Online Test

Find out the severity of your symptoms with this free online test

piecesofme , 01 Feb 2012

I feel so helpless and unique... knuckle picking

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?
6 Answers
ahoycurio
February 01, 2012
Your post frightens me because it describes exactly what I do. To the t. As literal as I could put it. Without listing everything, I was the same way as a teenager, but somehow managed to grow out of it. I don't know what I did differently. I just remember one day waking up and suddenly being able to control it. To control everything. To control my anxiety; and I quit. My fingers healed, and I left them alone. Years passed and then things changed. Tonight I realized it had all come back again, full circle. I looked down at my mangled knuckles and was disturbed because I can't make them heal without making them worse. I, like you, love to chew on the pieces of skin. I enjoy the sensation of peeling back the layers and, at the same time, hate myself for it--but I always push that out of my mind. I am trying as hard as I can to let it all go, and not pick again, and I think I can--I know I can, because I did it before, yet I'm so embarrassed that it's I'm back here again, and I don't want anyone to see the huge lump on my index finger, and the backwards logic is to cut it all down, to peel it all back, so it's not there anymore, so it's just flat, and normal. But I couldn't be so lucky. It would just bleed and scar and away I would go, again and again. Of course you're not alone, and neither am I, because it's become obvious to me in the course of a few hours that this is a legitimate condition that vast amounts of people are suffering from. Did I know this before tonight? No. I didn't. I had no clue. I just typed "picking fingers" into google, and here I am. I, like you, even at times would take my nail clippers and cut callous material off from different parts of my hands and the heels of my feet in order to enjoy the chewiness of the skin in my mouth. It is absolutely bizarre, and I never really thought about it. It was always just something I pushed out of my mind. I also despise my cuticles-- they are like aliens lifeforms, invaders. I don't know why, but I must peel them back and as I do the euphoria kicks in and then I peel further and further until I have a gaping wound and then I am embarrassed. During my relationships I've always managed to hide this, or make it go away-- like I said, I quit doing it for years, but never entirely. I suppose I'm ranting too much. The simple answer is, rest assured, you're not alone.
piecesofme
February 02, 2012

In reply to by ahoycurio

Thank you for responding to my post. I have been so interested in why I do this, lately. I used to tell myself I would stop and my fingers would get back to normal. They haven't, even after I have stopped in the past. I noticed that the calluses are softer, but they're still there. When I had acrylic tips, I certainly picked less. The nails were longer and thicker, so I couldn't successfully grab skin, and if I did grab any, it wasn't as delightful as I could have done with my natural nails. In order to maintain a sound budget, however, I had to kick off the $70/month commitment I made. When I first got my nails filled, I would pick the areas where the acrylic dried, but was flaky - just around the cuticle, or attack under the tip, where some extra acrylic had been painted over the edge, making the it seem uneven. Carefully, not to break the tip of the acrylic nail, I remember spending hours or even days, making sure I kept trying. I think, because like you, I would caress my fingers around areas; knuckles, nails, lips, nose, face and feet, whenever I got the chance, in order to identify areas that needed the attention of my nail clippers, my teeth or my nails. Sometimes, I scrape my finger nail under the cuticle. It's like eating a lobster. Some parts of my skin are really desirable, whether to chew on or just pick off, despite the lengths I go to get at them. I dig so deep that I separate the cuticle from the nail and usually like to peel off some of that skin in there (probably a layer that's a cross between turning into a new layer of finger nail and the cuticle. This skin is a bit tough, but incredibly thin. Unlike the feet, which I've even scraped with razor blades to shave off a layer; regrettably chewing some of that, as well. Without any regard to dirt (though I prefer to do it after a shower or bath, because it's puffier, more water logged and easier to get to), I am shocked that I have not gotten any diseases from it.... though it's possible that I've allowed more bacteria that would cause a cold or something of that sort, by putting my skin in my mouth. The thought of eating someone else's skin is absolutely repulsive to me, something I'd never do - I have no idea why I chew on my own. I just like how it feels. I've swallowed some shards, but I mostly spit them out... I like spitting them, watching them land on a wall, or collecting them and putting them in a pile on a table (when I'm alone, of course). I've even been known to pick up a long slice of skin, after it's completely dried, put it back in my mouth and see how quickly I can get it back to its normal state. My favorite to chew on is the foot skin. The first chunk I clip with nail clippers, from an upper corner of my water logged big toe is probably comparable to the feeling a junkie gets when he injects heroin after going without for a while. I think this habit and addiction is far more common than we realize. I just can't stand that if I get a ring, I'll never be comfortable taking a picture of my hand, or if I relapse back to the feet, I won't be able to put my sock-less feet up on the couch, in front of anyone... especially after getting out of the shower or pool.
cekay
May 01, 2016

Hi, this is kinda weird to me, but I was looking through the internet to see if I have a problem too. Im not sure if this is the same thing or as intense. But starting in fifth grade I noticed how my knuckles were kind of "fluffy Looking" and on my right ring finger, I would constantly squeeze my knuckle and just play with it. This kept going on for years until eventually it became disfigured. Like as a freshmen in college I went to the doctor to see what the problem is with the scab, because it looked ugly and I didn't want my knuckle to look like that. He gave me cream to heal the scar and I did the most I could to leave it alone, and once a majority of my knuckle was healed I noticed the side of the knuckle still had a scab, so I started picking at that. So now my knuckle is healed and looks normal, but the front palm of my finger, is all scabbed and I don't know what this is. Is it that serious? I can't resist picking at it, especially when I feel stressed. I like how it feels when the skin squeezes and goes back, but I want to stop because I do this often and I don't want my finger to look gross, and I don't want people to notice.

greg25
October 11, 2018

Hi cekay.

It’s been a while since your post. I hope you see this reply.

I do the exact same thing as you. I don’t necessarily pick, but I pull and pinch and squeeze and push and just all around play with the fluffy skin above my knuckles. I liken it to the sensation of popping a bubble. I can even hear an imaginary sound in my head when I squeeze the skin “up” and then push it back “down”.

I’m addicted to this behavior. I can’t stop. I do it when I’m driving, I do it at work, I lay in bed for hours and do it, and nothing else.

It’s completely out of control.

I’m so helpless and hopeless. It’s like I can’t NOT do it.

My hands even hurt from doing it. The skin above my kuckles hurts. My hands ache from keeping them in awkward positions with awkward movements to manipulate my knuckle skin.

Have you had any sucess in curbing this behavior?

greg25
October 11, 2018

Hi cekay.

It’s been a while since your post. I hope you see this reply.

I do the exact same thing as you. I don’t necessarily pick, but I pull and pinch and squeeze and push and just all around play with the fluffy skin above my knuckles. I liken it to the sensation of popping a bubble. I can even hear an imaginary sound in my head when I squeeze the skin “up” and then push it back “down”.

I’m addicted to this behavior. I can’t stop. I do it when I’m driving, I do it at work, I lay in bed for hours and do it, and nothing else.

It’s completely out of control.

I’m so helpless and hopeless. It’s like I can’t NOT do it.

My hands even hurt from doing it. The skin above my kuckles hurts. My hands ache from keeping them in awkward positions with awkward movements to manipulate my knuckle skin.

Have you had any sucess in curbing this behavior?

Start your journey with SkinPick

Take control of your life and find freedom from skin picking through professional therapy and evidence-based behavioral techniques.

Start Now