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Mommyofapicker , 30 Aug 2008

Mommy of a picker- any advice?

My 8 year old daughter has been picking for about 5 1/2 years. It seems to have started after she picked at a mosquito bite that turned into a severe infection that required antibiotics. Now she picks at her legs, arms and face. Pretty much, if it is not covered by cloIthing- she picks at it. She does it at school, when watching tv, or really tired. She wears mittens at night to help her from picking in her sleep (which she does) and that works, but she can't wear them to school. We have been to TONS of doctors who can never seem to give me a good explination. One even told us she was seeing hallucinations! WTF! Can any fellow pickers give me any advice on how to help my daughter. This is already out of control, but I would like to break the cycle before it moves onto even more sever problems. We have tried bribbing, guilt, shame.....I am at a lose and so confused on what to do. I just want to help and support her as much as possible. BTW- not sure if it is anyhow related. But she also suffers from petit-mal seizures and ADHD. Thanks in advance to anyone who gives advice!
11 Answers
September 05, 2008
Hi, I am glad to provide you with as much insight as you'd like into my own experiences with CSP, but my first inclination is to recommend that you continue your search for a health care professional who will help your daughter. I identify with your frustration and can understand if that's not the suggestion you were hoping for. From personal experience, I know that there are a lot of doctors who will quickly jump to an incorrect diagnosis for behaviours or illnesses if they are unsure of what is wrong. I think you'll have an increased chance of success if you search for someone who specialises in anxiety disorders and OCD in children. Every skin picker I've spoken to, myself included, attributes their behaviour to underlying anxiety and/or OCD. Picking tends to have a calming effect on people who have anxiety and give a sense of being in control to those with OCD. What could, at first, be seen as a self-destructive behaviour by your daughter might actually be her attempt to self-soothe or calm her mind. Since this is probably the case, you will find that guilt, shame and bribing will only worsen the behaviour. Please know that I pass no judgement on you for trying everything you can think to try. My wonderful, loving mother did the same in an attempt to get me to stop when I was in my teens. I don't hold one bit of it against her. The last thing that I think worth mentioning is that ADHD can sometimes present very similar symptoms to anxiety and OCD. I also know that seizure medications can cause hyperactive behaviour, especially in children. I wouldn't assume to know better than the doctor who diagnosed your daughter with ADHD, but it's worth re-visiting that if you haven't already. Is your daughter on any medication for ADHD? If so, those medications have the potential to worsen symptoms of anxiety if that is, indeed, what your daughter suffers from. (,1510,4109,00.html) The really frustrating thing about medications is that they all have side-effects, some of which are well worth dealing with in order to treat the condition. I suppose the important thing to know is which problems are inherent and which could be side-effects. If you are willing to share any more information about her personality, I can tell you if she and I share any triats that are often telling of an anxiety/OCD-prone person. I apologise for the very long response and hope you're able to find something helpful. Please keep in touch. My very best wishes to you!
October 07, 2008
This speaks to me because I started picking at a very young age (total of probably 25 years now) and my Mother never sought help for me. I ask her now why she never did anything, and she says she didn't realize it was such a problem and she regrets not doing anything. All I can say is, do whatever you can. I think the only thing that will help her (and me and anyone else with this horrid compulsion) is going to be therapy of some sort. Maybe meds too. Whatever you do, DON'T GIVE UP, because your daughter is the one that will suffer; most likely for the rest of her life, as I have.
October 07, 2008
I also started picking at a young age. My parents did the mitten thing too - but like you say it only worked at night. Since she is now 8 try and get her to start a hobby like crocheting or knitting - it will keep her hands busy. I knit and crochet while watching TV it helps me not to pick unconsciously. I think my picking is OCD I can't stand feeling any bump on my skin - it has to be smooth and level so I will pick anything that is raised. My sister is like this too. Make her aware of it and tell her the consequences (show her photos of people who pick) but ultimately you can't force her to stop. If you notice her picking give her something to do that requires the use of both hands. Sorry I'm not much help - I'm still looking for ways to deal with it myself.
October 22, 2008
When I was younger I never used to have a picking problem. I’m 15 now and unfortunately I pick at my face alllllllllllll the time. Between the ages of 12 and 13 I was diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety Disorder NOS, and petite mal seizures. I noticed that very shortly after I was put on medication for all of these things I started to constantly pick at my face. It wasn’t too bad because it was just my face and makeup would usually do the trick. A couple of months ago I found myself subconsciously picking at my arms, my chest, and even my scalp. I just couldn’t stop picking at every bump, zit, or scab and half the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it! That’s when I started to experiment with things and see if I could fix my nasty picking habbit. Finally I found a link between my ADHD medicine and the urge to pick. I take Vyvanse, and right when my picking started to get worse, coincidentally my dosage had just been increased. I stopped taking the Vyvanse for a little over a week and my urge to pick drastically decreased. For once I let most of the scabs heal (even though they just left huge scars), and about 90% of my acne went away from me not messing with and worrying about my face all the time. It sucks though because I need the medicine, but the medicine makes me pick! Currently I am on the lowest possible dosage for my ADHD medicine and my picking is somewhat under control. My suggestion is to thoroughly evaluate all of the medications that your daughter takes (especially the ADHD one!), and see if they could be linked at all. I hope this helps you!!! =) P.S. I know it sounds strange that decreasing ADHD medicine would have this positive effect on picking, but it worked for me! Decreasing and increasing the anxiety medicine had no effect whatsoever, and since she started at such a young age i dont think i could be related to her having an Anxiety Disorder. Im only 15 though, so who knows if im right =p. All i know is that it worked for me and i hope it works for your daughter! Good look and dont give up hope!
November 11, 2008

