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RN2BeCori , 07 Aug 2010

My story and what helped me... (Long)

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.
2 Answers
August 12, 2010
thanks for sharing your story! its always nice to know that im not the only one out there with skin picking problems! :o\ my problem actually picking the skin around my nails...instead I just pick my skin on my arms and back, but its mostlyyy my arms!! ive researched it and I know they say that you should seek therapy because it has a psychological cause, but like you, I cant really afford it and i highlyyy doubt my insurance will cover it. Im 27 years old and will be starting grad school in 2 weeks. Ive had this problem since I was 10 years old!!!! :o( It started very lightly on my legs and than it got worse and worse on my legs. Once I hit puberty, the skin picking started on my face, but was not as serious as my legs. Unfortunantly, I also started getting acne on my back, so that gave me an excuse to pick there as well. Eventually (and I have nooo idea HOW, but I stopped picking my legs and now theyre completly healed!!! :o) BUTT, my poor poor arms!!! Ukkhhh! Im constantly picking at them and theres nothing even there to pick at...I just pick pick pick at nothing and everything!! i actually remember exactly how the picking on the arms started...I was 18 years old and I bought this Sally Hansen hair removal cream and I think I kept it on a lil' longer than instructed!! Within a day or two, my arms, esp my upper arms, were covereddd in pussy infections! It was horrible and painful! I couldnt believe what I did to myslef and I couldnt help but cry! :o( I went to a doctor and she said my hair follicles got infected, so she gave me some cream for it. My skin eventually healed, BUT ever since then Ive always had this urge to pick at my skin. Even where the skin is perfectly healthy, I still pick at the pores. Then my arms turn pink and red and inflammed and it takes a while for the scars to go away, that is if I dont keep picking at it again!! :o( My family knows that I pick, but they dont know how serious the problem is and they think that this is something I can control. every one in a while, my mom tells me to stop picking, but its veryy hard (I can stop for a while, but ill get back on it in no time). Im wayyy too embarrased to tell my family and/or my doctor that its caused by OCD!! Ive tried keeping a log of when I pick, but I usually forget about the log and keep picking. :o( I'll try the lotion idea, which worked for you! Hopefully it will work for me as well! Since last week, I started a new plan...I always keep a finger toy around to keep my hands busy...usually a stress ball to keep me occupied!! :o) And ya know, I literally JUST had another idea right nowww!! Have you ever seen those things that look like leg warms, but for your arms?!?! Theyre usually fishnet!! I could get one of those to wear when Im home alone!! Thats the time when I pick the most, so I could just wear those on my arms...that way I wont even me tempted to pick when I glance down at my arms!! Its crazyyyy...sometimes just looking at my pores makes me want to pick them!! Its really sad and I get sooo mad at myself for it! :o( I think I'll just wear the "arm warmers" until I completly stop picking at them and theyve completly healed like my legs!! What do you think of my idea?? Thanks for listening...or I should say reading! :o)
August 12, 2010

In reply to by picky_OC

I know what you mean when someone so easily says," just stop picking." Like it's that freaking easy! AHHHHHH!!!! I sometimes feel like saying shaking them and screaming in their face, well your FAT stop EATING!!!! LOL I'm not sure if my lotion idea would help you, since I use this cream on my hands. I pick on all the sides of my nails and on my thumb I would pick all the way down to the base and crack connected to my pointer finger, that place was the worst, always bloody!!! I think that having a plan is a good start, it's like a diet. It's super hard to adjust to, I always have to think about my hands so I wont touch them. I would coach myself and remind myself everytime how much nicer my skin was going to look as soon as I let it heal. I remember a long time ago I began picking on my heel and it was the most painful thing because it would hurt and remind me every time I would take another step that I have to stop it. I eventually stopped picking my heel but I went back full force to my hands. Last night I was taking a shower and began picking my fingers again (the skin is so soft and easy to remove) and I noticed and told myself NO!!!!!!!! So I stopped and focused on rushing my shower and not picking. Honestly, I feel like not picking is like a diet but harder because it's obviously more work to grab a burger than to pick. You have to stay focused on your plan and you will succeed. If you feel like picking your arms then throw yourself into a room with other people when you know you will be concious of doing it and it will be easier to stop. Or you can always increase the air and put on a sweater or your netting idea!!! :) Hope this helps, keep me updated! Good luck!!!

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