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Dermatillomania (skin picking disorder)

jackieboy414 , 29 May 2010

Does any know what I'm talking about?! b/c I have no clue..

i have a question regarding white pin-head dots that I am pulling out of my skin, and what the long term consequences for such actions will be. Ok so I've been picking since I was 19. Now four years later my arms above the elbow and my shoulders are dotted with dozens and dozens of dime to quarter sized pink scars, mixed in with 5 or 6 "active volcanoes." Typically the raging volcanoes start out as a tiny blemish of some sort; Ingrown hair, small nick of skin, even a pimple. After continual picking, they quickly expand and often become infected. when the wounds that are infected become scabs they are literally craters in my skin. if left alone for enough time the crater will forum a scab filled with a gooey yellowish substance. However they don't make it past that stage without being picked at continually. My obsession is not with the removal of the scab, but with removing tiny white pin head sized spots poking out of the area under the scab. Once I remove the scab the area underneath is more puss then blood, so I am able to see the details of the infected crater. I think the white things I am pulling out are hair follicules. IDK, like I said the wound is infected and has cratered into my skin so I am assuming due to the cratered area there is no upper level skin to hide the hair folicules. I will use tweezers to pull these tiny buldges out of my skin. When I remove one it pulls out like a weed being pulled from dirt, the section I see is only a portion of the entire thing. So if u made it thru this post and understand what I'm talking about, are they hair folicules?
94 Answers
June 02, 2010
kmj I don't know what it is, but I've been picking for 25 years and i hope you do not do it that long! Be careful, I have had staph infection that made me very sick all over and may have had serious consequences had I not seen a doctor. At risk of sounding like your mother (and I almost could be) it doesn't matter what you are pulling out, seek help. It's not worth it. I have cystic acne, too and it doesn't go away at 30 and is not likely to go away at 40! I hope you get help or at least keep what I have said in the back of your mind and it helps you stop someday!
July 19, 2015

In reply to by kmj

I am SO EXCITED that I found this site! I had NO CLUE that anything like this existed, until I googled "is there a way to make picked scabs stay flat and not become thick or lumpy", and I found this post! I know it is old, but, when I read about people finding the little white "pearls" or "white bubbles" under scabs, I knew I had found my place! I have been picking since I was a small child, and consider myself a scab officianado... I love puffy scabs, "zipper" scabs (the ones where the outside edge comes off first, leaving a nice, easy to remove, little round piece in the middle), and, best of all, a virgin, brand new scab. Anyways, I know what you guys are talking about, in reference to the little white things under a scab. I always thought that they were little scar tissue bubbles, or calcium deposits. The best thing about them, is when they show up WITHOUT a scab, and I can pop them out with my tweezers. They make a nice little click sound, when they come out. Sometimes I have to dig them out with a needle, or safety pin, but, it is best when they pop out with just a squeeze.
Anyways, I just wanted to post my first comment, and let everyone know that I am excited to have found this group, and look forward to posting again, in the future. Thank you for existing!

June 02, 2010
I too am unsure what this white pin head thing is..... and I would firstly advise that you go see your doctor incase there it is a rational medical acne kind of thing going on there. I know it may be embarrasing, but you seem concerned enough to post on here............ I was given zinc tablets for unhealed picking sites, and used zinc tincture to bathe them too....Zinc is supposed to help with healing.........However, at risk of repeating earlier posts, I would suggest you look up 'keratosis pilaris' on wikipedia. Simply because of the location you say these bumps are, and that you pull a white 'nub' out makes me want to suggest this to you. As for the picking, you say 'like a weed' coming out, which actually sounds more like a dermotillia response to what is under your skin, and your 'need' to pull this out, even when you have a scab. My guess (and it is a guess) is that the little white thing may be a localised hair folicle or healing reaction, or combination of both???? Anyone else have any suggestions???? But because you pick it out, it may be trying to heal its self as a reaction. I hope you find out what this is, whether it is an actual condition; a DM response or combination of the both. But please........I would always suggest talking to your doctor if youre at all concerned. Hope this helps
August 30, 2010
Are you talking about the white dots that look like they're a form of white head or pimple, or similar,.....but they are only seen AFTER the scab comes off and a patch of raw red skin is there, and these white dots are there, in the raw red skin beneath the scab that you pulled off? I think I know what you're talking about....if you pull them out with tweezers they come out like a tube? They look like white dots all over the place. So if you've got a quarter sized open sore you may see a dozen or so of these little white dots (that, to me, look like what I'd imagine the opening of a folicle would look like if the top layer of skin came off, and these white things, which are not only in one little place, but all over the raw opened area, look like they need to be extracted, almost as if they're the "rest of the pimple" or the root, the deep white stuff you couldn't get out? I'd take a needle and stab at all these white spots and try to squeeze them out, and when that doesn't work, I use tweezers to try and yank them out. I always wondered what they were. First time I ever saw one it reminded me of pulling on a little white worm because it came out looking like some type of tube filled with white gunk. I think those are signs our bodies trying to heal up the pores we just shredded and if left alone, they may very well be the tissue that would make our skin repair healthy, "filled in" and flat. But because we dig that "filler material" out, we've just added onto that whole destruction of several folicles in one "session" and it feels satisfying when you've got one open wound but a dozen white "dots" to launch after, eh? I *think* I know what you mean (if it's close to what I said). I've got those, I just never heard anyone talk about ever seeing them before. A part of me (shamed part) figured they were signs I obviously dug into another layer of skin and was also possibly seeing fat cells and the root of pores,....that I had dug down THAT deep.
September 02, 2010
i think you may have a common skin complaint called kertosis pillaris or kp for short. lots of people have it including myself. it looks like little goose pimples usually on the back of your upper arms and when you squeeze them a white waxy subtance pops out. or if you scrach them off and make them bleed a scab forms over the hair folicle you find the white stuff under the scab instead. its basically where the skin makes to much keratin which is a natural protien made by the body, the keratin gets trapped in the hair folicle and forms a little white plug sometimes with a hair coiled round inside, i try not to scratch at mine because they get scabby and i pick the scabs but i cannot resist squeezing the bumps and removing the keratin by popping it out, its so bad because kp is harmless and my arms would look fine if i just left them alone.
September 03, 2010
Hi, I'm new on here and your post is the first one I read. I have the same problem as you, the bumps are on the back of my arms (triceps) I have found exfoliation in the shower to the area and then applying lotion greatly helps. I hope it works for you, the biggest thing that will help though and is the first step to stopping the picking is mentally stopping yourself from doing it!
March 20, 2016

