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sorethumb , 16 Apr 2011

does anyone pick their thumbs?

I am nearly in my thirties, and for as long as I can remember, I have been picking the skin off my fingers. ESPECIALLY my thumbs, along the sides. I know of 1 person who has this issue, but we've never talked about it. I'm shamed. Is there anyone out there that suffers the same specific problem? I'm sick of looking down at my hands and thinking, "wow, I really did a number on my thumbs today, people must notice" And then I procede to give them maybe half a day of healing before I just start all over again, and re-open the same wounds. I'm afraid that my skin on my thumbs will never be the same. The scarring is so ugly, the skin is a bright red compared to the rest of my fingers. I can't even begin to describe the inner agony I go through everyday. The soreness. It's painful, and embarassing. What's worse is that I'm getting married next year, and I'm afraid that I won't be able to fix this before then. I don't want to be looking at my red, raw thumbs in my wedding photos for the rest of my life....
86 Answers
April 18, 2011
Hey sorethumb, That's amazing in the sense that I do the same exact thing. I am getting lower and lower an d lower on my thumbs. I do the same thing to my middle fingers...the sides. And then it's just painful to do anything at hurts and my thumbs and fingers are always throbbing. and yes, as I type this...I just finished doing a "number" to my thumbs. I barely let them heal a day or two before going at it again... Sigh, I've tried stoppicking websites, which didn't work. I tried liquid bandages...also didn't work. Do you have any tips? At least it's nice to're not alone!
February 06, 2016

In reply to by fractaltraveler

Hey there!!! I have picked at my thumbs since at least grade school (I'm also in my 30's). I never really thought about why I do it except that it just feels good when there's dead skin around them, then I use my nails on my index finger to scratch it off. I don't know as far as how to reduce the compulsion but one thing I noticed is when I would go and get acrylic nails put on, it would seem to subside. I think because the edges of an acrylic nail are too dull compared to the natural nail. I don't know if u stated whether u were male or female, but if ur female, acrylics might work!!!

