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sarahsunshine1997 , 11 Jun 2013

I don't even know if I have dermatillomania or just a bad habit - help me please?

I really have no idea when a simple picking habit becomes something which could be classed as dermatillomania. I know the general people on here aren't experts so therefore can't diagnose a situation but I just want to know if my behaviour is serious enough to be worrying about it so much. I've picked as long as I can remember, but it was never normally too bad. When I was young (maybe around age 7 ish) whenever I got a cut I would end up picking it and making it worse, I would then put a plaster on it and it would eventually get better (after coming back maybe three times due to me picking the scab). I would also eat the scab and still do I a freak for that? I then started picking more and more. This is where though I am not certain if I am... "bad" enough to be considered someone who has some sort of "problem". I don't spend hours picking in front of a mirror or try to cover up ever inch of by body in shame. I might casually pick whilst on the computer, talking to parents, or getting dressed. Picking never takes out of my social life or anything, which is when I wonder if I only have a habit? I don't care really how I look to some degree so I don't feel the need to cake on loads of makeup and wear long sleeved shirts all the time to cover all my scars, I'm more disappointed in how I've made myself look so much worse. Last year for some reason I picked up a pair of tweezers that are used for eyebrows I think (I have no idea what they were doing lying about) and saw a zit on my chest and used that to squeeze the pus out. It felt so...satisfying and I have no idea why. Now I use the tweezers loads and I no longer so picking scabs I now squeeze every single bump that I have. I don't even have any zits because as soon as I get something that MIGHT form one I go in for the kill. This also REALLY makes it worse is that I have KP which is a skin condition (a really common one though, so surely many others on here also have it?) where you have bumps on your arms and legs which are sort of like goosebumps but they have a tiny amount of protein in it which when you squeeze them it comes out and is almost like a zit. I can't help but use tweezers (or sometimes my fingers) to pick every one of these too, and because it's a genetic thing they never go away! I also bite my fingernails but I'm sure that's just a habit as my fingernails are short but I never bite them so short that it hurts, if that makes sense, they still look fairly normal. I also sometimes like bite the skin of my fingers, I don't always do it but I think I used to more when I was younger. I have a few cuts on my fingers but again it's not something I think is a problem. I also read online when people talk about dermatillomania they also mention the obsession of pulling out your own hair, I don't know if they're connected but I definitely DO NOT have that, so I don't know if that means I'm more likely just to have a habit or not? I'm sorry if this whole post is stupid. This is just so frustrating, but I can't stop I swear! I keep telling myself it looks worse and I know it does. I have maybe 15 cuts on my left arm and 20something scars on there, but they're all small. My right arm probably has a bit less as I am right handed so mostly pick with my right hand. I'm only saying the amounts of cuts because I have no idea how many cuts a normal person with dermatillomania has and I just really don't know if I only have a bad habit or something more. My mom knows that there's a mental condition associated with picking scabs but I don't think she thinks I have it (I don't know, I haven't talked to her about it). I said to my dad that I could have it but he thinks it's a bunch of rubbish and is just like smoking/drinking or any other habit. I try to explain that with smoking and drinking you can get rid of the cigarettes or alcohol and you CHOOSE to buy more. I can't get rid of all my scabs, I don't think I'd go making new scabs (there's always a starting bump that I pick, even if it's really really small I never make the initial problem myself). I think the worst thing is knowing that I have all these scars and they're going to stay on me forever. I don't mind scars so much as long as they're there for a if I could explain how I injured myself each time, but out of the twenty something on my face only one isn't due to picking and that's only 'cause I had it when I was a baby. I've also now recently started picking on my legs as I get loads of bumps whenever I shave (the bumps are the same KP ones that I get on my arms that I pick) and I'll pick them when on the toilet and now I have cuts all on my upper thighs. I just don't know if I belong here I guess? Does anyone have any advice for how to stop, but I don't want to have to go talk to someone (if I need it, I have no idea if I do). For starters I think I should finally get rid of those tweezers, I keep telling myself I will but I never do. Do you think I have something worse than a bad habit or is my dad right that I can just stop just like he stopped smoking? Thanks for reading this ridiculously long post.
2 Answers
June 11, 2013
You're not a freak!!! I cant stress this enough. ALL of the habits/tendencies you are mentioning on here are things I have read other people talk about. nothing is abnormal on this forum. Also, trichotillomania is hair pulling, whilst dermatillomania is skin picking. they are not related in the sense that if you have one you are likely to have the other, that's not the case. however, they ARE in the same family of disorders, they are both considered an impulse control disorder, which is why they both have "mania" on the end.. hair pullers and skin pickers experience much of the same struggles, but only fellow skin pickers will truly understand the "satisfying feeling" that you're talking about. Also, I feel the same way about other addictions. A chronic smoker or alcoholic can choose to not be around alcohol or cigarettes, and they can separate themselves from the source. us skin pickers cant!! because our skin is ALWAYS with us!! i could pick anywhere, at any time, ever, and that's why i feel its so much harder... unless i cut off my hands i don't see an easier way, haha. So when you said "I think the worst thing is knowing that I have all these scars and they're going to stay on me forever.", i feel the exact same way. that's the WORST thing for me to think about, i just get so down on myself about all my scars. but then the ridiculous thing is i continue to pick!! i always tell myself i'm not going to, and i make a plan to go 3 days or a week or something like that and i always end up relapsing:( I started picking at my face when i was about 13/14, when i discovered i could pop pimples and fell in love with the sensation and seeing the white stuff ooze out. Before that though, i remember being a little kid and always cutting my knees riding my bike or something and never letting the skin actually heal. i'd always pick my scabs to the point of scarring, but i never thought anything of it, because a lot of children do this. Throughout high school my picking really escalated.. it became an obsession for me to pick. Now i pick mostly my face, my chest/back, shoulders and upper arms, and occasionally my legs. It's like any little blackhead or whitehead or clogged pore or pimple or razor bumps is fair game. Things that would seem invisible to the naked eye i will pick at and create something totally unsightly :( I too have a bit of KP on my upper arms and pick at that, i always squeeze things with my fingers though i haven't used tweezers. but a lot of people do use tweezers, I've read on here. I also identify with picking at my upper thighs when i;m on the toilet, i have done that too but not too often. Those are just ingrown hairs from shaving. But they turn into giant red bumps and then scabs. My face right now is really bad, i popped a pimple yesterday but it didn't really pop, it just oozed clear liquid and then formed a scab, which OF COURSE i picked and picked all night, like everytime a new scab would form i pick it off, and now its a huge dime sized scab and i hate myself for it :( i also squeezed every other conceivable thing on my face so now theres other scabs and also pimples from irritating my skin so much, but i'm trying not to pick more. Anyway, as for my verdict about whether or not you have a problem or just a bad habit.. i'd say you definitely are exhibiting the traits of a skin picker. The fact that you found this website and came on here looking for answers should tell you something, if you're bothered enough by this habit of yours, it means its something you should stop before it gets worse. Take it from someone who wishes she had stopped waaay sooner.. it's good you're on this forum trying to get help :) I wouldn't say that you have to see someone like a therapist or anything, since i don't really believe in that unless you feel like you really CANT stop by yourself. I am a firm believer in willpower and positive thinking, and based off of everything you said i know you can beat this on your own!!!! :) However, don't let your dad demean the issue, because it is something serious, and its not easy to "just stop". but he's right in the sense that it's a choice and we can decide to not do it anymore (even though you will probably relapse, don't beat yourself up over it and keep trying). every time you relapse just try harder the next time, that's what ive been doing, although i'm still struggling with this habit after like 8 yrs :/ Definitely throw out those tweezers!!!! great idea! i'm always here for you, as well as other people on this site ive realized we're all really supportive of each other :) good luck i know you can stop this!!! we all can :) just stay positive and know that you're not alone, you're not a freak, and this doesn't make you weird in any other aspect of your life. i promise.
June 12, 2013

