My story and what helped me... (Long)
Posted August 7th, 2010 by RN2BeCori
I have been suffering from dermatillomania since 7th grade. I am now a Junior in college (14 years later). I pick (sometimes bite) the sides of my fingers until they bleed. It usually gets to the point to where it is an obvious red irritation and bleeds. Four years I worked with the public selling phones, I would be so ashamed to see customers stare at my hands with a million band aids. Sometimes I would work with gloves to protect myself if it became really bad. I would always get asked about it and I would reply, “oh I burned myself.” It was hard dealing with it all. Fast forward to March… I was accepted into a RN-BSN program (after many years of vigorous prerequisites). I had a doctor visit and had a huge health scare. I went to pick up my paperwork for my health screening and clearance and an ignorant medical assistant (just this one because she was the one who scared me) told me to wait in the office because “something about a positive Hep B.” I was shocked! She told me to have a seat and the doctor would need to see me. I was so scared and I cried, mind you that I have a good marriage and just had a baby boy. I kept thinking about all the ways I could have contracted this disease. Then I kept thinking about the times I had picked and I had helped customers and I kept thinking that I had done this to myself and my family. I felt so guilty, I felt as though my life was over… One hour after sitting in the waiting room, I hear the doctor next to the door, he states, “No, she does not have Hep B, she is Hep B immune (titers) from her immunizations. I had tears of joy on my way home. I couldn’t believe that my life had flashed before my eyes and everything was clear. Then my mind wandered… Someday soon I will be dealing with patients with HIV, Hep B, Hep C, and other pathogenic diseases on a regular basis. Skin is an organ that helps protect you from many of these diseases; I realized that only a thin piece of latex would be protecting me. That isn’t enough!!! So I began to research methods of help, I looked up psych help. I have time contingencies so that would be next to impossible. I also don’t have great health coverage and I can’t afford it. My health is more important than money, but having to support my family and go through nursing school, it just isn’t within my means. Then I tried techniques “knowing when I’m picking and stop”. That didn’t work out because I usually pick when I am not even conscious about it. So then I tried several lotions. I went through expensive bottles and inexpensive and I couldn’t find anything that helped. One day I walked to my local grocery store and bough “Sally Hansen: Fast-Absorbing Hand & Cuticle Crème.” I figured cuticle, maybe this will help? So I tried it, and I was so shocked on how it helped. Now I wasn’t shocked on how it moisturized “because that was great too” but what influenced me the most was the way it made me stop picking! It made my finger kind of greasy so it would slip away from the cracks and not allow me to pick!!! When I would regain “consciousness” and realized I was trying to pick again, I would run and grab my bottle of lotion and rub, rub, rub it in. So that was one thing that helped, another thing was my nails. I cut my nails down to the very brim because I used them to scratch neighboring skin. This, plus the lotion were great, but on top of that I went a step further. I decided to write down the times I would commence the picking. I noticed that when I would drive to work/school I would pick in the car. I also noticed that I would pick during the shower (the skin becomes white and easy to pick). So knowing this I would put my lotion on before I got in the car (or gloves) and while I took a shower I would make sure I would shower very quickly and focus on not picking the whole time! When I would do homework and I knew my hands were feeling a bit dry, (boom!) I would pull out my lotion. During this hard time, I began letting my hands heal and the more they healed the less that I could pick because it became uninteresting! I have to tell everyone, I start clinical very soon and I am free of lesions on my fingers! THIS WORKED FOR ME! I just wanted to share this just in case this information could also help someone else out there.