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DS, aged 8, turning into a compulsive picker - making a real mess of himself

(13 Posts)
Amphisbaena Wed 12-Feb-14 11:38:42

I was a bit shocked yesterday when I caught a glimpse of his bottom. He has made a real mess of it, 3 big sore looking scabs and loads of smaller spots he has picked at,created. I knew he was a bit of a spot/scab picker, but this is nasty. Apparently he does it at school when no one is looking (ie in the loo etc) From how he describes the urge he is sounding pretty compulsive sad What can I do to try to nip this in the bud before it becomes a real problem? (If it isnt already. Has also 2 very red leg sores that are looking nasty, poss infected.)

LunchLadyWannabe Wed 12-Feb-14 11:42:25

Is the skin itchy thats making him pick at it?

Is he an eczema sufferer?

tiktok Wed 12-Feb-14 11:42:40

Poor little man sad and poor you sad

This is a real matter for concern....initially, you could speak to the school nurse. She will know the range of support in your area, and in most areas she could make the referral to CAMHS if you both agree it would help. She might advise the GP, too, to check for infection.

pancakesfortea Wed 12-Feb-14 11:46:31

We had this on my son's face. Needs a trip to the GP. The scratching will cause inflammation which will create more itching and so on. It took a long time for us to crack but anti itch creams etc really helped.

Amphisbaena Wed 12-Feb-14 11:47:21

He does get eczema but that tends to be the elbows/knees, and seems ok at the mo. He seems to be able to find things to pick ie on his bottom a lot of the smallest spots just look like pores he has irritated enough to pick. He never used to have a particularly spotty bum anyway! He will of course pick anything that presents an opportunity, so bites/cuts etc all get attention.

I think I find the secretive side of it worrying, and dont want to make it worse by making an issue out of it.

Amphisbaena Sat 15-Feb-14 09:40:23

Bump.

I now appear to have made things worse by talking about it with him. He is really upset because he says he cant stop picking, the urge is too strong. He keeps asking me how to break a really bad habit and Im not sure what to suggest sad I have read around a bit and this doesnt seem that common in children, and is considered a form of self harm in adults. I dont know what to do next.

CoteDAzur Sat 15-Feb-14 09:50:13

It isn't much different than compulsive nail biting, which is common in children.

I had a similar tendency to pick at mosquito bites, scabs etc as a child. Cut his nails very short & file them down to the skin. Clean, apply cream, and cover the spots/wounds he is picking at.

Hopefully this will be sorted before teenage spots come in.

oin Sat 15-Feb-14 10:01:07

As well as all the advice about creams and GP-is it worth trying the elastic band trick as well?
Put an elastic band around his wrist and get him to ping it when he gets the urge to pick.
This works like a stress ball, but is easier to carry around. It may be enough to distract him and break the habit.

murphy36 Sat 15-Feb-14 10:01:46

Elastic band around the wrist. When he gets the urge to pick, he pings the band. Works for adults too.

Amphisbaena Sat 15-Feb-14 10:07:52

Oh ok smile that sounds nice and easy! Will try that. Thanks both.

Amphisbaena Sat 15-Feb-14 10:09:36

I am using cream too btw. Not sure about doc yet since DS was a bit aghast at that suggestion. He is such a worrier and I am trying to proceed in a low key way atm. Will see how it goes.

dulwichparkrunner Sat 15-Feb-14 20:12:38

Very interested to read this post as my nearly 10 year old son is also compulsively picking his lower arms, with about 10 cigarette-burn type marks.

He is also an eczema sufferer but that's on his hands not I his arms. He also says the urge to pick is very strong and says he does it at school "when I'm thinking".
We are trying the following which we are 3 days into and so far so good. 1. I sent off for a variety of stress balls. Good for squeezing and picking. (He really likes them and says it helps). 2. Unknown to me (but fine! ) my mum photographed his arms - he was shocked by seeing the pictures and they counted up the marks and she promised him a pound per mark that has healed up in ten days time.

I am keeping my fingers crossed this works although experience tells me that just as we think one habit has gone another one presents itself eg in past years we have had hair twiddling, surreptitious licking of metal ( pipes/swings etc) , chewing of shirt collars.

We try not to make too much fuss about these things as they do pass (so far). He's a very happy, confident child doing well at school so not sure where or why he does it.

He does set himself v high standard at school always wanting to be the best - so I wonder if that might be linked.

Mummyjetsetter Sat 15-Feb-14 22:43:56

How odd! My almost 4 yr old ds is a picker. It started when we got him off dummy's aged almost 3 and the pointy bit on his top lip got dry so he picked it all the time. After a few weeks we bribed him with a trip to get something from the toy shop if he stopped for 2 weeks, he's never done it since. Now he's been nail biting for a few months so we aside 2 nail cuts and he can go and choose something from the toy shop, we've had 1 cut now so if he keeps it up another week he's cracked it. Think it's just getting them to be aware of it as habits are automatic and done without thinking. x

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