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Dermotillomania (obsessive skin picking)

(39 Posts)
tory79 Sun 12-May-13 10:21:44

Wasn't sure if this would be better off in mental health, but just wondered if there were any fellow sufferers out there who cared to share their experiences or generally chat about it.

My problem is my legs. They are scarred to fuck.

Queenofknickers Wed 15-May-13 14:00:57

I do this too - I pick skin around my fingers and especially thumbs and chew my cheeks. I've notices I don't do it on holiday - I'm pretty sure it's stress related. Doing it constantly today as anxious about going back to work next week. I suppose the best thing is to deal with the underlying anxiety....

MimsyBorogroves Wed 15-May-13 12:54:17

I have itchy skin anyway, but if I scratch until there's a scab I will compulsively pick at it so it never heals.

I also bite the hard skin around my fingers.

I've done it since I was little, no idea how to make myself stop. If I could get rid of the itch it'd be better, as I don't pick unless there is a scab.

Wednesbury Wed 15-May-13 12:40:16

I'm another one. DH really notices it and is very blunt about it and tells me to stop, which I am grateful for, as often I haven't realised I am doing it. I don't tend to do it in front of DCs as I am generally too busy and my hands are full when they are around, it is when I am sitting still working. It was better when I worked in an office as I did try to think about it and not do it in public.

Both DCs have a tendency to scratch at themselves though when sitting still, so I do wonder how genetic it is. DS (5) scratches at his hands and picks into his nails, DD (3) scratches at her belly button and collar bones. My sister has admitted she does similar things (scratches at scalp) but mine has been quite bad lately, I had three scars on my face recently. To try and help stop I try to think of my face as a 'no fly zone' and keep my hands away. The mental equivalent of a dog collar!

I do feel very silly about it, but have little doubt that it is to do with anxiety/depression. I have read a bit about it and for me it is to do with a sort of need to smooth away imperfections.

Niknakpaddywhack Wed 15-May-13 12:19:07

I do this too sad and I am so embarrassed by it but still it doesn't stop me. My nails and fingers are slightly better now (just around one thumbnail) and my face is much better since I have found something that stops me getting spots in the first place, but my legs (ingrown hairs) and my feet are terrible - it hurts to walk today sad. Why do I do it??

I have often wondered whether hypnotherapy would help- but I think I would be too ashamed to admit my problem.

amigababy thank you for the book recommendation - I will definitely order it.

5madthings Sun 12-May-13 20:49:25

Another picker, i have eczema as well so its not good. Mainy my hands, elbows and scalp at thd moment. Every now and then i manage to stop and my skin heals but as soon as i get an eczema flare up or dry skin etc i just cant leave it alone.

Its stress rekated and my cpn said its a form.of self harm. No idea how to stop.

OrangeLily Sun 12-May-13 20:44:32

I think DH has this. I didn't know it was actually a thing. I just asked him if he was picking his arms whilst watching the football earlier and he looked a bit guilty but claimed not to remember.

I know some of you have said bio-oil would the palmers cream help?

ChasingStaplers Sun 12-May-13 18:35:39

Me too.
I pick my nails, bite cuticles until they bleed, pick at spots relentlessly, pick my toenails, pick at ingrowing hairs, scratch my scalp until it scabs.
Sometimes I pull my eyebrow hairs and eyelashes out.

Pretty sure most of it comes from anxiety in social situations and as a consequence of being in an abusive relationship. Wish I could stop sad

pipsqueakz Sun 12-May-13 18:32:55

Ah I'm not alone! I'm bad with my legs arms and head im just as bad with my husband. I do have ocd. I'm gonna sound like a nut job but its a clean problem I have. Like dead skin and dirt shouldn't be there. I've been like it since I was young. My mum took me to drs and mum would tell me if I didn't stop she would wrap my arms and legs in bandages.

ouryve Sun 12-May-13 18:30:41

DS1 goes through phases of it. He has ASD and if he has a scratch or a scab, never lets it heal and often chews the skin around it, if he can get at it.

PotteringAlong Sun 12-May-13 18:29:21

I do. On my scalp.

