compulsive skin picking

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by qteallex, Mar 10, 2015.

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  1. qteallex

    qteallex Active Member

    or dermatillomania in the previous DSM-
    I freaking ravage my scalp, not to make it hurt just because I can't stop-
    I have 5mm-ish round scabs across my scalp and a few on my neck and back, from where I run my fingers along scritching lightly untill I find an imperfection then I go at it untill it's chipped away. then like, the yellow plasma stuff you get on a carpet burn will crust over it so I'll pick that off and it rips the skin around it and over time it gets deeper and becomes a bloody scab which I'll never allow to heal.

    when I was younger I used to pick the skin inside my ears and I can't have been upwards of 9 so this has been a long-term thing (I'm 19 now).

    I don't really care about doing it, it takes time where I just sit there and do it instead of getting up/ starting a task but mostly I hate that other people get annoyed by it. I recently bleached my (short) hair and you could see the blood in my hair and I looked like a mangy dog or something and it kinda woke me to how much damage I do. plus a good friend said how much it annoys them when I scratch in lessons because they can see it out of the corner of their eye and it bugs them and I don't want to be gross but to be honest I just told them to fuck off and will scratch anyway because I can't stop when I don't realise when I've started.

    it's just part of my life so I probably won't seek help - but I'm just wondering who else here has this too?

    *also another note: the bleach in my hair stung so bad it was horrible, made me worried about infections and stuff because I'm always scabby :C
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2015
  2. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    Just something i thought you would like to read
    What is skin picking disorder?
    Skin picking disorder is a disorder where a person:

    Picks their skin over and over again, AND
    The picking is often or bad enough to cause tissue damage AND
    It causes a lot of distress and/or problems with work, social, or other daily activities.

    People with skin picking disorder can (and often do) have other psychological symptoms, like depression and anxiety.

    Do all people who pick their skin have skin picking disorder?
    No. Research has shown that many people pick at their skin from time to time. It is not uncommon for a healthy person to occasionally pick at pimples, scabs, or even healthy skin. Skin picking is not considered a disorder unless it is often and/or bad enough to cause significant distress or problems in other areas of life. Also, other types of health problems like skin conditions, mental retardation, and even drug use/withdrawal may cause people to pick at their skin at times. However, people with primary skin picking disorder do not pick at their skin only because they have these other problems.

    What is a typical skin picking disorder episode like?
    Where, when, and how people pick at skin varies. People can pick skin from one or more parts of the body. Common areas include: face, head, cuticles, back, arms and legs, and hands and feet. People most often pick skin with fingers and fingernails, but people also remove skin in other ways, e.g., by biting, or picking with tools like tweezers or scissors.

    People pick for different reasons. People may pick out of habit or boredom, and, at times, may not even be aware that they are picking. People may also pick in an attempt to cope with negative emotions (e.g., anxiety, sadness, anger) and/or in response to feelings of mounting stress and tension. While picking, people may feel relief. However, feelings of relief are often followed by feelings of shame or guilt. After picking, people discard their skin in different ways. Some people discard the removed skin in the trash or on the floor. Some people eat skin after they have picked it.

    Who suffers with skin picking disorder?
    Skin picking disorder may affect as many as 1 in 20 people. Although it occurs in both men and women, research suggests that skin picking disorder occurs much more often in women. Skin picking can begin in childhood or adulthood.

    What causes skin picking disorder?
    The exact causes of skin picking disorder are unknown. It may be that both biological and environmental factors play a role in skin picking disorder.

    How is skin picking disorder related to OCD?
    Skin picking disorder is currently classified as an impulse control disorder. Skin picking disorder is also sometimes referred to as a “body focused repetitive behavior.” It is also sometimes referred to as an "obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder" (or “OC spectrum disorder”) because it shares features of OCD. For example, people with skin picking disorder pick skin over and over again, often in response to recurrent thoughts about or urges to touch or pick skin. In this way, symptoms of skin picking disorder are similar to those of OCD, which is characterized by urges to do repetitive behaviors (rituals) in response to other types of recurrent thoughts, images, and impulses. Skin picking disorder also shares similarities with other OC spectrum disorders, like trichotillomania (repetitive hair pulling disorder), tic disorders, and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) (an OC spectrum disorder characterized by repetitive thoughts about appearance-related concerns). People with skin picking disorder are more likely than people without it to have OCD and other OC spectrum disorders.

    What are the effects of skin picking disorder?
    Skin picking disorder can hurt a person emotionally, physically, and socially. In addition to feeling shame and embarrassment, people with skin picking disorder can have other psychological problems like depression and anxiety. Skin picking disorder can also interfere with social life, school, and/or work. Mild to severe pain during or after picking; sores, scars, disfigurement; and other medical problems like infections can also occur. In extreme cases, skin picking can cause sores severe enough to require surgery.