In reply to by lavenderdust

I also am glad I found this site. I have been a picker for as long as I remember. And I'm 48 now. And I have the same problem as all these stories I've been reading. The white balls, hair follicles. And the scabbing. The low self-esteem, the pain..... I could go on and on but I won't. I was diagnosed with MCTD. It's an over lapping auto immune disease. It's more than 1 disease. It's 6 different diseases. I was first diagnosed with lupus. The rheumatologist was treating my lupus and I had another flare so I went back and showed her what I was talking about and she ran another ANA test while I was having a flare up. The bad news is they can only treat the symptoms, it's not curable. And that is when she found out what I had. The best place I found some VERY helpful information about MCTD is Molly' I hope this helps someone else. I could host a therapy group, it took me at least ten years and five doctors, then " I " was the to tell my doctor when and what test to run. Anyway hope this helps, thanks for reading.

February 19, 2012
Thank you so much, MAD-am and stickgal. I finally have a name for the issue I've had all my life. It was so embarassing to always have 'acne', and yet no acne products helped. Neither over the counter or dermatologist prescribed. I wish I had had the internet when I was younger. It would have saved me much grief and pain, trying to explain to doctors what I was seeing; and would have saved my self-esteem being around people with 'perfect' skin while no amount of skin cleansing worked to take care of my issue therefore I must be dirty or not trying hard enough. A recent trip to yet another dermatologist yielded the answer that I don't have acne (that was new!), but he didn't tell me what I had.... except to say I had a psychotic OC. Like you, though, jackieboy414 the irritation and pain under my skin was real, and the relief felt in getting rid of it was also real. Once again, the internet saves me time and money. It's too bad I can't make up for all the years spent on misdiagnoses and battered self-esteem. There's no point in going to real live doctors, when they don't know the answers either.
May 03, 2012
I am so glad that I found this website. I have been picking since I was 17. I also have wondered about those white tube-like things that I pulled out. I get a sense of relief when I pull them out that makes me feel horrible afterward. Everyone I know thinks it is so easy to stop what I am doing if I only put my mind to it but it is not. When they tell me to stop it is only temporary. I don't even realize I am doing it sometimes. Sometimes I am not even thinking about anything. The Dr.s that I have been to just want to dope me up on anti-depressants and anti-depressant boosters but I don't think I should have to have pills to stop this. I looked up the keratosis pillars and I do not believe that is what they are because they only show themselves after the scab has been pulled off. I hope that this site can help me stop picking, it has really done a number on my self-esteem.
Joe in Ohio
November 11, 2012
Been picking these stupid things out of my arms since college days. I had names for them...tubes, balls, cones, cylinders, etc. If I didn't have my tweezers in my pocket, I would be filled with anxiety. I would even leave work to run and get tweezers at a pharmacy if I forgot them that day. I would work on them watching TV at night and up with a collection of them on the arm rest. They drove me nuts, and consumed hours of my time harvesting them. I thought they were just clogged grease pores, or infected hair follicles. I spent some time looking at them under a microscope and always saw a small black hair running up the middle of them. Most were about 1/32" in length, but some of the imbedded "balls" were larger than a pin head. The craters they left would be filled again within a week. Eventually, the long riders would clear up, but there were always new crops to pick at. You can feel a tingling sensation when you brush your finger over them as if they are somehow connected to a nerve. I am 55 now and have blotched skin all over my arms that stays pink wile the rest of arms get tan in the summer. I am often asked at the pool what happened to my arms. I would estimate that I had well over 1,000 of these things in the 30 years they were growing on my arms. No dermatologist or neurologist was ever able to identify their source or give me a solution. I had a massive heart attack three years ago. I went code blue for 30 minutes, suffered a stroke, had complete renal and respiratory failure and after a month in a coma came out with two mechanical heart valves and no feeling on my left side. Staph infection in my heart was the culprit. My white blood cell count was 25,000...4 times the normal amount when I "died". I have not had any white arm buddies since my operation and I wonder if they were a sign of impending doom. If you have had these nasties for any length of time, please see a cardiologist. Joel
July 02, 2014

