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Help with stopping scratching/picking in 8 year old

(8 Posts)
Spikeinhiscoat Fri 05-Feb-16 08:35:50

Ds is 8 and scratches at the skin on his face so that he ends up with scabs. He'll leave them for a day or two so that they start to heal, then pick at them again, so they look raw. It's getting worse in that at first it was only one or two, but now there are about half a dozen. We made a deal last week that if he left them alone for a week he could get a computer game he wanted (he didn't have enough Christmas money left for it, so we agreed to pay the difference if he left his face alone), but he didn't last two days. I'm worried they might get infected, or leave scars, and I've tried to explain that to him, but he doesn't seem bothered. I've asked him why he does it, but he doesn't know. What can I try next? He's a bit old for a sticker chart (especially as his younger brother has just gone back to one), but I'm considering saying he can't play on his console on days when his face is red. Any ideas what we should be doing?

Seeline Fri 05-Feb-16 09:23:29

I think you really need to try and found out why he does it.
Does he have allergies/eczema?
Is his skin dry/chapped/rough?
could it be itching for any other reason? If so, then treat.

When is he scratching? Is it because he is bored/concentrating/tired etc. Try to prevent the situation.

Is he anxious/worried/stressed?

Once he has scratched, I would use Savlon to help prevent infection, and also keep the scabs soft which makes it harder to pick again.

He may have just developed a 'habit' which can be very hard to break. I speak as a nail biter - a habit started at about 18 months, and despite numerous attempts to stop, still bite at 48.

steppemum Fri 05-Feb-16 09:30:36

this is really interesting as dd tends to do this. In her case it usually starts with something, often a bite, and she cannot leave it alone, so it heals and is picked and heals etc for weeks and weeks and she now has several samll red scars on her face from 'spots' that have been there for months before they finally healed.

I haven't managed to stop her, but I have managed to lessen it.
One thing we did was put sudocream on it morning and evening. The reason is this was the only cream that didn't make her complain. It also stopped them getting as sore and infected. And it stays on!
She did it with spots on her legs too (much much worse) and we put on cream and plasters, and at school I put her in tights, or long socks, that helped a lot.

Elisheva Fri 05-Feb-16 09:30:52

It's really hard to stop picking as you do it subconsciously so he will need 'external' help to monitor if he is picking until he breaks the habit. Cut his nails really really short and get him a pair of cotton gloves to wear - they will make it difficult to pick and serve as a tactile reminder not to.
Make sure his skin isn't itchy. And then praise/reward him for small achievements.

Spikeinhiscoat Fri 05-Feb-16 10:09:07

He says it isn't itchy, and he doesn't generally have dry skin. I think it's a habit that he's got into, often not really aware of what he's doing. I've asked him what he thinks would help him to stop, and he wasn't sure, so we're going to try an incentive jar (to differentiate from his younger brother's sticker chart) and will see how that goes

WalkingBlind Sat 06-Feb-16 05:23:23

I have a condition called dermotillomania, it started when I was very very young and sounds a lot like what you are going through with DS. My DM tried to punish or use incentives (which doesn't work unfortunately) but didn't seek doctor's help and I wish she had as I still have it now at the age of 25 but seeking help for myself via counselling/CBT etc.

The only way I would describe it is, it feels like there is something underneath the skin that I need to get out. Could you maybe ask him if he feels like he's picking a spot no-one else can see? Once the scab is there then that cycle of picking usually continues until it scars.

Have you noticed him pulling out any hair/eyelashes? Sometimes the two things can come as a pair. I know I have a tendency to pull hairs as well.

It almost feels like an instinct rather than a habit, my DM has always called it a 'bad habit' but it's not like biting your nails, etc. It would drive me mad not to do it.

Maybe a quick Google to see if it fits your situation or a chat with the GP? Best of luck with DS flowers

WalkingBlind Sat 06-Feb-16 05:26:15

I also agree with using Savlon by the way, when they are soft or have cream on they aren't as tempting to pick and it helps with the germs transferred from under the nails. I've also noticed they heal quicker using that than any other cream

Spikeinhiscoat Sat 06-Feb-16 06:37:16

Thanks walking blind, he doesn't pull at his hair or eyelashes, but I'll have a look on Google. He left his face alone last night, and we put some sudocreme on (couldnt find the savlon) and as soon as he got up this morning he was asking how many bits of pasta he needs in his jar before he can get something, so a good start.

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