April 25, 2011
I do the same, although it doesn't tend to hurt me, -unless I go really far- as I've been doing it for so long now (I'm nearly 30 and been doing it from an incredibly young age, for as long as I can remember) that the skin on my thumbs is scarred (pinky white) and toughened. I do it all the time without thinking, my cuticles are at an angle as I only pick at one side of my thumbs (on the inside edge, nearest to me palm, around the cuticle and sorrounding skin. My mother's know about it for a long time, and only recently mentioned that my Grandad also used to do it, I also pick at my face too and have to stay in for days, my mother also has facial picking tendancies I think, so I definately think the theory of heredity holds some water. If I know how to stop, I'd have done it myself, my boyfriend hates me doing it, it's like fingernails down a blackboard for him, so that's a good suppressant, but I stil do it (and the face picking) alone. :/ At least I hope it helps that you're not alone.
April 25, 2011
Hi, Sorethumb-- If misery loves company--I'm right there with ya. I've been doing the exact same thing as long as I can remember. The skin all the way around my thumb (mostly my left) has gotten so thick and calloused that if I don't peel the skin off after it heals, I can barely bend it. I've tried filing the excess skin off in the shower with a heel file, or clipping it all off with nail clippers, and even shaving the skin off with a razor. Works for a day or two, but eventually I will rip, pick or chew the skin off until it bleeds somewhere (usually profusely). Recently, when the skin on my thumb is gone, I've started to make my way down onto my palm, which is concerning...when/where will I stop? The most upsetting thing about this affliction for me: I cannot for the life of me remember when/why I started doing this. I'm in my mid-40's and all I know is that I have been doing this since "sometime" in my childhood. Which makes me wonder what the #$!@% happened to cause me to completely blank out the moment I first ripped into my thumbs. Which makes me worry about how sinister the underlying cause of this might be. Which makes me want to do it even more. Hate this as much as you do--and don't know how to stop. I'm not any help, but thought you should know you are not alone. --RMF
April 29, 2011
Does anybody chew, too? I do this all the time..I do it when I'm bored, stressed, or just daydreaming. I know how you feel about the wedding photos thing boyfriend and I talk about marriage and I dread the day I have a pretty ring on my ugly fingers :(
May 03, 2011
I am 36 and have been picking all my fingers my whole life. They are always bloody and I am always embarrassed of my hands. My dad is the first one who has noticed. My husband didn't notice about my problem until I was married to him for at least 5 yrs. I am on medication for depression and it doesn't help. I am so glad I am not alone, but sure wish I could stop. It really complicates my life.
May 07, 2011
You are not alone. I have been doing the same and have no idea when or why it started. Thumbs on both hands are constantly bright pnk now and at work people are constantly asking what i swrong with hands. Most are concerned that I have burns! I never know what to say or how to explain it. Would love to have a manicure someday but am so embarassed by the state of my hands that I never would.
June 02, 2011
Wow. I am shocked at the amount of thumb-picking going on! I have never met anyone with this problem before. I remember starting to pick and peel the front (inside?) of my left thumb when I was about 10. I am now 26 and there has never been a time that I have been able to stop it. It drives my mum crazy.. she tells me to "stop mutilating" all the time. I wish it were that simple. The sick thing is that I enjoy it. I don't go further than this one thumb, and will stop when I've hit what feels like a raw f*cking nerve or peel such a deep bit of skin that it can't be pulled off easily and that's when I'll bite it instead. I am anxious about holding hands and always have band aids in my bag so I can cover it up if I'm out and its all bleeding and stuff. I am interested in the psychological reasons for this behaviour. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 18 and have OC tendancies. I was also sexually assaulted on 3 different occasions as a child and have struggled to be around men let alone date them even now in my 20s. I have always felt that my 'man anxiety' is linked to my thumb picking as a sort of release whenever I am in a situation where I feel anxious. However I now pick pretty much all the time. I read this awesome book called "You can heal your life" by Louise L. Hay where she talks about how your thoughts, words and emotions literally shape your life and health. She talks about a heap of different dis-eases/syndromes and the usual corresponding thought patterns that are associated with them. Super interesting stuff. I highly recommend the book and am using some of its principles in overcoming my own thumb/anxiety issues. Take care everyone, warmth, Mala.
June 02, 2011