In reply to by ChelseaElizabeth

I am am ADHD and OCD, and I pick my skin. I used to pick scabs on my head when I was little until they would bleed. I remember my mom having to carefully part my hair when she braided it so all of the scabs were covered up. She has had to put up with a lot when it comes to me. She has sent me to all sorts of doctors and therapists so, I know medications, my doctors have had me try a very wide variety of different combinations of ADHD medication and anti-depressants since about the third grade. I take vyvanse, and it does make picking worse. Most ADHD medications do because they are stimulants, like speed, and increase anxiety. There are a few that are depressants, I took Strattera for a while. It works for ADHD, but unlike vyvanse, you HAVE to take it everyday for it to work. Also, you have to take a higher dose. I took 100 mg of Strattera in middle school and it worked for both my picking and ADHD. It does not work as well for ADHD as vyvanse, but then I didn't take it everyday because I would forget on weekends so I really don't know. Then when I would take it again I would have to get used to it and would feel a little sick. If you think you are disciplined enough to take it everyday, I strongly suggest you try Strattera or something similar that is NOT a stimulant. This may work for your daughter if you think medication may be making the picking worse. Out of all of the stimulants, my doctor put me on Vyvanse because he said it increases your anxiety the least. I also take the smallest possible dosage of it. I really do rely on it to get anything done so stopping taking it isn't an option. I will say that I felt like Strattera made me zombie like, in that it took away my personality. That may have just been because I didn't take it everyday, so you still should give it a try. Everyone has different reactions to the different ADHD medicines and your dosage is important. Also, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are supposed to help a lot, but you have to take a higher dose than if you were taking it just for depression sometimes when you are dealing with something like this or BDD.
October 25, 2008
It is important that you are supportive of your daughter. It is very difficult when others yell at us(skin pickers). It makes us feel worse inside and want to pick more. So please ALWAYS be ACCEPTING of her condition. Let her know you are always willing to help and trying to get her help. Encourage her on good and bad days of picking that she can fight it (as there is some control over the matter). It is important that she not feel helpless in the matter but not also feel guilty when its not all in her total control either. Things for her to do: keep her out of the bathroom as much as possible, limit the amount of mirrors in the house, keep her hands busy, i suggest getting her nails done (something to make it more difficult for her to pick), talk to her about what beauty is (try to assess for body dismorphic issues). It sounds like she is suffering from ocd/anxiety related issues. Your best bet is to consult someone who is specialized in these areas and /or a cognitive behavioral therapist. First you may want to try making sure this is not due to a medical condition even though typically skin picking is more psychological in nature. hope this is of some help! i wish you and ur daugthter the best!
November 04, 2008
take your daughter to medical check up. consult with doctor about your daughters health condition. take necessary precautions prescribed by doctor. i hope your daughter will come back to normal position. ========== Brook Drug Rehab
November 07, 2008
We first noticed picking of her ears around the age of 11. She lost her cat at that time and we associated the picking with the anxiety due to the loss. She would pick at night, we believed not being totally aware of what she was doing, but nevertheless the damge had commenced. As she entered teenage years and the facial conditions associated with this stage of life, she began to pick at her face and has continued to do so. She is now almost 19 and is aware of her problem. She has recently approached her mom to look into some sort of help but we are reluctant to just go to a physician without narrowing the choices for one. We do not want her to come away with the mentality that she has more problems than she went to him with. This would also not be healthy or productive. She does get her nails done, she plays the piano, she is taking guitar lessons and is going to her first year of college for culinary management. The only problem with the culinary is that, now, she cannot have long nails due to the potential bacteria transfer to the food she prepares. (Frustrating!) She is a very beautiful and intelligent young woman and difficult to convince or persuade. Though we are both well aware of her digression and have been concerned for years, we love our daughter very much and would not withhold any help deemed appropriate. At this juncture, we are ready to take the next step, as she is coming to us now. While we see this as a breakthrough, she still wants to limit the direction and distance with which we pursue. She has asked to go to a doctor, to receive medicine, but does not want to interview or accept any degree of therapy. Even though we communicate it would be only a partial diagnosis with a limited prescription and that medicine is no guarantee, she still migrates toward this approach. We feel she is embarrassed and does want to totally admit she cannot do this on her own. She is very "strong willed" and has been able to accomplish basically whatever she has set her mind to do her whole life. Now that we, as a family, have arrived at this place in time, we feel we are ready to accept any wisdom that might be out there. We accept that people and families are not perfect and that we can all use support, even from those we do not know personally. Sincerely, loving parents
November 25, 2008

