I'm 20 years old and have been picking for as long as I can remember. I primarily pick at my upper arms but I am not limited to there. Often times I'll start with my arms and move to my face then to my chest and shoulders, then thighs, and legs. If there is a bump, pimple, black head, or anything that looks odd, I'll pick at it. I'll do it until my legs get tingly and even go numb. The worst part is after I essentially "snap" out of the trance that keeps me picking. The pain from the open wounds sets in. It is usually a strong stinging feeling accompanied by large swollen welts. I even try to "fix" the damage by smoothing a wet washcloth over the damaged skin.
I do not know when this started. I know I used to bite my nails and my mother got me to stop by, I think, constantly nagging me. From there, I beleive I began to develope trichtillomania (compulsively pulling out one's hair). It would start with an itch on the top of my head and evolve into a scab which I would pick at while reading or watching tv. There would be blood but it wouldn't stop me from picking at the area. I even began to loose hair in that spot. Again, my mother got me to stop somehow. I think that is how this all began but I truly I have no idea.
My first memory of shame from my arms was in seventh grade. I was walking to the pencil sharpener and remember feeling embarrassed about my arms and not my stomach sticking out.
I have tried the over moisturizing, acrylic nails, wearing long sleeves and avoiding mirrors, cutting my nails short, people slapping my hands away, and even trying to replace it with something else in order to stop picking. If anyone has tips on how to stop I'd greatly appreciate it.
I also really want to know why I do this to myself. I know I don't want to do this but somehow find myself picking multiple times a day and thinking about picking when I'm not picking.
Is it because I have compulsive personality. I'm ridiculously organized and I worry more than I think I should.
Is it stress? My picking did get significantly worse once I got to college.
Is it hereditary? My dad is a recovering alcoholic. He only got treatment when our family threatened him with jail time. Is this similar to the compulsion to drink alcohol to the point of inebriation?
If anyone has any insight to my questions or have comments on my story feel free to comment. I'm so happy to see I'm not the only one that has to deal with this.