I was about 4 or 5 years old. I remember my mom always chastised me “Stop scratching!” She once taped each of my fingertips with band-aid, just to give a particularly nasty sore on my face time to heal.

When I started varsity, I found myself picking at every moment I had to myself. I would pick at my back and face whilst studying for an exam, and then (like most cases here) I fall into this trance, where twenty minutes later I find myself still reading the same sentence of study material and my fingers bloody. I disgust myself so much, especially when I look at the state of my fingers afterwards, stained with blood and scabs stuck under my nails (sorry, I know it’s disgusting). But I can’t stop. Sometimes I wake up at night, and discover I’d been picking in my sleep!

I’m paranoid about inviting people into my hostel room sometimes, as my bed sheets and clothes are dotted with blood stains after a picking episode. My back is so scarred, it’s painful. I haven’t really ever considered it a problem, but now that I think about it, it does affect aspects of my social interactions. I’m currently dreading summer, as cool clothing exposes some parts of my back, shoulders and upper neck, which look horrible! But I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in this!

anon202748
Post 73

I have always been told that this was just something weird I did, but after seeing the term dermatillomania in an article and looking it up, I realized here that I've been right all along when I told people that it had to be some kind of condition.

It started when I was 10 or 11. I used to have a habit of being unable to stand still. I would constantly rock back and forth on my heels, and for some reason, it made my mom absolutely crazy and she had uncharacteristically angry outbursts at me in public all the time telling me to stop. In response, I guess I got started as a way to stop rocking. I started scratching my head and picking at my scalp all the time, to the point my shoulders were always covered in what looked like awful dandruff flakes. My mom thought I must have lice or something and went through the whole treatment but I couldn't seem to quit digging at my head, which to her, looked like scratching.

I became convinced for a few years that I must still have lice, and it affected my self esteem very much to go from 11 to 13/14 constantly being self conscious about anyone seeing me with my hand digging at my scalp, because I was worried they would "find out" about my self imagined lice, but the more I stressed about it, the more uncontrollable my picking became, to the point that almost every waking moment of the day in my early teens, no matter what I was doing, one hand was always picking.

I always was aware I was doing it and that I shouldn't, but I had to basically stop anything else I was doing and completely focus to stop doing it, which only lasted seconds until my full attention was no longer centered on not picking. Then, bam! Right back to it. I did it all through high school and up to about age 19, and everyone I knew assumed I had horrible dandruff or must not shower and wash my hair, which was completely the opposite.

As an adult, my friend and roommates when I was 19 started trying to come up with ways to get me to stop once they realized I really couldn't help it. These ideas ranged from my best friend punching me in the arm to my girlfriend stopping whatever we were talking about to tell me to stop picking. After about six months, though, everyone gave up because nothing worked. I tried to keep my fingernails cut as short as I could to help cut down on it, but I would still pick, and once I cut my nails so short my fingers were cut or bleeding, which followed me taking a sewing needle to my scalp out of frustration of not being able to pick.

Like many of the other posts I read here, I also zone out when scratching my scalp. I can sit in a room with no tv on or anything in dead silence and do it for hours while thinking, without even realizing it.

About a year and a half ago, the constant flakes and dandruff look started getting me so much unwanted attention, I decided that if I couldn't stop picking, I had to find a way to change what I picked at. After some careful thought and consideration, I decided that the least noticeable (due to the fact I have shaggy hair that covered most of the top area of my ears, would be along the edge and curves of my ears. I deliberately would scratch or rub at the skin of my ears to make the skin become dried, rough and cracked, until I could finally start picking away little pieces, since scabs would develop on the edge of the top areas of my ear. I would pick at them until they bled and then switch ears long enough to let new scabs form. This did achieve what I had hoped: I stopped picking at my head completely, but it did not help the fact that my picking could cause me to zone out to the point that I might, for example, get up from a movie to go into the kitchen and get something to drink, and on the way feel a new scab or piece of skin hanging on my ear, and find myself thirty minutes later still standing in front of the fridge staring blankly, picking at my ear.

Finally, I decided that preventative measures were needed. I started wearing gloves almost all the time, like work gloves or whatever. I had gloves for everything: driving, working, knitted ones for any time it was chilly, and gloves for a time when I could get away with wearing them without it seeming too abnormal.

My problem was I could never find any gloves that fit my hands well enough to be able to still do small, dexterous things like pick something tiny up or respond to a text message or whatever, and I'd get frustrated and pull them off repeatedly until I'd get mad enough to stop wearing them which was immediately followed by, you guessed it, back to the ear.

Finally, a good friend of mine gave me some old bmx gloves of hers one day when I was helping her clean out her garage. They fit my fingers so perfect it was like not having gloves on at all, and for a couple of months, everything was great, with no picking, and when I did, I'd get my gloves if they weren't on already.

Then, one particularly stressful night, I got a bad ingrown hair on my neck that hurt too much to leave alone, so I used some tweezers to get at it, and in the process the tweezers brushed against a small scab from a recent scratch in my sleep incident. It was just brushing the point and by accident, I pulled the scab off. Minutes later, without thinking about it, I went to pick at my ear but couldn't because my gloves were on, so I picked up the tweezers thinking "it's quicker than nails and I'm just getting a real, actual normal scab the rest of the way off." Three hours later, my ear was picked so bad with tweezers it had bled in several small spots, had almost none of the fine little hairs it should have and was almost completely missing a layer of skin. I felt my ear with my bare fingers and it felt like the skin surface was like pulp. I'd started a whole new, and much worse habit of picking my ear skin with tweezers, to the point that I sought out different kinds of tweezers with sharper, more accurate points and edges.

Even worse, I noticed that with my fingers, I could never really manage to pick all of both ears to the point they were too damaged to touch before at least part of one had healed enough to start on again. So I at least always had somewhere to keep my hand occupied. But with tweezers, I could tear up both ears much faster, and then would go right back to scratching my head.

I now not only scratch my head and pick my ear, but I have probably eight kinds of tweezers in my nightstand drawer for getting at every angle of my ear. It's become an obsession. I can't leave the house without a pair of tweezers in my pocket so I can do it while driving.

I don't know if anyone else does anything like this, but I'm sure we all know how people look at you kind of weird for picking your scalp, ear, arms, whatever, too much sometimes. Well, imagine that way, way worse when people who pull up to a traffic light beside you look over and notice you are picking at your ear with tweezers while driving, or your friends see you do it while having a conversation. It's a much, much more severe reaction.

People are starting to really think I'm crazy, or severely addicted to drugs or something. Some friends avoid me now, and even when friends of mine try to joke about it and make light of it, I'm so self-conscious, all it does is set me off into a rage. The reason I started looking for information on this finally after 13 years ( I'm now 24), is due to the severe level my picking has reached, and I am happy to find that it is indeed a condition. What I don't really know what to do is how to handle the situation now, since most of what I've looked up hasn't really been helpful on ways to fix or treat it. I have no money for therapy or anything like that, but it is coming to the point where my picking that used to just happen when I was stressed, is now the main cause of my stress, and therefore making itself worse and more stressful.

It's an endless loop and I've tried so many ways to fix it over the years that I'm out of ideas, and I haven't seen anything in these earlier posts that I haven't already tried. Someone please, if you have any ideas post them. I'd really like to have my at least somewhat normal life back.