In reply to by thebeautifulugly

Thank you so much for the reply! You've really made me feel a lot better about this. I've tried saying to my parents if I had no spots on my skin at all then I wouldn't have a problem, although I know that some people create their own spots and others just pick existing ones no matter how small. It always feels like people either think picking is gross, or they just think it's like when you're younger and you pick scabs which pretty much everyone does. Again thank you for the reply, yeah the fact that we continue to pick despite all of the scars and knowing that this isn't good. You've been so helpful with your reply and it really makes me relieved to know that here I am understood and that others are going through similar things, since I generally had the idea before that most people who had this had it a lot worse but you make it sound like some others have it about the same as me, which makes me feel relieved. I think I'm the same with where I pick, although I don't really pick my back because there isn't anything there, and I also pick my lower arms and they've gotten quite bad recently. Just reading everything that you've put is making me feel much more comfortable with this and it's like yes finally there's someone else who seems to understand. Everyone I know either thinks it's just a habit or thinks it's gross and it annoys me when they think it's a habit, I try telling my friends how much I hate it and they just sort of shrug it off. Thank you so so so so so much for helping me try and understand this. I've just thrown away the tweezers and I've never actually tried to stop picking before (well I have but that was before it got this bad). I'll try and stop now, although as you said I'll probably relapse. Luckily I'm only 15 and hopefully that means that if I stopped within the next few years I could keep a certain amount of my body clear of scars (I think I also am lucky that I have loads of freckles on my face so some of my facial scars can sort of look like deformed freckles). I really can't thank you enough for the reply, knowing that there's so many people in similar situations and that everyone on here seems to be working together and ah you're just being so positive! :) How have you tried to stop picking? Do you I was thinking of wearing like long sleeved shirts a lot to stop picking on my arms but it's really hot so that might be difficult to do, but I'll do anything though.

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