In reply to by lovingparents

This sounds exactly like me. I am fifteen and playing piano sometimes helps take nervous energy out of my fingers. I completely understand why she doesn't want to go to therapy. I have had dermatillomania and dermatophagia around my fingers and knuckles for eight years. After having it since second grade, it has become a part of who I am. I wish her the best of luck, and if I find something that works I will let you know.
November 08, 2008
I started picking and biting my fingers around the nailbeds when I was very young (in elementary school), and my mom would always reprimand me to stop, and tell me I would get an infection and lose my fingers! Of course that didn't help, it just made me feel bad and probably caused me to do it even more. I am still trying to deal with it, as it has only gotten worse over the years (I'm 29 now). I did go to a therapist for a while (she actually specialized in trichotillomania) and one idea she had for me has really helped--when I do it! She had a little drawer of various toys and let me pick whatever I was interested in to "fiddle" with when I'm watching tv or surfing the net--times when I'm likely to start biting without thinking. I chose a miniature slinky, just a little junky party-favor type toy, but it really helped. She actually gave me two and encouraged me to keep them around the house, and to get more, so that they were never far out of reach. I got rid of them after a while because I got lazy and never bought more or followed her advice on keeping them handy. But now my fingers are in such bad shape I know I have to put some real effort in. So I bought a new slinky and it is really helping. I think you should take your daughter to the dollar store or party supply store and let her choose some things she thinks will work for her. If her hands are occupied with something, she won't be as likely to pick. Also, gently helping her take note of when she is doing it can help. Instead of reprimanding or saying anything negative or in a negative tone, your family can even pick a special word to say that will get her attention. I know I resort to biting most when I'm zoned out and not paying attention--I guess it's like people who eat a lot while watching tv, because they aren't thinking about it! My therapist also tried to get me to keep a little worksheet to write down every time I started biting--the date, time, and what else I was doing, but I was writing something every five seconds! I guess if I had kept at it, it would have helped. But since your daughter is young she will need a lot of encouragement, support, and loving "nudges." Good luck. I hope she improves!
November 25, 2008
TAKE HER FOR HELP AND LET HER KNOW SHE ISNT THE ONLY ONE WHO NEEDS IT!!! I have chronic skin picking and dermatophagia since I was seven and I am now fifteen. This is not just a habit and it isn't just going to go away. I really wish my parents wouldn't have called it a habit all years and they haven't done crap except threaten with stupid punishments and consequences. Please don't hand out punishments for this. IT IS NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN JUST STOP!!! please dont act disgusted and just try to understand. I can guarantee that if you ask disgusted and tell her to just stop she will end up seriously hurt that you didn't help her. This is not just a habit it is an impulse disorder and sometimes people with this don't even consiously know they are doing it. It is believed that it may possibly be caused sometimes by chemical imbalances. So yes, it could have something to do with her seizures and ADHD. I have a friend who has the same type of seizures and ADHD and he has this problem also. Please understand that it is going to take more than a habit breaker to stop her. And trust me, the longer you wait, the harder it is to stop.

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