Alexisroxx
Post 72

Wow. I am blown away at how many people are replying to this website. I posted a few times about a year ago (I am posts 25, 30 and 31) and then I never actually went out and did anything about the problem. I would have to say though, that my picking has kind of slowed because this year was less traumatic for me in terms of stress.

I think that one of the reasons that I don’t get help is because I am only now 14 and I would have to tell my parents that I want treatment, and I would have to have them kind of go through all of it with me. It's sad, but my plan is to wait until I live alone so I can go to the doctor alone, and pay for it alone, and drive myself there alone. It seems too stressful for me to have too many people in my life worrying about it. I also get very, very defensive when my parents ask me about it.

That’s why you people on here should just go and get help, because there’s a lot less holding you back and it will be easier than you think to get better. I’ve realized that it's next to impossible to beat this by yourself.

Hey post 71: I see what you did there with the motto. I laughed.

I wish all of you fellow dermatillomaniacs the best and I hope you all beat dermatillomania (by going to your doctor).

anon195887
Post 71

I am 28 years old and I am going through some stuff (of course, 10 year reunion time). So I pretty much have established I have some issues, but this search on google led to this article and I realize this is OCD.

I started picking hair right from the root at my crown in junior high and it progressed from there, I think. (I suppress a lot of my bad memories, so I have a really skewed view of my past). I switched to eyelashes as my hairline was affected, and then eyebrows and then (I can't believe I'm saying this ) pubic hairs and have been doing this for a while.

I never wax so I will never know what it looks like and I will always have a stash of hairs to pluck, far hidden away. This has now begun to affect my sex life, among other issues I discovered. I think I do it to keep from having sex, since I was a bit on the nympho side until recent sexual traumas.

But I am counting my blessings and making changes now. And this post is part of that. I pop pimples down there still and have many scars that have not healed and have been infected. Ingrown hairs I pluck from everywhere, and I try to only pop pimples when they promise to be juicy and explosive (weird right?). And what is crazy is, I am an attractive woman otherwise. Unless I undressed and you got to shave my pubic hairs, you would never know.

I am definitely going to get some help for all of my issues. I want to have a happy life and stop hurting/hating myself. Good luck everyone and know that you are the way you are for a good reason, so make your mark on the world and not on yourself (catchy little motto for our plight, huh?).

anon190611
Post 70

I have been picking my scabs for a very long time. I started when I was a senior in high school, 1976 or 77. I am 53 years old now. At first it was because of anxiety or nervousness being painfully shy. Now I don't really have any idea why I pick my scabs. I have lots of scars on my hands and legs from all the years I have been picking. I tried to go to a psychiatrist and therapist but that did not do any good.

I am worse now than before, having 10 sores on my hands and face now to pick, that don't go away for many months. The doctor did give me medication but all that did was make me very sleepy and did not help me. I guess I will have to do this on my own.

I don't know how, but I have had no luck in trying to get help with the medical profession. We didn't really talk about my picking and the doctor didn't seem too concerned about it, when it was a different story for me.

anon186398
Post 69

I am so pleased i have found this website. It has helped so much. I have picked all of my eyelashes out since I was eight. I didn't really start picking at my spots until my parents split up when i was 10.

I can vividly remember my mother being angry at the time and saying, "You've got loads of blackheads on your nose." She then went on to squeeze them and she was happy that they all had gone. From then on, I had an obsession with getting rid of them. My skin was perfectly fine; I only had blackheads on my nose. I started picking at my legs at pimples that were hardly there. I can remeber my mother taking me to the doctor about my leg because it was in such a state and really infected.

anon180212
Post 68

I have always picked at my gums or picked off my scabs since i was about 2-3 years old. I thought it was normal, and slowly it progressed as i grew into adolescence. I would literally sit at night for hours and pick and scrape my gums with anything (including forks and knives).

I have had to have three gum grafts so far and i am only 17 but i still find myself frequently picking the gums off my bottom two incisors nearly daily. However, this was not my only mental issue and i think the trait comes from my asperger's syndrome. It kind of stinks, though, to harm oneself but i can't help it.

anon176770
Post 67

does anyone know if this can cause hair loss (CSP) of the scalp, that is?

anon173583
Post 66

I'm reading this because I myself am trying to find out if this is some type of disorder that others deal with. I have this thing where I like to pick at all of my pimples. It's really weird to say but I love to pop big pimples and squeeze the stuff out. I also find myself always picking the gunk out of my cat's eyes. I know I sound like a big freak but if you meet me I'm just like everyone else. I guess people just don't admit these things.

anon167232
Post 65

after reading post 59, i felt it was me. I have the same problem and i did few same ideas to avoid it. it started four years back as dandruff on my scalp and until now i can't take my hands off it.

i feel like scraping it off when I'm alone, bored and tensed. sometimes i feel i have a mental problem. my boyfriend scolds me for doing this and says i may have a big problem if i don't stop. i want to stop it. i have tried using a hairstyle that i don't want to mess up in public, engaging myself in some other things but it hasn't worked. What shall we all do to avoid these things? i am worried that this will continue forever.

anon162698
Post 64

I'm so glad I'm not alone. I have been picking at my face since i was nine years old and started getting small zits on my face, but it got worse as my acne got worse in ninth grade.

Sometimes I would think I feel an ingrown pimple and obsessively try to pick it out and have to go to school with a giant hole in my face that was hard to explain when the boys would ask, "What the hell is that?".

I'm now 22 and I still deal with it, even just today.

I work at a hooters kind of job (not stripping) but I have called in because I'm so self conscious of looking people in the eye.

anon162512
Post 63

This is a thing? I've been mutilating myself, picking at my skin for years; I thought I was just demented. But this is an actual thing? What a relief it is to know I'm not alone. I must explore my possible disorder further.

anon157449
Post 62

Even while sitting here reading this I just realized that I was picking at a scab on my face.

anon154430
Post 61

I have done this for a long long time now. I will sit in the mirror and pick at my face for hours at a time. I think that there is always something left in there, but really there isn't.

I decided to buy an acne care system which has the wash, toner, and lotion in it. I use this now and it makes me not even want to pick at my face after I do it. Also before all of this, I gave myself a staph infection due to picking, and it pretty much took over my life for about a year. It is possible to stop when you think about what you are actually doing.

anon154166
Post 60

I remember the first time I read other people's accounts of how they pick and feel pleasure and compulsively reopen wounds. How they not only pick them, but eat them too. How they pick hidden spots that nobody else sees. I saw that I wasn't the only person. I cried that day with the knowledge that I wasn't some freak, that I wasn't alone.

I just started with a therapist and I am going to ask her about this problem. Maybe she might be able to help, but part of me doesn't want help. I don't want to lose this crutch of mine -- a small comfort in my life.

anon153681
Post 59

Like many here, i didn't know my picking at 16 years old was a condition until many years later. I considered the scabs on my head just infected hair follicles that took a while to heal because i couldn't put a band aid on my scalp. But after the second and third years, i realized my stress and actions were causing permanent scars and baldness. I talked to a shrink and that helped me a lot.

First I had to understand and accept that my behavior was fueled by stress, anxiety, and worry. Many others are fueled perfectionism, for instance wanting perfect skin. It's not possible and it's not human to be perfect - and why focus on looking perfect when I'd rather aim to feel better? Less shame, guilt, doubt, self-loathing is the ideal result.

I realized i felt anxiety when I couldn't explain my fears or worries with words - and instead those bad feelings came out in picking scabs and making myself bleed. If you don't think you need professional help, look in the mirror and see what your body is telling you! If you would see the doctor to help fix your skin, why not strike the root of the problem and see a doctor to try and help re-route your thouht process?