In reply to by Joe in Ohio

^^ I'm assuming post is old but hope comment doesn't get lost. Anyway, those little white grains or beads (somewhat like blackheads but not) is exactly what I constantly pick at all day. I've found them while picking my arms, legs, neck, back, shoulders, & even scalp. Idk why they r there and more so how to stop and just leave them be! I don't even know y I started to really? To be really honest, I used to do drugs over 10 years ago & my skin was actually flawless in comparison. Just overwhelmed
December 30, 2012
I have the same thing and have had them since 2008 and it seems like they started when I went back to tanning:( Anyway I would NOT leave them alone and keep using tweezers to pull them out and I have scars on both sides of my face from it:( I have them again and they hurt and drive me CRAZY and even with the scars I can't seem to leave them alone? They have moved down the sides of my neck now:( Going to the Derma Doc soon
December 19, 2015

In reply to by cdestiny

I also think my weird,white spots appeared after I started using a tanning bed about 10 years ago. I only tanned for a short time, ironically to help my psorasis. I just looked earlier at one of my healed spots and there are two white bumps still there. Under the skin. I picked one out and it bled like crazy. Ugh!!!

January 09, 2013
Ever since I got pregnant with my last child who is 4 years old now...I started to break out with ...pimples I'd call them...I'd leave them alone at first thinking they'd go away....they didn't..just got harder and bigger and hurt like a SOB. I told my doc about them and she said it was because of the heat and for me to put powder under and around my breast to help. I personally knew there was more to it..prior to this my breast were scar they are scard horribly! After I pop them...they don't I thought perhaps...I needed to take vitamins...bought all kinds to help improve name it I took! They didn't go day while I was messing with one...I noticed under the scab there was,what I call a "white looking root" sticking out from the middle of the sore. So I got twizzers and gently pulled it out slid out and came to a point...a root! it was solid in touch and the hole from where it came from started to bleed..I cleaned up the wound and it healed!! These sore started to pop up all over my breast...some sores having 1 root and some with upwards to 3 in one sore! I have no idea what these things are...I'm just hurt by my breast looking like a battle ground...I'm ashamed to show my husband...I once had beautiful skin/breast. I'm just tired of fighting these sores and their god forsaken roots of hell! Always looking for feed back... thank you!
September 02, 2014

In reply to by scardboobies

Hello there. Are u still having symptoms . Pretty sure. If possible please contact me Miguel . I knew there wud be more and it sux even more when u r walking in a store and can actually diagnose people around me. must be do to Having it since childhood. Hate it but been actually able to cure people just by making them aware. They ask how I know. There's alot to it but after at least being able to share this. It makes it that much easier knowing that there's wrong and rite and that its never rite to not no or be misguided by drs. Somebody's not telling us something. Stated fact do to what I've discovered through desperation and absolutely no help here in medical community. Its gotten to the point that it has my brother of 38yeRs in the I.c.u. hanging on to life
January 13, 2013
I've noticed this same occurrence on my face recently. I have mild acne, so at first I thought it was related to my acne. But after some research I'm pretty sure its related to a vitamin I have been taking. I recently started taking Biotin, which is supposed to promote health in your hair, skin and nails. Biotin is also found in multivitamins and some people just produce it in greater quantities, just depends on genetic makeup. Anyways, my point is that Biotin is directly related to the skin's ability to produce Keratin. I stopped taking my multivitamin and biotin supplement for a month and the keratin bumps healed and disappeared. So just something to think about...if you're taking any kind of multivitamin or biotin supplement there is a high probability it is related to the keratin deposits and sores on your body.
February 09, 2013
Anyone with skin issues that do not heal.research morgellons it is very important and supposed to be a new thing but I have had it for 7 you're now and it was regonized sense 2003 we are all exposed to this it is world wide but the worst part is who did it to us .It is not ingrown hairs nor pimples .Check it out but remember we are not supposed to know.
March 02, 2013
I hate these spots! I had them on the inside of my arm when I was ten, after a year or so they went away and left me with some really horrid craters in the inside of my arm. Then a few days ago I noticed the pores on my face looked lager than usual and one of my spots had been there for a while. So I investigated and pulled out a long white thing and nearly had a heart attack!i forgot about it for a day, thinking it was nothing then looked closely at my pores and discovered white heads poking out of them so I got some tweezers and pulled one out. I knew I couldn't ignore it this time so i came to the conclusion I had gotten them again and I really feel like crying. When I had the spots when I was ten I when to the doctors about them and I can't remember what name he gave them, but I do know he said that you could have the for six months to five years!

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