Hello All - new to this site, and glad I found it. Let me tell you, I have had a nail biting and cuticle picking problem my entire life .. and now i am approaching 60 years old and a male ... and have had only marginal success combating both issues. My nail biting issue is, for the most part, under control. From everthing I've read in this forum, Iv'e experienced them all ... shook my head in acceptance ... nodded in agreement ... and fortunately felt relieved that I'm not the only one out there with this embarassing behavior. Believe me, I've done it all, and experienced it all. I rotate between cutting them short .. letting them grow out .. experiencing a tear or rough edge .. biting it off .. and them making them all uniform. A few years ago, I noticed that the overall condition of my nails and cuticles was much better in the summertime for some reason. I concluded that it was because I used suntan lotion (oil or cream), and that it supplied the necessary moisturing recipe that I desperately needed. So, I started using that as my daily lotion, and before I went to bed at night, and it seemed to work. I now use neosporine or vaseline .. each and every night ... and it does help tremendously! Who wants to go to bed smelling like the Coppertone girl! However, my cuticle picking has been my #1 lifelong issue. It truly is a nervous or anxiety condition or trigger that brings it on ... but it is constant! I've picked; cut; hidden; band aided; gloved; bled .... to the point where I stand like Prince Charles with my hands wrapped around my back when in the company of people. To many, this is show of confidence .... "if they only knew the TRUE reason!" My thumbs are horrible, with deep horizontal ridges because I pick at the cuticle base, and sometimes literaly "tear" away the skin! Iv'e removed every Stanley Knife and razor knife from my desk arsenal, but I still seem "to get the job done" with just about anything that can get that little bugger! I am slowly, but surely making progress, but there is no doubt permament damage to my nail beds, and my finger tips are somewhat discolored. Another thing I do that also seems to help a bit is to place a little nail polish remover on a washcloth, and then "scrub" my finger tips in it. Make sure to get a good brand of remover, as these can help growth, but can dry you out if used too much! The one thing it DOES do, is it will sting if you have some deep and open cuts! It's a good reminder just much you NEED to stop! A little tough, personally injected reinforcement like this every day is good thing, and highly recommended! So ... looking for any other good hints out there to help me with this long term, and life long obsession.
June 16, 2011
Don't worry, you're definitely (and very obviously!) not alone. :) I've had body-related compulsive disorders since I was in seventh grade. I'm a senior in highschool and have only started realizing that I'm not alone. I have trichotillomania (pulling out my eyebrows... thankfully I've got that mostly under control after severe self-discipline) and dermatillomania (I scratch open the skin on my arms; I've got some gnarly scars!). It seems like as soon as I get one of these compulsions under control, a new one pops up. Now it's ripping off the skin on my thumbs. I've ripped off so much skin from my left thumb I no longer have feeling on the pads. I enjoy it in the sickest way possible. I actually use tweezers to yank the skin off, and sometimes it gets very deep, and very painful. My thumbs are constantly sore (which proves to be a bigger pain in the ass then people would think). The skin is red and sore looking. Whenever I shower, they look awful! The thing that's worked best for me is putting hot sauce on my thumbs and leaving it there. That way, if I start picking, it stings like crazy. I'm so glad to know I'm not alone. It's truly an embarrassing habit.
June 16, 2011
Hi sorethumb! I know EXACTLY how you feel! (As do many other people according to the responses!) I am 22 years old, female, and am constantly picking at my thumbs. I also will last about half a day to let them heal, but them be right at it again. My thumbs have to look awful, and I also wonder what other people must think of my hands; not only post-picking but also while I'm picking. "Why is this girl pulling at her hang nails this entire time??" --people must think that. While you, I, and obviously so many others suffer from this problem, I wonder what others have done to try and solve the issue?? I have heard of using "gross tasting" nail polish to diminish nail biting, but me, and everyone else, doesn't really bite, but usually just picks instead. What have others done to stop picking????
June 18, 2011
I am like that too but i pick all my fingers and nails. It hurts. Sometimes i have to shower with one hand cause the other one is cut too much. It is hard to stop. i have tried and failed but i will keep trying. :D
July 19, 2011
I have the same problem! I have been told it is an OCD issue - but do not know whether medication to treat OCD would help or not. Anyways, the only thing that seems to help me is to have acrylic nails put on - the acrylic nails are too thick to allow you to pick. Within about a week or so your skin will be healed up. I would also suggest with the acrylic nails to put oil on the cuticle bed a couple of times a day to keep the cuticles moisturized. Personally I do not like having to go to get the nails re-done every two weeks, so I just live with the raw skin. However, if you are really concerned about your raw thumbs at your wedding, I would suggest giving the acrylic nails a try. Good luck!
July 22, 2011
Yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean, I have the same problem, except mine is with all of my fingers AND toes as well...I hope this forum will help me quit
October 29, 2011
OMG! I thought i was like the only one in the world that had this problem!! Appearently not! It embarasses me so much to have raw skin on the sides of my thumbs. They are all pink and bloody and is so not attractive. I'm only a young teenager but have had this problem for a long time. My dad gets on me alot for it. I tried to wear band aids over them but I just pick the band aids and then they fall off and go to no use. Any tips to help me stop this. I get questioned eveyry day "what's wrong with your thumbs" "that's nasty" I just can't help it!! I catch myself doing it and i don't even know I am! And the worst thing is a pick the skin off then eat it and it's surprisingly a comfort thing for me! Please help!
March 24, 2012
I shave the skin off the sides of my thumbs. it is not painful. i do not go deep enough to draw blood.
June 02, 2012
I thought i was the only one. I pick my skin around my thumbs and on the side of my big toe.

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