Here are some tips that helped me:

Writing things down when I feel like picking my head. I include what i was thinking about. Was I bored with not much in my mind? Or was I overwhelmed with zooming fears?

I would pick at night until the blood would start then stop and wait until the AM when my scab formed. So i had to break that schedule. Now I plan appointments and classes early so I have to jump out of bed and immediately rush off. No time to lie around and pick.

Since sores were on my scalp and I am female, I would put up my hair in certain styles that I could not mess or pick at in public. Hair bands, hair clips, braids, and hairspray would block my nails.

Acrylics and other types of fake nails are really thick and it is almost impossible to pick. it's not 100 percent foolproof, but it makes me conscious of what I'm trying to do.

Positive affirmations help! "I am worthy of a nice life. i do not need to fix/punish myself. Those are some of my tips. But really fixing my anxiety with meds (lexapro), time management preparation, and organizational skills helped me a lot too.

catfishdog
Post 58

I'm 44 years old and have been picking at scabs anywhere on my body for as long as I can remember. I even asked my little sister a few times when we were kids if I could pick her scabs because I had run out - it's that bad sometimes! Self-disgust, self-loathing, little or no self-esteem, life long depression, multiple traumas, a mother who made me hate myself... whatever the root cause, I despise (yet secretly love) picking my scabs! What an odd paradox. The scars only serve as visual memories that after all this time, I'm still deeply wounded inside.

Yes, please, more suggestions are needed for coping with Dermatillomania!

@AlexisRoxx; At age 13, I commend you for being so brave and speaking about your experiences with dermatillomania! I was so embarrassed at your age and it wasn't until I was in my late 20's that I could even begin to talk about this issue with anyone. With such an open heart and mind you will surely find some answers for yourself!

I really like your idea of pressing hard on the scab as opposed to picking it, though for me, I know one of the reasons I do it is for the tactile sensation. Like you, I like smooth surfaces on my skin but if I find a scab, a rough surface that can come loose, I'll pick it off. So simply touching it can trigger the irresistible urge to pick.

Distractions are probably better in my case so I'll try wearing bracelets more often, and will try the rubber band idea too. Maybe every time I get the urge to pick I'll just snap the rubber band!

I recognize that my triggers are definitely stress related; in times where I've been able to go for weeks or months without picking, it's usually when I have little to no major stresses going on in my

life. Anxiety from stress is the main trigger, so if I can avoid anxiety by being more organized and prepared in my daily life, that can help a lot. I've also considered lately taking up some sort of hobby that involves using my hands, like knitting or making jewelry or something along those lines - something I can do when my hands are idle.

Really, any activity that keeps my hands busy is a good distraction but what can I do if I pick in my sleep? Has that ever happened to anyone else? I can't believe that I have so much stress that I have picked in my sleep recently. I suppose I could wear cotton gloves to bed.

I do know that for me, taking a supplement of B vitamins to help with stress really helps. Just get a good B-Complex vitamin and try it for a few weeks. The science and medicine are behind that idea. It's also been suggested that taking an Omega-3 supplement can help too, though the research is still early on that. They think it helps with depression and I've been testing that theory. I'll let you know in a few months if I get any results. Since I've taken antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds most of my life, I'd like to find as natural an approach as possible.

Taking any medication for the length of time that I have can cause liver problems and I'd like to avoid that!

I'm glad this forum is here. It's nice to finally be able to talk about this with others who suffer as well. Ultimately, I believe the answer lies in learning to value and appreciate myself more. Life is hard, why do we make it harder for ourselves?

hello5557
Post 56

I have picked on and off during my life. When I was a teenager, I pulled my eyelashes and eyebrows. I have an anxiety disorder and take meds for it. However still, under unusual stress, I still resort to some type of picking. Just recently, I have broken out with sores on my scalp. How ideal was that! The picking started up again. I have experienced the trance state. While in that state, you cannot stop. It relieves the anxiety for a short time.

I'd like to share what I have researched about this trance state. This should give all of you a better awareness of actually what is going on.

When you pick and feel pain, your brain endorphins and serotonin: a natural pain relief and a natural feel good hormone. As you pick, your brain is signaled to release more and more. So, you actually are dealing with an addiction to your own brain chemistry.

It is all tied to being anxious. Subconsciously, your mind is attempting to deal with whatever, a bad experience, abuse, guilt, etc. So, whenever this attempts to surface, and it will continue till you either forgive or re-experience the situation again, you will actually use your brain chemistry as a drug of choice. We just learned what we can do to release it at will. Think about this, and next time you need to pick, hold your finger on the area or scab and allow the event playing in your subconscious to surface and face it. The worst thing that will happen is you will cry!

Blessings to all of you.

anon151854
Post 54

I have been picking at my face mostly, or anywhere that isn't smooth and it's so embarrassing! I am 27 and it's taking over me though and has since I was about 12. I just need to see stuff come out of my face and then I can't stop, like I really can't.

I come out of the bathroom and my face is a mess then I cover it with noxzema or something so it just looks like I am doing a mask, then I am stuck inside all day since I picked the hell out of my face.

I feel like this is a great site but it seems almost everyone has questions too, so we should try and help each other. Definitely tell what you're going through but if you have an idea for someone, share it too! My thoughts are that it is definitely a anxiety/depression thing for me and ocd big time. The only thing so far is to see people with flawless skin and think ok if I keep doing this that will never happen but my skin is pretty messed up already, I think a distraction somehow, I am still working on that one!

anon145093
Post 53

I have been dealing this skin picking for 10 years now. Mine are mostly on my back and legs, arms. I try to stop, but can't stand seeing that scab there, so I try to pick that off without making it bleed.

My back is in real bad shape right now and most all of my shirts have blood on the back of them. I am somewhat embarrassed, but I can't help it. It just happens and I am back at it.

My arms have several sores on them right now and a lot of scars. I don't know what to do to stop this, or if I want to. --nja4959

anon144437
Post 52

@Alexis Roxx: Thank you for your great ideas! I am excited to try them out. I know that the deeper solution is therapy but I think us skin-pickers will always have the impulse - and sometimes little things can help block it, or substitute for it in non-skin-damaging ways.

My favorite solution (for face-picking): medical tape!

I find it really helpful to put a little neosporin (or the like) on places on my face I've been picking (usually zits or former zits turned into sores by my picking) and then put a little bit of medical/surgical tape on each spot. Obviously this only works when I'm at home! But it's so helpful.

Every time my fingers wander to that familiar spot, they are met by a barrier. They can play with the tape if I want, but at least I'm not further damaging my skin. And, in fact, the neosporin/tape combo helps sores heal more quickly! Sometimes I wear it overnight because I often pick before bed or when I wake up. Hope this might be helpful to someone out there

PS: you can buy medical tape in any drug store -- google image to see what it looks like. Look for micropore surgical tape or something like that.

anon138661
Post 51

Aah, i knew i had a problem. I've been doing this for over 20 years now (I'm only 27) and I've just in the middle of the night thought, surely this is a recognised issue? I've seen psychiatrists and doctors, etc., all my life for mental health issues but never mentioned this, as i didn't know it was a recognised issue!

