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mm12345 , 24 Sep 2011

Skin picker... (scalp, face, back, thumbs, bikini area) HELP

I am 19 years old. I pick my scalp obsessively to the point where I bleed. I don't know if it's dandruff or build-up that causes the picking but I find little grooves and bumps and pick them off relentlessly. Once they're gone, I continue to look for more. It stings to shampoo my hair because of this. People notice red marks on my hairline. I've been doing this since I'm 10. I also pick my face, squeezing out any remote signs of blackheads or pimples, and leave disgusting, swollen red marks on my face and then scabs and scars. I've been doing this on a regular basis since I was 14, and am forced to wear makeup most days to cover it up. I also pick at my back whenever it breaks out, also to the point where I am bleeding and scarred. I pick at the skin around my thumbs and underneath my thumb nail, pulling off cuticles and ripping off the surrounding skin. This I've found is an obsession with making the skin feel "smooth"... but in reality it's left my thumbs permanently bruised when I'm not picking, and red and bloody and disgusting when I am. My newest obsession is plucking the in-grown hairs from my bikini area. Sometimes I have whiteheads from waxing. I pop these and try relentlessly to pluck the hairs out underneath, which leaves me with swollen, red bumps that look like some kind of STD. I can't stop myself. I am hurting myself in so many ways and I don't know why. Anyone have any ideas, tips, or helpful advice? I'm sick of having to cover up my scars and cuts. I'm sick of the anxiety... I don't even REALLY know why I'm anxious. Help.
5 Answers
September 24, 2011
Do you know where you pick the most? Like for me it's always when I'm alone, I took to the habit of carrying gloves with me for the occasion, and that helped a lot whenever I remembered to put them on before a bout. I've found that exercise helps, (it also gets your blood flowing which helps healing) or just getting up to clean the dishes, basically try to keep yourself busy. For extra rough times I took up meditation, just anything to keep yourself still, which keeps your hands still, a hobby even. Have you tried Witch Hazel? It's a natural astringent that's sold in most drug stores, seriously saved me a couple times. I'm not sure how it would work on the scalp but it works fine on the bikini area and skin, it helps reduce inflammation and protect against infection. Think of what you worry about most, for me sometimes it was that I was picking which was making me pick, if that makes any sense at all. Please remember, you can heal, you're not going to be stuck wounded forever if you let yourself heal. Scars fade too I've found miraculously if you just give them time. Try to catch yourself, keep your hands still, it's the hardest thing to do in the universe it seems but it works. I hope, maybe that this helped you a little, I'm new with coming out with this too so :)
September 24, 2011

In reply to by InvisibleDeer

I go through phases. When I'm not picking my scalp, I'm picking my thumbs or my face, and vice versus. My bikini area is only when I find ingrowns or whiteheads. Thank you so much for your quick response... it brought me to tears honestly. The fact that a stranger cared enough to answer this with encouraging, honest, and helpful advice is really moving to me. I will definitely buy witch hazel. And thank you for telling me I can heal... hearing that makes me so much more motivated to stop. :)
September 24, 2011
When you made the statement about anxiety, I can totally relate to you. I had a similar obsession, but it was with my fingers, but I stopped and I have to say the medicine I am on has helped me. I used to always feel anxious and nervous, so I chose alcohol abuse which made those bad feelings go away. My wife is a nurse and noticed I had a lot of bi polar symptoms so I went to a psychiatrist. I am on Seroquel xr 600mg by night and seroquel 25mg x 2-4/day as needed for anxiety. This medicine has lifted a heavy weight off my chest and unwound that tight feeling i always have in my chest. Im 32 and I am finally going back to college and have of alot of drive and determination because of the new medicine im on. I also decided to stop my finger picking habit and let my fingers heal by wrapping them in bandaids loaded with neosporin. After a few weeks, they look way better and I still feel great. This medicine helped so much , and maybe it can help you.
September 28, 2011
I have a problem because I can't stop picking. I pick at my scalp my face my arms any inperfection I can find. I want to stop and I know I do it but I find myself doing it. Its really hard and embarrasing thing cuz I can't explain why I do it.
October 04, 2011
I have had a LOT of luck with the amino acid N-acetyl cysteine, which is sometimes sold as N-acetyl L-cysteine, for my 11-year-old daughter who severely picks her skin (arms and legs). I'm hoping that everyone on this group will check it out. We started out at 1200mg each day, 600mg in the morning and 600mg in the evening. Then we worked up to 2400mg, 1200 mg in the morning and 1200 mg in the evening, within about 3 or 4 weeks. The study that was done in 2009 showed the best results were after 9 weeks of continuous treatment with this amino acid, also just known as NAC. We saw great results after 6 weeks. Please consider trying it. I am not a doctor, so please weigh out the risks for yourself. It has truly been a godsend. My daughter used to pick to the point of staph infections. She has scars all over her body. It works by regulating the URGE to pick. You can download the summary text of the 2009 study on this website - The study was for hair-pulling, but skin-picking and nail-biting result from similar sets of urges.

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