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sdg1975 , 08 Nov 2012

Habit Tic Deformity and getting worse

Does anybody else suffer from Habit Tic Deformity? It's picking at the thumb cuticles so compulsively it causes the cuticles to thicken and recess, and the nail bed becomes damaged- causing the nails to grow deep horizontial ridges across them. I've lived with this horrible disfigurement for more than a decade. I was a nailbiter growing up- then in my early adulthood, the "normal" nail biting manifested into Habit Tic Deformity. Over the last couple years (mid-30's) I'm noticing my "normal" pimple picking is becoming worse. I've started targeting hairs on my face, just under the surface of the skin. I'll dig relentlessly, usually causing 2-3 small scabs on my face. In the last 6 months, I've begun focusing on something new. Will this last forever, until every piece of me is affected?
2 Answers
January 17, 2013
I suffer from habit tick deformity myself and for years (close to a decade) could not figure out what was causing my nail to have the horizontal ridges. Finally searched online about 6 months ago and found out that this indeed was due to my picking at my cuticle. I looked online for treatments and it seems that the general suggestion is to use sergical glue. But the problem with that is that if you use it you are not changing the "habit" so once you stop using the glue or if it isn't applied all the time you will keep doing it. So, I endevoured to change it by modifying the habit. I understood that the biggest reason that I picked my nails was due to stress. So I would try to think conciously when I'm stressed out about not touching my hands. I also figured out that creating a new habit would help as well. I purchased some good none greasy cream from L'Occitaine and put one in my purse, one at work, one at home. I made sure that I constantly throughout the day put cream on, so as to remind myself not to touch my hands. This sounds crazy I know, but it WORKED! My thumbnails look as if they never had any damage done to them. It is mostly about changing the habit and getting rid of the nervous behaviour. I hope that this helps and good luck! :)
January 31, 2013
I was recently diagnosed with Habit Tic Deformity as well. I saw my doctor who referred me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist took one look at my thumbs and told me to stop picking. She said, "So, it's an easy fix". I responded with "Easy for the doctor, not so easy for the patient." I was told that Habit Tic is a compulsion and commonly associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). There are psychotropic medications that can help with OCD. In my case, I don't see that OCD is prevalent in other areas of my life, so I am going to avoid that, I think. But, I do find myself messing with the cuticles without thinking. So, I am going to try using a cuticle cream (Burt's Bees has a good one). It will help with the cuticle becoming dry and cracking. Therefore, I may be less inclined to pick. I may also try a kind of glue I've found online that forms a barrier and prevents picking. If you are digging into the skin on your face, I would recommend talking with your doctor. An OCD medication might be helpful and make a world of difference. Good luck!

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