I pick my ear and it's agonising. I've had the same scab for over a year now. It used to be my scalp, but I still do my legs; they're scarred all over. It's like hell and I think I'm going to go deaf but i keep doing it. I cannot stand it anymore. how do i stop?

anon137326
Post 50

I am a picker too! So glad i found you guys. my skin still looks good though, thanks to my ability to hide and control it. it's christmas and i have a psychosomatic skin issue, of course! it's just stress and I've found long hot aveeno baths and yoga to completely help with this, also long walks in nature. Ocean water is also very healing for the skin. we all need stress relief.

Yes, pickers are ocd but we are also amazingly capable of "attention to detail" so learn to focus elsewhere, take the focus off of your skin! hope this helps you guys, too. happy new year!

anon133894
Post 49

It started out with a small cut on the bottom of my gums when i was 12. Now I'm 23 and have picked away my gums to the point that they have receded.

I have noticed that the less i drink alcohol, the less i feel the need to pick. I do get in a trance state while picking and will just blankly stare. I did stop for a while but now that I have began drinking more commonly the picking has gotten out of control. I try to focus on just one portion of my gums so as to not damage all of them.

I fear that I will lose my teeth at an early age but this isn't enough to make me quit. I will take my fingers out of my mouth and tell myself to stop but before i know it I'm picking and don't even realize when I started. It's scary and I know I have it in me to stop.

Maybe I need to stop drinking in order to quit this habit but that's a whole other issue.

anon133218
Post 48

This had been a problem for me for my whole life until it mysteriously went away in my twenties. I think it had something to do with my intense guilt over wanting to pick my partner's skin. i knew it would be wrong, and then i felt like it would be wrong for me to hurt myself too.

My advice would be to always keep your fingernails really short, don't keep tweezers around, use dandruff shampoo. reward yourself for not picking. go for one hour or however long, and then add more time. don't feel bad, it's just a form of ocd.

anon131796
Post 47

I never knew this was a disease, and now I am a little freaked out. I have been picking my face for at least eight years now. I love to squeeze out the black heads (which I have a lot of) in order for skin perfection.

I used to take straight pins and sewing needles and dig out the black head, creating more redness and bleeding. I didn't want the redness and bleeding, I just wanted the clear skin. I no longer use them because I pride my self in being able to cover up my skin, and I don't want redness or scars on my face.

I recently discovered using my tweezers to pull out the "ready" ones, which thrills me to no end. I also love when I pop a big blackhead and it is hard and huge. I sit there and stare at it in my fingers playing with it. I wish I had a microscope so I could sit and really look at it.

I sit in front of the mirror for at least 30 minutes a night to pick my face. I start with my chin and move to my nose. I am usually satisfied and can go to bed, but some days if I am already in bed and have not picked I get up out of bed and do it.

I force my husband to pick ones I cannot see or reach, and I pick his too. I dig in my scalp and create scabs to pick, or pick from ones that have formed on their own. I am also obsessed with picking the dead and split ends off of my hair. I feel like I have to get all the bad ends off. The worse the shape of the hair, the more satisfying it is. To feel the snap of the hair and to pick the ultimate ones, it is euphoric.

My husband hates when I pick my hair. I will also pull out pieces of hair that bother me. I've pulled out several at a time and even though it hurts I am satisfied.

I am trying to resist the urge to go sit in front of the mirror right now or pick my hair. I wish I could stop, but I feel like I can't until my face is clear and my hair is perfect.

anon131209
Post 46

Try keeping your nails cut short all the time - hard to pick at something without the right 'tool.'

anon129755
Post 45

I am a 20 year old female and I have been picking my gums and cheeks since I was around 7 yrs old. My dentist always thought it was abrasions from sugar or cutting it on my food but I told the dentist I do it to myself and they look at me like I am crazy.

I'm a normal person who gets pleasure out of picking my gums. It's a compulsion I do and makes me feel satisfied. I don't know why I do this. I've tried everything to stop, but eventually I just go back to doing it. My boyfriend hates it with a passion and I just wish I could stop because it's causing stupid fights but he just doesn't get it.

How do you treat this? I've tried wearing tips on my nails and I just found other ways to get at my habit like using floss. Please help me!

anon129303
Post 44

I join all the others in their concern. It is a mental problem that most likely can only be stopped with medical help. I am compulsive on many issues, including collecting weird things. Knowing other people have the problem should be helpful to me in stopping.

I will check in here often to remind me that it is a mental problem. I will add this to the list of other issues I have that I discuss with my shrink. I suppose there could be worse addictions. I am a recovering alcoholic and went to rehab to stop drinking. I have been sober for over one and one half years. If I can stop drinking I should be able to stop picking.

anon127248
Post 43

This is the first time I have looked this up and I can't believe that there are other people out there that suffer the same thing!

I have been picking scabs for as long as I remember. It sounds really strange, but I'm sure you guys understand, but it is soothing to me and I just can't leave something on my skin that is not smooth. So, when I pick a scab it's almost like I think I'm doing something good, like healing it, but logically I know I'm not. But I can't stop.

I always say to myself, ok starting tomorrow I'm not going to pick anything. But it never works. I just don't understand why I keep doing this. I am smart (fairly!) and yet I am doing damage to myself, damage that surely can be avoided.

It was nice to find this site anyway. I don't know what I'll try. How can I train myself? Maybe if i realise that it's a condition and not me just being stupid, maybe that will help.

I will try cold turkey again first, and let you know how I go. Every time I get the urge to pick or bite my nails, I will say out loud, I don't want to harm myself, I am worth more than that. Sounds corny I know!

I will post back and let you know. Otherwise I'm trying something else. Bye for now, too.

anon126127
Post 42

What a relief! Aged 35, I've been to the GP and skin clinics, pretending that i have some kind of adult acne and hoping for a cure whilst secretly knowing deep down that I cause most of the spots by picking anything on my face that doesn't feel smooth and creating a complete mess!

I bite my fingers until I can't do anything with them (like cleaning, cooking) and spending hours, also in a trance like state until my face and fingers look a mess. i do it daily like a ritual and gain gratification and then utter disgust with myself, it's like a snow ball effect.

After finding this site i have booked to go to my GP to hopefully get some cognitive behavioural therapy and cure this. Like i say, I'm 35 and i have always thought I'm ugly but i look at pictures of me in my 20s and i think how attractive i was.

I am annoyed that i have let this get such a grip on me. Here's hoping that the GP will refer me for the treatment which i know now from this site that i need!

good luck everyone and let's hope we can all get over it and stop it taking over our lives!

anon123962
Post 41

I am 32 years old and have been picking at myself since I was around 2 or 3 years old. I honestly thought I was the only one in the world who does this. I can't believe I found a site where there is actually a name for this and other people have the same disorder. It's kind of a relief.

I really want to heal and just completely stop picking. I have three children and it already affects two of them. My oldest worries about me and my middle child mimics me by picking at herself, too. I don't want her skin to look like mine as she ages and I don't want her to endure the same ridicule I did as a child and teen.

Does anyone here know of any way to stop other than through meds?

At the age of 13 I kind of went into remission for about five years or so and then it started up again. It's actually to the point now that I pick at my husbands pimples. He is disgusted by it, understandably.

Does anyone else have this problem too? I am truly glad I found this place to express myself about this disorder. Thank you to whomever created this space.

anon118503
Post 40

I'm 18 and it seems that my picking is only getting more severe. I don't know exactly when did this all begin but I've been fighting with this problem for many years now. I absolutely hate it and this makes me hate myself which is even worse. I just don't know how to stop being self-destructive and quit this awful habit.