    Are there treatments for skin picking?
    Yes. Although more research is needed on treatments for skin picking disorder, some research suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may help with skin picking disorder. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) may also be helpful in treating skin picking disorder. Research also suggests that skin picking may be effectively treated with medications such as SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). SSRIs include fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and escitalopram. Some research suggests that the anti-seizure medicine lamotrigine may also be helpful in treating skin picking disorder. Unfortunately, because many people do not know that there is help for skin picking disorder, many people with the disorder continue to suffer with it.
  3. Emathreal

    Emathreal Member

    I have the same problem. I tend to pick at areas that are sensitive due to a current issue at the time such as an infected hair, pimple, scab, and I get random red raised spots that come up that really are uncomfortable. I usually pick and dig at any of these until I get distracted or the physical pain goes away. Most of the time I pick because I feel pain in the area and want it to stop other times I just see something I don't like and start picking at it. The worst part is, I pick at my face the most. With my face visible all the time you can't avoid seeing the sores and scabs I've made from picking. So I get asked by doctors if I'm on a certain street drug that is popular where I live and the answer is no due to the sores on my face. I also pull out my beard hair, and that makes me look worse with a beard that has an odd shape.
  4. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    I have dealt with this since I was a teenager and got my first pimple. I picked and squeezed at it because I couldnt stand the bump there. And as I developed acne, I continued to squeeze and pick at any imperfection on my skin. Of course, scars developed. :(

    It became a really bad habit that I would survey my skin close up in a mirror, and anything "abnormal" that I could find, I squeezed and picked to try to get rid of it. It also didnt help though that whenever I did get a blemish, it was itchy and irritating, so that made me want to squeeze at them even more until the itch from the blemish was gone. It wasn't actually impulsive at all. It was cause by irritation and wanting that to go away. It always feels better after, but then youre left with permanent scars.

    I have lots of scars from bothering my skin, all over my back, chest and face, but far more on my back. I realized what I was doing to my body and decided to change that habit. So I stopped bothering my skin, but every now and then I still have to catch myself when I feel an itchy spot and run to the mirror.

    Whats also helping is that I finally got the nerve to tell my dermatologist about my problem, and show my scars. Before, I was too ashamed to show that I had a "nasty" habit that made my skin repulsive to look at. But then I figured doctors see all sorts of conditions and injuries and breaks and blood and infections of all sorts, so some scars couldnt be as bad as I thought for a doctor to see.

    I have been taking prescription skin lotion and cream to stop the acne, and that discourages me from wanting to touch my skin because it would be counterintuitive. The doctor and I figured the acne (inflamed by my eczema and sensitive skin) caused irritation which cause the impulse to pick - the same way itching causes an impulse to scratch. It's a skin therapy approach I'm taking, and combined with ending the habit and treating the cause, my skin has gotten clearer. My scars are fading. I can leave the house without covering my face in a gallon of foundation and concealer - which is costly, so Im also saving money.

    I rarely talked about this prior to seeing an episode of My Strange Addiction that someone else was watching. It felt easier to talk about with my doctor, knowing that other people had this problem, that it wasn't some obscure, "nasty" thing, and that it could be treated with persistence, and acceptance that 1) a problem exists, which 2) medicine can help fix and 3) picking cannot help and will continue to make worse and the cycle of it contributing to depression will continue.

    I hope that youre able to face it head on and find treatment the way I did, or maybe even better. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2015
  5. justMe7

    justMe7 Well-Known Member

    Yeah..... do you scratch?

    They are horrible habits. You wouldn't believe what it can disintegrate into. Im scarred for life because of a very very minor scratching habit that developed because of ezcema, but was massively triggered because of proximity to animals. Now it's... well it's my problem. All I'm saying is, control it. Anything to do with scratching or damaging your skin is something to break. If it's habitual, time to create a external habit to transfer to, then deal with why you have a habit.

    look after your body. Trust....
  6. frypan367

    frypan367 Well-Known Member

    Could it be eczema? I had a problem with my eyelashes and it turned out to be eczema.
  7. qteallex

    qteallex Active Member

    thanks for replying, as it turns out I may be on the autism spectrum (assessment pending) so I've done some research on sensory problems and found some stuff that helps for me. I hope your eyelashes are doing ok and thanks again !
  8. silent_chaos

    silent_chaos Well-Known Member

    i have this problem scratching my head constenly. and the skin around my finger nails till they bleed.
  9. Baddy15

    Baddy15 Member

    You bet!

    I have a problem with letting scabs heal on their own. It began when I was in late elementary school or early middle school years. It later turned into one of those things where I'd actually get happy knowing that a new "hobby" was beginning to present itself when I got hurt or mosquito bites. I never do it in front of people though. Too embarrassed. Instead I tell people crazy medical reasons for why my scars never seem to heal. Little do they know that I pick at and pick at it until the scar becomes too smooth and dark as a permanent reminder of what I did to myself. Ugh.

    I think my stems from anxiety or OCD tendencies but who knows. I will never tell a doctor. Too ashamed.
  10. Tiger

    Tiger Well-Known Member

    I don't have this. But whenever I see an imperfection on my skin, usually acne, I just HAVE to pick at it. I KNOW it will get worse and scar me but its kind of addicting in a gross way, not to mention I have a habit of trying to spite my future self.

    I was wondering if this is related: Sometimes I get what I call the 'irritable bugs'. Its supposed to be some kind of anxiety thing. When I get them I feel itchy all over, so much so that I start to roll around, fidget in an extreme way and start to harm myself (dragging nails across my skin, punching myself, pinching myself, biting my lips etc.). Not only that, but everything else irritates me too. Lack of noise, noise; presence of people, no people; the way I look; the way someone talks; the way I'm positioning my body, so on so forth. EVERYTHING irritates me.

    I am very good at masking how I feel so luckily when this happens at school I am able to mainly suppress it. But I usually end up missing lessons to go and cry in a toilet stall because I'm just so frustrated. I don't know how to cope with it. If its bad it leads to full on panic or anxiety attacks. I used to have waist long hair but I cut it all in one go because of the itch I felt on my scalp.

    I don't want to feel it. Its awful and feels horrible and I hate it. But I don't know how to get rid of it :(
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