This is my first time posting about my issue. I am 28, I am a mother, I live a full life and I pick my skin compulsively. I have destroyed both right add left middle finger and pinky knuckles. They're swollen, scabby and because of the imperfections, I continue to pick, but I also enjoy the feeling of that tiny sting. I don't want my child to think this it's something they should do, but I can't stop. I need acceptance and assurance to know that I can stop. This isn't anything I've ever heard of, but I've dealt with it for probably 18 years.
I started picking my knuckles in 5th grade, after developing a callus on my right middle finger, likely caused by lots of writing with a pencil. I noticed I could squeeze and pinch it, without pain. Fascinated, I picked it. I tried biting it. Later, in an attempt to get rid of it or challenge the pain tolerance, I clipped the callus with toenail clippers. I put the chunks of skin between my front teeth and chewed it, before spitting it into the trash. I kept this up for years.
I've even gotten so into it, run out of skin on my hands and began clipping the bottoms of my heel and the edges of my toes. Huge pieces of long, chewy skin. I didn't always chew it, sometimes I just looked at it and played with it in my fingers. as much as I liked this area to pick from, I stopped, once I realized people started to catch on and ask me what happened to my feet. There was no easy way to explain the pattern I made from texturing my skin with nail clippers. Especially if I drew blood, which then, took longer to heal. It was really noticeable after being in a hot tub or pool. Water is to skin pickers what luminol is to a crime scene.
Back to the hands, since those are easier to hide, for some reason. People thought I was biting my nails, but it was anything and everything but the nails. I started using my thumb nail to roughen up my pinky knuckle, then I involved my left hand. If my knuckles (the one closest to my fingernail) became too painful to bite or pick, I would scratch it, or firmly press the edge of my thumb nail into the callus of a raw knuckle just for the sensation.
In addition to the tops of my hands, I found that biting the under side of my middle and thumb knuckles allowed me to start a new and relatively painless picking canvas. I like to bite and pick these areas for thinner slivers of skin. Sometimes, I grab enough that it peels away from the knuckle. I have to use clippers or scissors to cut it off, as the skin peels like a snowball, getting thicker and deeper, causing a different, intolerable pain. I bite around my finger nails, not always to chew skin, but because I like how it feels. Recently, I've attacked my cuticles more than ever. They're so raw. A few Weeks ago, I pulled a chunk from my thumb cuticle, but it was a vertical pull, meaning I grabbed a chunk and pulled it straight up. About the size of a pin head. It sent the most euphoric chill down, throughout my entire body. Every time I thought about it, I got more chills.
I'm addicted. I picked less when I was exercising regularly or had acrylic nails. I do it in meetings, at my desk, in bed, at the grocery store, on the phone, at the club, talking to people, there isn't anywhere I won't do it. I can't be in a relationship. Every time a man had held my hand, he has noticed the dry, raw knuckles. I know, because they've all rubbed them with their thumbs, then tried to look. I pull away, sometimes explain, but I am starring to think that I'm one in a bazillion and I'll never stop.
It's embarrassing, I can't control it. Even though I know it's wrong, like any addiction, I still do it. Sometimes I spend hours, sometimes I don't even notice I'm doing it. I also bite the insides of my cheeks and reach for feet skin, but I stop myself before I pick my feet.
It's there anyone like me? Is there help?