When I was younger, I used to pick the skin on my back but thankfully, now I have almost stopped doing that but then I have started picking my face more often and it is causing me too much pain. I cannot stand this, yet I feel the urge to do this and also it is calming in a weird way.

A few years back I decided to punch myself in the face every time I picked because I thought that would work. Unfortunately it didn't and I just ended up having bruises on my cheeks. People noticed them and started asking questions but I just lied. It was too embarrassing to tell the truth and it still is. The shame I feel is horrible and it makes me pick even more.

Picking is like a drug to me. I want to quit so bad but I just can't. Last year I began trying to be pick-free for 30 days. Sadly, I haven't succeeded so far, but at this point I am able to not pick for a day or two. Recently I already reached 10 days without any urges and I was really proud of myself. The bad thing is that I couldn't keep it up and failed. Well, I'm still tying and hopefully someday I will be strong enough to beat this disorder.

anon111554
Post 39

There is a satisfaction in the pain of pulling a scab, even in the bleeding. The texture of a scab and the mellow pain associated with the healing process feels incorrect, when i touch it with my hand.

I would rather have the more intense pain over the subdued. So much so, that I let another scab form (maybe the acceptance of bleeding) but not to heal, and then pull the new one off. When I bite my nails, skin once protected and covered is exposed. It feels strange, so I fix the feeling by biting more of the nail away. The saliva also softens the nail.

When I think about my flimsy nails (flimsy from already being bitten and moistened), and my skin that's is exposed more salvation occurs. I can stop biting, but picking continues until the scar closes around and replaces the scab through repeated removal.

anon108574
Post 38

I am 25 and have had this problem from years. I have scars on my face, legs, chest and bum.

I've had a spot on my bum for about five years. I pick at it until it bleeds, let it scab over and pick at it again.

At the minute I seem to have a few swollen taste buds on my tongue. I can't help but pull these off, which really hurts. I now have a smooth part on my tongue where there are just no taste buds left. Once I've finished I'm in more pain than I started but somehow I feel satisfied.

Give me some tweezers and I could literally pull all the hairs out of leg. The only way to stop this is by shaving very regularly.

I don't feel anxious or depressed. In fact, things are going rather well in life at the minute.

I really want to stop as my poor husband hates this habit and i am scaring myself. Can anyone help?

anon106624
Post 37

I am 56 years old and have been picking my skin since I was about six. My parents would take me to the doctor and he would say it's because I am allergic to grass and I was supposed to stay out of the grass.

When I became a teenager, I would pick mostly my legs and arms. My father would yell at me constantly to stop and would make me wear white gloves all the time because he thought that would help. He made fun of me in front of people about my skin, but nothing helped.

Here I am now, at 56, not as bad as it was, but right now I have a scab on my arm that is driving me crazy to stay away from. What the heck causes this? I wasn't abused as a child, but the craving just never goes away.

My one daughter started picking her arm a few years ago and I felt so bad. Her husband was on her constantly about it and I finally told him there was no use in asking her to stop. She can't. I'm guessing I'll have scabs on me in my casket some day. I am so frustrated about it.

anon103648
Post 36

When I was very young watched my aunty squeeze at her face in the mirror, even though I couldn't see anything there and afterwards her face would be all spotty and bruised. She would walk away from the bathroom quickly. I used to tell her to please stop. I can't remember what she said to brush me off but she would talk to me as she did it.

It started for me whenever I had a pimple. Usually I get them when my period is due or if my diet hasn't been too good. Also when I'm stressed. I usually am in the frame of mind that squeezing gets rid of the problem quicker. I get real close to the mirror and I've used pins, tweezers and needles to try to get rid of spots and often made myself bleed.

I squeezed when it was really painful but I told myself the pain would be worth it in the end. I've given myself terrible infections and was too embarrassed to go to the doctor about it. I ended up just wrapping my head in a scarf and changing my fashion so that nobody would ever know.

This went on for a year and now I can't bear to see the scar in the mirror and I still squeeze and use a pin and tweezers.

I have spent a long, long time in the bathroom doing horrible things to my skin in the hope that I might make it better. Then I cover it with make-up, which means it takes longer to heal. I could go on and on about this problem because it's been going on a for a long time and this is the first time I've written anything about it.

I want to see a doctor but I'm afraid to talk. The last time I tried, I couldn't speak just choked with tears. I've avoided social situations and have ended up with no friends, nowhere to go, nothing fun to do even though I want to. I've avoided family gatherings because I didn't want to be looked at.

I'm 23 and have barely looked people in the eye and can't bear to look at myself anymore and haven't left the house in days.

This problem has been dictating my life, how I feel about me, how I treat others, and I'm embarrassed, ashamed, feel so much guilt, anger and frustration. I really really hate what's happened to my face.

anon100778
Post 35

I've had this for years. I am now 23 and it began was I was about 14. (Same time as mental illness, go figure!)

But, it's been a bad journey. This mostly occurs on my face, neck, back, shoulders, and chest. I have severely scarred skin, I cannot go shirtless or even sleeveless, and I really don't know what to do about it. I don't have the guts to bare myself to a doctor, and my family has never actually seen more than a sample of the skin.

My face is actually the lesser of the zones, my chest is a disaster, and my shoulders and back are about tied.

The worst part is that I do have acne, so it feeds the problem, but naturally, picking doesn't help either. I also take a low-dose of Adderall for ADHD -- this dramatically increases the problem. So be warned: Adderall ups this by 100x.

I could go in the bathroom, shut the door and rip at my skin for an hour if I forget time, and often do it late at night for an hour. I just can't stop, and one way to combat it is just to keep my hands busy -- playing video games or (lol) typing works too. Nothing else works. I'm just worried about how the scars will ever go away down the road.

I plan on getting a surgery sometime and I'm worried about even showing my chest to a doctor. Can they actually deny surgery because of these sorts of scars if they interfere with an incision?

I have no idea. It could just be a typical anxiety. I've hid it for a while but I wish there were groups made for this at hospitals to go and do group doctors visits! I would feel much better in a room with others having to bare it all in the same situation.

anon98758
Post 33

Wow, it is 5:00 in the morning and just as happens probably at least a couple times a week, I wake myself up picking my nose. I want the entire inside to be smooth, (i think) I fear sounding "gross", but I finding this site I must write this, and admit I have a serious problem.

I am almost 53 years old. I know I picked at my scabs as a child, always had people commenting on my scared legs. As I have been thinking about this very seriously over the last couple of months, I have finally made an appointment to see a psychiatrist in two days and get this out in the open. I believe our "secrets keep us sick".

Now before I continue to acknowledge how much and where I pick, I want you to know that I was a cheerleader in high school, where my legs were visible to others, I am told I am quite attractive and yes, compared to many people, i do feel i have a pretty face.

I had lap band surgery to lose about 75 pounds three years ago. I have gained 15 of it back and sometimes my ice cream eating is out of control. I have a very outgoing personality and am an upbeat, fun to be around, life of the party kind of person. I share this because there is such a contrast when I get off to myself.

I notice many times, as soon as I am leaving some place and get into my car by myself that I immediately begin picking. No one is going to see me! I may have just spent the last three hours with people and never picked and it becomes an overwhelming urge as soon as i am by myself. I have struggled telling anyone, because for the most part, most of my picking is overly obvious. I may have a sore on my arm and someone will say, "Oh, what happened?" and depending what it looks like, I will say, "Oh I burned myself on the iron, or make something else up."