MoreBoober Sun 12-May-13 18:27:24

Me too hmm
Former finger biter but never been able to stop picking and chewing the skin around my fingers. Go through good and bad periods. I didn't realise there was a name for it. I try to avoid it but using a filing board and filing round my fingers so I'm less tempted to start picking. I find the habit stressful in its self and once I'm started its hard to stop!

DowntonTrout Sun 12-May-13 18:05:41

shock this is me too.

I rip the skin aound my Fingers til they bleed and I can make a tiny spot last for weeks. Ive always presumed it was a nervous habit but I didn't know there was a name for it.

Slavetothechild Sun 12-May-13 17:59:47

Omg I co this pick spots on my face until they bleed and twice the size they started as. Also the skin around my fingers just can't stop !! Thought I must be the only one smile

amigababy Sun 12-May-13 17:45:04

and as I did it when I was driving too I would focus on having both hands on the steering wheel to keep them out of mischief.

amigababy Sun 12-May-13 17:43:16

chebella DD is 17 and gets very self conscious if we remark on her picking, or nail biting.
She wants to do psychology at university a nd be a clinical psychologicist . I might try to get her to read my book as part of her "studies " lol.

When I stopped before I didn't say I was "trying to stop " I said "I am stopping biting my mouth " and I became very aware of my hands moving to my face, as that was the precursor to the next action. Really focussing on your hands and keeping them still, or thinking STOP when they move to the face ( or legs or feet etc) helps to stop the action in it's tracks.

HellesBelles396 Sun 12-May-13 17:28:38


Skin around nails until it bleeds
Skin on feet until it bleeds
Spots until they bleed (back snd chest particularly scarred)
Dry skin
Lumpy skin
Skin that looks different to other skin.

I do it most when stressed and I hate doing it. I think the therapist is right, I would not do it if I felt good about myself.

justabigdisco Sun 12-May-13 16:50:00

Oh yes my DD is 16m and I'm desperate not to pass it on to her, but I do sometimes do it in front of her. Must stop...

bonzo77 Sun 12-May-13 16:26:30

Feet with me too, mostly. And spots and ingrowns, anything really. It's only really my feet that are unsightly now. DH does it too, though to a lesser extent. DS is 3 and has started on nails. All my family do it, it was only really as an adult that I realised not everyone does! hmm

tory79 Sun 12-May-13 16:19:38

I never do it in front of dh, but I do do it in front of ds sad I am desperately trying to stop that as he's 19m now and might start copying.

It is definitely stress related but its also just an ingrained habit now I think.

justabigdisco Sun 12-May-13 16:13:39

I do this. Definitely linked to stress. If I've had a bad day I can just FEEL all the blocked pores/blemishes on my face and I have to get to a mirror as soon as I can hmm
Good idea about getting someone to point it out. Although my husband does tell me to stop sometimes and I just get arsey with him hmm

chebella Sun 12-May-13 16:10:08

Well, if nothing else we're not alone!

ariane5 Sun 12-May-13 16:06:09

I do this. My fingers look like they have been in a shredder and they hurt where I pick the skin round my nails. Have done it since I was a child.

I also picked every c pox scab off when I was 9 and am scarred and recently picked my heel and then couldn't walk as had no skin left on bottom of my foot.

I just can't stop doing it sad

PurpleThing Sun 12-May-13 16:04:46

Interesting. I do this too (my face is a mess). My ds is tiny but he picks away at any scab he has and scratches my moles when breastfeeding. It really seems like he can't help himself rather than he's copying me.

chebella Sun 12-May-13 16:02:45

Amiga is your daughter old enough for you to address this with her through sharing your own mouth-chewing? Maybe you can 'watch' each other, invent some reward you can 'work towards'?

chebella Sun 12-May-13 15:59:45

Thanks Amiga, it's easy to feel ashamed of these things but there has to be a way to break cycles by asking for 'support' - even the type of support that is a 'stop it!' ( normally I don't take 'advice' well from DH let alone a curt albeit friendly 'order' but I hate my scarred feet and the behavior that causes it).how old is your DD? Must be hard to witness for you Amiga.

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