Skin Picking - A Different Form of Self Harm

Discussion in 'Self Harm & Substance Abuse' started by Tonks, Oct 26, 2010.

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  1. Tonks

    Tonks Active Member

    I was slightly curious...does anyone else harm themselves by picking at their skin? Officially it is called dermatillomania, a close cousin of trichotillomania (hair pulling). But my deep depression leads me to use my nails to gouge at my skin. It never hurts. Sometimes I don't realize how badly I've done it until there is quite a bit of blood (combined with poor clotting doesn't help). However, it isn't easy to hide for me, since I target my face. It looks like bad acne most of the time, unless I am having to staunch a bad bleeder.

    I guess it is kind of less obvious than cutting. What looks like acne is easier to conceal than cut marks. It brings me relief, until I feel shame for doing it. Most people have no idea what it really is. When I know I'm going to be seeing family, I scour my face with something abrasive to get rid of the scabs and smooth it out. Nobody asks questions or are any wiser.
  2. assek

    assek Well-Known Member

    well i dont know if this counts, but i scratch myself with nails quite hard that causes red marks and slightly open skin... i do it because it i see what has been done and it hurts, but it usually dissappears after a few days unlike cutting, which scars.
  3. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    i do this especially when i am sad anxious angry trying hard not too anymore but like you say sometimes don't even realize im doing it
  4. ThornThatNeverHeals

    ThornThatNeverHeals Well-Known Member

    yes- i pick at my fingernails, thank goodness nobody relaly notices too much.
  5. Madam Mim

    Madam Mim Well-Known Member

    Hi Tonks, I have both dermatillomania and trichotillomania. My dermatillomania appears to be an extension of my trichotillomana, and more an ICD than self harm, although my sister's dermatillomania is much worse. She's lucky in a way because she picks her toenails the most, so people don't see, but she definitely uses it as self harm. Like you, she doesn't even notice until there's blood everywhere.

    Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is usually very successful in treating ICDs, so that might be worth trying. Other than that, I can only suggest wearing gloves, so you can't pick, or put plasters/band aids on your thumbs, as this makes it hard too.

  6. Matt93

    Matt93 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I do this too. Though I do, so it like takes the first few layers of skin off my arms and I leave it, because it's sore, and doesn't bleed.

    I then wait till it scabs overs and I pull the scars off, because that hurts, and I bleed too. So yeah
  7. BrokenSpirit

    BrokenSpirit Active Member

    I bite my nails obsessively, even down to the this considered self harm or could it just be an OCD issue?
  8. Madam Mim

    Madam Mim Well-Known Member

    BrokenSpirit, this is called 'onychophagia' - compulsive nail biting. Like dermatillomania and trichotillomania, it is classified as an Impulse Control Disorder. I personally also consider all three to be a form of self harm, but many people disagree with that perspective.

    CBT would probably be very effective for onychophagia as well.

  9. BrokenSpirit

    BrokenSpirit Active Member

    What is CBT?
  10. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    It is a type of therapy cognitive behavior therapy it is called
  11. itmahanh

    itmahanh Senior Member & Antiquities Friend

    guilty. i pick off my toenails and dont realize until ite bleeding. usually when really anxious or soetimes even when watching an intense movie at home or things like that. i dont really have nails leftr more like scar tissue but still pik at it. my hands too. any little piece that is dry or cracked is a target. gets really painful eventualy. im 46 and have being doing these things since i was a young girl. to those of you that can... get help oplease. it gets really bad eventualy.
  12. Tonks

    Tonks Active Member

    I am personally afraid to go to a therapist for cognitive behavioral therapy since I had a really negative experience with the last therapist I went to. Sometimes putting a light lotion on my face is enough of a texture change to make me not want to pick. At least when I knit, I can't pick, since both hands are occupied.

    I used to pull my hair back in middle school, but stopped by high school. It was shameful, lying to my parents who just thought it was alopecia and sent me to a dermatologist to figure out what was causing it. I could never admit I was pulling out my beautiful blond hair bit by bit. It all came back, much darker and wavy though.
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