Usually my sores start out as something that does happen, like a bug bite or a scrape of some kind, but I scratch it so much it becomes larger than it initially was. In the past I have been able to keep it to only one or two spots that I am picking and usually under clothing, and would be become "pleased" - "satisfied" with just picking the same one over and over.

However, I have been taking note of my entire body and each part that I am picking. I start out by clipping my toenails too short, then I will pick at some of the rough nails or skin around my toes. I have one particular toenail that I have been basically ripping off since I was in my early 20's. I remember roommates noticing that toe was always bleeding and rarely had a nail (it keeps growing back) and with my humorous ways, we began calling the toe "Baldy." Well, it still is pretty much a bald nail.

Next, my legs. 99 percent of the time I have one to three sores of some type and usually much more in the summer time because of bug bites. I rarely can get a bug bite that I don't stop scratching until I have broken the skin. Truly, I feel like I can't stop scratching it until the skin has been broken. Then of course the becomes a sore that can and is picked and re-picked as it grows larger and many times becomes infected, but I have grown good at "first aiding" them myself. I use peroxide, anti-biotic cream and put a band aid on it. Eventually it heals but I am sure to have another spot that I pick.

Sometimes I might find an ingrown hair that I pick at, but rarely. Arms are basically the same as my legs. I have several scars from some scraps, burns, etc. that turned into a picking party for me. Now and then people comment on them, they really show as I get a sun tan. I have been lucky (maybe not lucky) not to have it be something that many people have commented over the years, and I attribute that to my extroverted personality and sense of confidence that I can appear to have.

I have almost never picked at my face and I am sure a huge part of that is because I know it would scar and I didn't want to look gross. I generally have had "stylish" hairstyles and wore makeup and thus, this has (in my mind) diverted people from noticing the rest of my sores, etc.

I have had sores on my ears and recall when I finish picking, (and bleeding) that I make sure my hair is covering it up. I have always picked at my finger nails, bitten them and picked at the cuticles. many times to the point of bleeding.

I recall picking my scalp when I was maybe a teenager or early 20's and thought I could cover it, at one point I was doing it constantly, and when it would get real sore, I would start putting the peroxide on it regularly.

Well one day, (i have dark brown hair), someone commented on a spot on the back of my head that looked like it had been bleached. I about died, realizing now that the peroxide was making my "secret spot" noticeable. And I have very thin hair, so i don't get into the "trance" like scratching picking on my scalp.

Now, believe me when I say all of this is very hard for me to say. This is the first time ever I have ever written any of this down or given this kind of detail.

I plan to share all of this with my husband and sister. I believe strongly our "secrets keep up sick" and mine has only gotten worse, and I don't want to continue to treat my body this way.

I want help, don't know what exactly, but like I said, bringing it out in the open with those I trust and love is where I am starting, and "plan" to tell the psychiatrist on Monday (first appointment). I know this all sounds gross, but I have to continue to get out specifics, picking until it bleeds is common, feeling some type of satisfaction is the norm for me, squeezing it when infected is common, trying to cover it with clothing or band aids is common when it starts to get bad, which are also my attempts at saying to myself, "i have to stop this, now put a bandaid over it", which does help sometimes.

I do bite on the insides of my mouth rarely, but have. I bite my tongue too. If i get a bump on it, I start biting at it which really causes intense pain, but it doesn't seem to bother me. When biting on my tongue, of course, more bumps are created and for maybe a week, sometimes two or more I can't stop. And this is something that can be done in public while at a meeting cause no one sees my teeth moving around inside my closed mouth!

If I am driving in the car, I put pressure on my tongue (after biting it) and will look in my rear view mirror to see it bleed. Okay, I am not going to go into why I do all of this, because I don't know. I can tell you I watched my mother be physically abusive to my mother for years until she finally divorced him at around age nine.

I got into a physically abusive relationship in high school and would wear make up to cover the bruises on my face. I married a very emotionally abusive person (he was very narcissistic and bi-polar), who put me down constantly until I divorced after nearly 20 years. Now, I am married again to a wonderful person (eight years) and know I can't fully love him until I get help for myself.

Obviously something is not right. I am sick and I am tired of doing these things secretly. I am pretty much an open book on most parts of my life, except this; it has just been too embarrassing, too disgusting, too repulsive. I am sure I have "grossed" some of you out (as is a big fear of why I have avoided sharing this with anyone) but I hope also you may be comforted that you are not alone. I know exactly what you are living. I have done it for probably 50 years.

anon92847
Post 32

I too pick at myself and sometimes create scabs so i can pick. One time the bottom of my foot was very bad i could not walk and was ordered by my doctor to take antibiotics and wear a ace bandage at all times. She also said it's high anxiety and nervousness. I am on anti anxiety meds now and it seems to be helping a little.

Alexisroxx
Post 31

And also, I hear dermatillomania could be linked to anxiety disorders and could be treated with medication (the anxiety, not for the dermatillomania)

You all have to realize that we can't rely on others to force us to stop and medications though. We have to do this ourselves. It's up to us to stop.

I believe I can stop. If I'm 13 and willing, you can be too.

Alexisroxx
Post 30

Wow it's probably been more than a month since I've posted here. No, three months haha. I was number 25 and I picked (mainly) my fingers. I can't say it's getting better, but it's not getting worse. I have some tips for you guys out there!

For picking on your face, I find it helps to just press them really hard instead of picking them. It brings pain, which somehow makes me feel relieved and it nulls the feeling to pick.

For picking on arms or legs, wear bracelets, anklets and rings to distract yourself! If you are a guy, rubber bands.

What really helps is just using clear nail polish and drawing a line on your arm! Pick off the nail polish instead! (don't use on your face, though)

For fingers, I find that wearing nail polish and just picking off the nail polish sometimes helps. Also wearing jewelry helps. The thing that helps the most for me tho is ripping paper (if I'm in class). I just sit there and just get little bits of paper and rip them up! I do that so I have something to do with my hands so I don't pick them.

I've told a couple of friends about dermatillomania, and they gave me cray suggestions like covering the area with duct tape and gluing my fingers together. I'm glad I have you fellow *dermatillomaniacs* on my side!

I hope I helped! Give me feedback and stuff. I realized most people tell their stories on here and hope for an answer. And no one has given feedback. I hope I changed things for the better.

anon90002
Post 29

I'm 18 and I have been dealing with this for as long as possible. I deal with skin picking, self inflicting nail biting and a distorted body image. no treatment, no help. I'm on my own.

anon89594
Post 28

I am so glad to have found this site and now I don't feel so alone and like I'm the only one. I have been picking since I was about eight. I'm now 22 and it seems to be getting worse. I agree 100 percent with the "not being able to stop until the object of my attention is gone."

I can literally sit in the bathroom for hours and pick and pick and the thing is I love to see it bleed. I like it more when it hurts a little bit, but when I'm all tranced out, I don't even feel it hurting. Does anyone else feel the need to make it bleed?

I don't know what's wrong with me but I literally thing the blood looks so cool, the more blood the better. Don't get me wrong; I am not a sadistic person at all, in fact, I'm going to school for nursing. Maybe it's just the medical stuff that I enjoy seeing?

The part of my body i have been picking at for the past few months is on my upper chest above my breasts and parts that the scars will be covered. My skin starts out as a small blackhead I want to squeeze out. Then it turns red after i get it out. Then I pick at that. So it starts out the size of the end of a pin and now it is this huge wound the size of a quarter.

