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scully7 , 24 Nov 2008

I pick and I'm worried my kids will start too

Does anyone know if this is hereditary? I am 29, and have been picking ever since I can remember. It started to get really bad for me around puberty when an Aunt of mine pointed out the bumps on my arms (I have keratosis pilaris) and showed me that they could be squeezed like little zits. I then started obsessively picking and squeezing at the bumps on my arms and then it moved to my legs. My arms are all scarred from it. It has gradually progressed to the point where I will pick anything and everything I can find to pick. My arms, legs, face, scalp, lips, feet, cuticles, knuckles, ears, insides of my cheeks, I even sometimes bite the taste buds off my tongue. Usually it's my lips and arms when I'm watching TV. I've tried to stop but haven't been able to. I'll stop picking one area for awhile and then I end up just finding another area to pick at. I feel like it relaxes me and relieves tension. Also, although it sounds ridiculous, I feel like I have to pick at these imperfections I find in order to make them heal faster or to make my skin smooth. I am worried because I have 2 young children, a daughter (4) and a son (2). I am getting worried because they are now showing signs of starting this awful habit. I will often catch both of them picking at their lips and peeling off the dry skin. My daughter also gets relaxed by scratching and rubbing at my arms and picking at any scabs she finds. She always wants me to lay next to her at bedtime so she can scratch and pick at my arms until she falls asleep. I'm wondering, is this hereditary or did they just pick this up from watching me? What can I do to stop it while they're young? Has anyone else experienced this with their children too?
2 Answers
November 24, 2008
Hi. My take on this is that it's not hereditary. I believe that nervousness and anxiety can be hereditary, of which picking is usu be a symptom. I notice that my mother tends to pick at her ears and sometimes her scalp. My experience w/my son is that during his growing up years he saw me doing this maniacal thing and how it destroyed my skin and our social life. At times I would even try to pick at either his skin or my husband's. His reaction was one of disgust and has actually never picked himself. His is now 20 and has beautiful skin. While it certainly traumatized him as a child, he now seems to understand that I have a serious impulse control disorder and is more compassionate as a result. Perhaps the best thing w/young children is to convey that it's unacceptable behavior so that they don't develop the habit early on. It probably feels good to have someone else do the scratching for us, but in the case of children I think that it will only foster an obsession of their own. For very itchy skin which inevitably makes me scratch and pick, I've found that applying an anti-itching powder or cream over these areas really helps. I noticed too that since I have very dry skin to begin with, I tend not to have too hot of a shower which only serves to dry out the skin more. If I do decide to have a nice hot bubble bath, I pour in epsom salts which seems to not only relax the muscles but also help to heal the sores. My biggest challenge right now is to get through a shower w/o removing every scab during it, which is a very difficult thing due to the very nature of it. It's the one time our hands MUST travel over our body just in order to keep ourselves clean, and as the scabs get wet they tend to slough off anyways. I'm used to zoning out in the shower for as much as 20-30 min or until all the hot water is used up. Now I've decided that I must be in and out of the shower w/in 10 min or so; otherwise I'm at my own mercy. It's hard to stay focused but I'm working on it. Do the rest of you find this a challenge too?
December 13, 2008
unfortunately, yes it is hereditary, also it can be affected by environment. get help NOW or your kids will have the same fate!I have a 19 month old girl, too. She "pretends" to pick y husbands back because she watches me tear him up. I've done lots of research the last few weeks, and apparently most people begin picking in adolescence or childhood. I am going to make my New Year's Resolution tom sto picking, but I'm also gonna see a therapist hopefully in January. I am a 5 year veteran.

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