As much as I know how I don't want that scar there and everything and I don't want to get it infected, I can't stop. I already go to therapy once a week and see a psychiatrist. What can I do? Why is this happening to me?

Thanks, and good luck to all of us picking sufferers.

anon89374
Post 27

I am 29 and have been picking my arms, chest and shoulders since I was 16. I thought it was just me and then I had just issues with picking when I was nervous and stressed.

Today I decided to have a look on the net and I am now thinking it's a little more after I have read some information on dermatillomania. It's scary because I go into like a trance state and don't realise I am doing it until someone tells me to stop.

I need help because my skin is so damaged and I pick it even more because I want it to look perfect when now I have realised what I am doing is making it worse.

anon88729
Post 26

I need help! I pick on my gums, elbows, legs,and feet. can't seem to stop for anything!

anon85049
Post 25

I need help! No one understands me; they all look at me weird. I pick and bite around my fingers, thumbs, and cuticles until it bleeds uncontrollably, and whenever there is a little bit of skin hanging, I immediately pick it, pulling a lot of skin with it!

I've had it since grade two, and I'm thirteen and in grade seven now. I try telling my friends, but they just say stop and that's it. I can't just stop! It's not as easy as that! I've tried hundreds of times but the urge is too great!

I also pick my toes and slightly my scalp, but those are never noticeable. With my fingers though, that's a whole other story. I can't hold peoples hands, or even show them my hands! Also, what I'm so scared about is that I'm only 13. what about when I'm older? The scars will be horrible!

I'm scared! I always look at people's hands and I've never seen anyone else who does it! It makes me feel ashamed, but I can't help it. my mom is no help either. she just tells me to stop and leaves it at that.

I can't handle the stress! How can I stop? Please help me, please!

I would appreciate if you had some stories to share with me so I know I'm not alone, but advice helps. Please, I'm desperate, it's taking control of my life. People Look at me funny and I hate it! Please post.

anon84061
Post 24

Well, listening to all your messages, it somewhat makes me feel better to know that other people have this issue as well. i have been picking since i was about six.

i remember wearing white tights and having a huge blood stain on it and having to wear them while at dinner. i am now 40 years old and still pick at my scabs. i rub my hands on my body to feel for any bumps and if there is one, i will start picking. they start out small and then end up huge.

i totally agree with the 'trance' stage as well, because when i am picking, i am totally calm, determined and in my own little world. my husband just can't believe it because i am so worried about the way i look, yet i pick and have scars that are very unattractive.

My close friends know about this disorder but it is extremely upsetting to actually watch people look at my skin in disgust. has anyone tried to see a hypnotist? would that work? i have no idea but i need to do something!

anon81486
Post 22

i do it too. i get like ingrown hairs or little zits or something that seems like a blackhead especially on my legs from wearing pants too many days in a row because i have been up smoking meth and working on paintings or some other crazy crap. and i will keep the same jeans on for three days or whatever.

anyway i will get a bunch of these little bumps and it's like a little garden. i will get out the tweezers or like an exacto knife (swear to god) and basically cut them all out which causes me to have a million little tiny sores on me.

and the messed up part about it is that even after you cut it out or get the ingrown hair to come from under the skin, often it still feels like there is something in there and there is its like a waxy cysty type substance but it is impossible literally to get it out without cutting the hell out of yourself.

i don't like doing it but i don't want those bumps all over me. it's not really noticeable on me because i am pretty tan and stuff but believe me, I'm just as bad as anyone else with the picking. stupid. really, at least for me what i need to do is stop using meth number one, then work on my personal hygiene which often lacks for a couple days while i am "busy" on my missions.

anyway, i know that my drug use is to blame for my problem in this area. so that makes it me getting what i deserve.

i do feel very sorry for all the other people who have posted on this site and have done nothing to deserve the suffering that they have been undergoing. well, good luck everybody!

anon79667
Post 21

@ #20: Maybe you have KP. That's one of the reasons I pick, because I've had that since I was a kid, I've been SI-ing in one way or another since I was eight.

anon75098
Post 20

I can relate. I have little bumps on my upper arms that look like pimples but i don't really know if they are. I love to pick them and when they pop, which is rare, it feels so good to hear and see the white stuff come out. Then it bleeds because i squeeze hard and more than once.

My arms are covered with scabs. It is so embarrassing but i can't stop. I also pick at my scalp too, and when i get a big chunk of dead skin i feel so satisfied but then continue to pick for more.

i know i do this more when i am stressed. i need help or my arms will be so scarred by the time i'm 25.

anon67662
Post 19

I have this same issue. I pick at scabs on my head, sometimes until blood is dripping from my head. After the scab is picked off, I just like to watch it fall off my head, onto a black sheet of paper (or anything that I can visibly see it fall onto.) I will do this for sometimes the whole class period, just watching the scabs I've picked fall off my head.

I know what i'm doing is strange, and that very few people do it. But after the scab falls off my head, I feel like a load has been pulled off. I feel a ton of stress being relieved. I don't pick at scabs anywhere else on my body, although they do exist. I have tried picking at scabs on my arms, but it doesn't give me the gratification like it does when I pick at my scalp.

I would also like to state, my mom had this as a child. Although, not as severe, I believed this carried over via genes.

anon64635
Post 18

I'm 15 and i have this problem. I pick all around my fingernails and on the backs of my hands. I am constantly doing this and often scratch so hard i end up bleeding with what look like huge gashes in my arm, and it's even worse when this happens in the middle of a class.

I used to scratch all over, but now i managed to concentrate it only onto my hands and arms. I feel horrible afterwards, but when I'm doing it I'm totally blissful, and if i try to refrain from doing it i get absolutely manic and feel myself losing control.

I've tried all kinds of behavioural therapies (i tried substitution of eating marmite but all that happened was i became hooked on marmite and still scratched) and am reduced to wearing gloves most of the time.

I need help, but the only solution seems to be behaviour therapy or some kind of drugs, which i don't want. Does anyone have anything they do to stop?

anon62096
Post 17

i have done this ever since i can remember. it first started when i would pick at my scabs on my legs and arms and now have scars because of it, and I would also bite all my nails down.

When i was in the sixth grade i was very stressed and i would pick at my face and found relief in that and recently i pick at the bumps in my legs because it releases all my stress.

i feel like my mom did it when she was young so i think i get it from her and sometimes if i feel like i don't have anything to pick at i will pick at my sister's face and know i feel bad because she also picks at her face and i don't want her to be like me. she is only one year younger than me, though.

anon60604
Post 16

My problem started in my early twenties when I started to notice tiny whiskers on my face and neck. I would tweeze and then realize that another hair would pop up. In a short time I was 'tweezing' every other day to rid myself of a whisker or two.

Eventually I noticed an ingrown whisker, and instead of just leaving it alone I started using pins, or needles to dig them out. Needless to say my right jaw was scarred by my late twenties then in a cruel twist of fate when I turned thirty the left side of my jaw starting sprouting whiskers. Sometimes I feel cursed. Recently, I made a terrible mark on my left jaw where an ingrown whisker that already has scar tissue around it is repeatedly torturing me.

I am very good at covering the marks and scars with high-end facial treatments, hundreds of dollars worth of prescription skin care products, and very good mineral make up.

I have even convinced my Doctor to give me antibiotics more than once because I know when one of my 'spots' is infected from repeated picking. All I want to do is be free of my inability to stop picking at the same spots on my face over and over again and I hate doing this to myself.

anon58425
Post 15

I'm 21 years old. Along with many of us here I've suffered from picking at my skin since the onset of acne in middle school or so. It was the worst when my acne was the worst, freshman, sophomore and junior years of high school.

As I grew older and my hormones began to balance and when I decided to stop taking birth control pills which kept my body from finding its own hormonal balance my acne began to clear and it has been easier not to pick.

Talking to my sister and friends about my problem has also helped and now I pick rarely- but still pick from time to time. I have large pores on my face and it's easy for them to appear like blackheads and sometimes tempt me. I just try to remind myself not to and reassert control. Unfortunately lately small blackheads around my nipples can sometimes tempt me to pick and it's very hard to resist as this area is visible only to me.

In addition to this and far worse, I pick at the skin around the edges of my nails. The left side of my left thumb is the worst. If I become highly stressed I can pick at these until they bleed. I have scar tissue around my fingernails and although recently I've been doing better, this seems to be much harder for me to control than ever my skin was.

It's good that we're all talking about it though, maybe it will help us. I've found that trying to divert the urge to pick into an urge to shower or moisturize can help- developing cleansing rituals that aren't harmful and accepting and loving my body.

I love all of you and have faith that we'll overcome this.

anon55638
Post 14

I have severe ocd. I also have eczema and i pick my scalp and ankles. Only reading these comments I have realised I have another skin picking problem. I pick my scalp and then gather all the skin/scabs together as I find it rewarding to see what I have taken off my scalp and feel more clean. At first I just thought it was eczema so I am pleased to learn I can get help!

anon55199
Post 13

For me it's not just limited to one area. I will pick at anything that isn't smooth. I don't feel there is a reason I do it other than boredom at times. It's a compulsion.

If I don't keep myself preoccupied with things I will find myself picking at everything. Often when I have insomnia issues I will pick at myself in bed while I can't sleep.

I always thought it was weird, but I don't feel like I can pinpoint a specific reason for my behavior.

anon49892
Post 12

I do the same. I pick my scabs and after must eat them. I know this is some weirdo crap but it just feels so good and I don't feel I can stop. I have been doing it since I was six. I am now 23 and it is becoming progressively worse. I totally agree with the trance. It's like when I pick I am totally in a world fixated on that particular scab and just in the moment. I can find anything on the net that will help me. I thought self help info for problems like this would be free? I actually wish this was never an issue but now I am starting to see the payment for this problem in a big way.

anon48368
Post 11

I have the same thing. I will pick at anything that is rough or abnormal. Dead skin, scabs, etc. Don't know why. I empathize with the piece about the "trance state." When I'm picking, I'll sit there, unable to give up until the object of my attention is removed.

anon47908
Post 10

i've been picking at my gums non-stop! what can i do to either stop picking or begin healing my gums? i don't have any noticeable damage. this has just been a recent issue and i'm 28. my smile is amazing. i'd hate to have to hide it due to gum receding or whatever comes due to gum picking/gouging. i heard it may be related to a sinus issue as well! please help!

anon44703
Post 9

I remember distinctly being eight years old when I started picking at my skin. It started with just having an utter disgust for the look and feeling of scabs, and so I'd pull them off. I'm 26 now and find myself still doing it constantly-- mostly in places that are usually covered, but it often prevents me from wanting to wear certain clothing because it will show the spots. It's an everyday habit, but I find myself less in control of it when I am in an unstable emotional state. I grew up with a rageaholic father and now face dealing with similar characteristics in myself and my husband (who, by the way, is the main person I am embarrassed to allow to see my spots). My parents even took me to a dermatologist when I was a kid and made me do these expensive treatments on my arms for a while. It may have helped the skin, but it didn't help the habit.

anon41447
Post 8

Everyone seem to me picking at their scalps? I pick at the tips of my fingers. On the top. Not at the nail. All around and I've done it since before I can remember. I just can't stop! But it doesn't hurt. I guess I've done it so much it becomes numb.

anon37802
Post 7

though my skin picking is not that severe, i have been picking scabs and my scalp since i was little. i would take a pen and dig into my head until it caused scabs that i could pick. things aren't as bad now that im 16 but its still weird. my mother asks me why my mosquito bites last so long, and its because i pick them, so they never have any time to heal. how do you cure this???

anon37121
Post 6

ive known for a very long time ive had a "picking" problem. only more recently when i was in a long term relationship did it truly become an issue as i began to pick at my boyfriends scabs and pimples(etc). im a manic depressive with obsessive compulsive tendency. when i was younger i would pick scabs but now i pick at anything possible including my scalp legs arms or anywhere something may "need" picked, even now i cant help but reach for a scab on my head.. my problem seems to be getting worse.i think i cant stop because of my past cutting, i was told im addicted to the pain.. could the urge to cut, and fighting it, be causing my intense compultion to pick?

anon31362
Post 5

My mother came to me yesterday and told me that she thinks I have this disorder. I laughed at her, thinking she was just over-reacting. However, I just read this article and I realize I have every symptom. I pick at zits and things on my arms, face and chest. I also think I may have BDD and I used to pick at my scalp when I was younger. I think I have some anger management and depression issues, but I don't want to tell my mom. I'm a teenager and my scabs are embarrassing enough. I feel that I don't need outside help. What should I do?

anon25500
Post 4

I have suffered from skin-picking since I was a small child. The area that suffers the most is the inside of my mouth and my lips. I have a constant urge to bite or be chewing. This becomes confusing when I have to distinguish hunger from urge to bit something. I remember as a teenager being embarrassed to kiss members of the opposite sex because my lips were cracked all the time and I could not stop biting. I have tried to stop, but it makes me feel like I am going to go crazy, it feels so unnatural not to be biting. I don't ever see this going away, and it makes me come off as a constantly nervous and insecure person. I refuse to take anti-depressants and wonder what else could help me. When I was a child, I had scars all over the joints in my hands, and they were always puffy and sore. I finally got over that but have been unable to beat the disorder in full. My gums are destroyed.

anon23004
Post 3

ive had onycophagia for as long as i can remember. i started picking on my skin a bit after i hit puberty. its taken 6 years for my condition to get noticeable. my skin used to be flawless, i just always thought if i could just get rid of that one occasional pimple i could learn to love my appearance better. iv learned after 6 years, theyre all just excuses. i want out.

anon21197
Post 2

I, too, from childhood to present, suffer from the urge of scalp-picking, I'm to the point that I worry that I will get bald spots later on?? I am considered very attractive, but I am ashamed that I do this, I also pick at the skin on my fingers. My father says that my estranged biological mother had the same thing. I wonder if this is hereditary or a learned habit??

anon19355
Post 1

so i have been picking at my scalp for a while since i was maybe 11 or 12... and i always thought it was a parasite problem but when i bought all the lice combs and shampoo and stuff i still didn't stop and now i have noticed that it never itches i just pick i would also pick at the dry skin on my arms and i when i get zits its rare i pick at them as well but mostly my scalp...well my real question is would your environment have something to do with it? cause i was raised by methamphetamine users and manufactures... my mother is the one that had the "meth bug" issue and she'd would spend hours picking at her forehead with razors. she'd even go to the extreme of picking at us... do you think it's possible that watching her doing that at my young age could have caused the issue i am dealing with now. childhood habits?

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