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inglesina , 04 Jul 2013

Skin picking habit started by my mother - anyone else suffer anything similar?

Hi there, I started to pick skin, mainly on my arms and legs as a really young child, in fact I can't remember a time when I haven't had to deal with this affliction. This is the first time I have even searched online about this or written about it and it is bringing me to tears - I think because of the huge amount of shame I have always felt about it. I am in my 30s and I have just had a beautiful baby girl and this has been the catalyst for my need to get over this debilitating condition once and for all. I do not want her to see marks on me and think for a minute this is normal - I do not want her to suffer as I have over the years. I can clearly remember my mother sitting me down on my bed after a bath and scouring my arms and legs for spots and squeezing everything she could find, leaving me covered in these angry red marks and making my school life miserable as I attempted to hide the marks under cardigans in the summer and trying to find excuses to get out of games lessons. It followed that I became a compulsive skin picker as my mother had normalised this behaviour - she skin picks still and I can't bear it when I see her do it (she not only does it alone but unconsciously picks at herself constantly and gets angry when I tell her to stop). She'll sometimes notice scabs on me and say 'What's that?' as if she can't understand why I would have these marks on me - she is in complete denial of having had anything to do with my skin picking. So I have 2 issues: firstly I need to break the cycle of picking which has escalated since I gave birth, I think due to an increase in my anxiety levels caring for a newborn and due to hormone fluctuations, I find more imperfections in my skin. Secondly I don't think I can fully confront this without broaching the subject with my mother. I have a relatively good relationship with her and try not to let this get in the way but sometimes I don't want to speak to her and am very short tempered with her and I think this is the reason. I know that she will get angry and deny that she also needs help. She has been on anti-depressants for some years due to childhood trauma (and possibly the cause of her own skin picking) and I'm not sure how she would handle having to deal with another disorder (although the skin picking I'm sure is directly related to the childhood trauma). Any advice would be appreciated - I am currently looking into CBT and Hypnosis for helping to stop the picking (I am based in the UK), if anyone has any advice or experience. As for the issues with my mother - not sure where to start ..... help!!!
3 Answers
July 05, 2013
Hi there...I want to firstly congratulate you on your new baby! Secondly, I think that it's great that you are reaching out for advice with your skin picking. Although, I personally do not have children, I can completely understand not wanting your child to experience any kind of exposure to this very frustrating condition. Since you went through it with your mom, you can understand, first hand, the results. I think that it's good that you understand where your picking stems from. So many of us on these boards, including myself, don't really understand what triggered it originally. My picking goes in waves where I have good days or weeks and then hit rock bottom and destroy my face. Recently, I have found a good skincare routine (Garnier Pure Control Line), practice yoga/meditation and try to limit my stress level, which can be difficult! I would like to hear more about the CBT and hypnosis that you're looking into. I previously told my doctor about my skin picking, although, she didn't suggest either option. Am willing to try anyting at this point to completely stop this! Good Luck! Be kind to yourself. :)
July 24, 2014
Hi! I know this is about a year late... but I hope you get this response anyway! Yes, I do think we learn from our caregivers. I've been picking at my skin for about 11 years now (I'm 22) and my first memories of even knowing what a blackhead was are standing in the bathroom with my mom. She explains to me what she's doing, gets a tissue, and removes the blackhead. At 19 I was finally diagnosed with OCD and Generalized Anxiety. My mom has quite a few of these characteristics herself. So on one hand, I think there's a genetic predisposition for this sort of behavior. On the other hand, I learned this habit (may have figured it out on my own eventually anyway)... but I learned it from my mom. And I became obsessed with it. I realized that subconsciously I had this need to be "perfect" which was unrealistic. When I was in middle school, insecure and vulnerable, dealing with school bullies, was when I became aware that there was something in my skin that could be removed to make it "better." I think if you teach your children about positive body image and let them know they're beautiful, you are setting the right example. Avoid picking at any of their skin -- as you've experienced, it affects you on some level. If they ever ask about your scars, I think it's only fair to be honest- but chronic skin picking isn't "normal" per se, so as long as you aren't telling them it's a great thing to do to yourself, I'm sure you're fine. And when they're old enough you just tell them those magazine models are airbrushed and photoshopped and (thanks a lot society for portraying women in such a light, giving us such unrealistic expecations sheesh). I think you're already a great mother for having the insight to address these issues as they come up. Good luck! PS my mom knows about my picking and knows that it's OCD-related but I never discuss the correlation between her actions and my actions in regards to the beginning of all this picking nonsense.. why bring up something that will hurt her if it won't fix anything?
Sheri Louise
July 24, 2014
Hi there, I dont know why today, and I dont know why its taken so long! But all I know is that I need to bring lip picking cycle to an end! For me the picking has improved over the last five years or so, and I only pick when I am stressed or board! But also I found wearing lipstick throughout the day helped alot because I didnt want to spoil it when I was out and about. But on an evening when the lipstick is wearing off is a problem time for me, so I have to re apply! Its a pain but it helps me. The big problem though for me is both my daughters do it! And have done now for a good few years, and I need to learn more about my, no our problem so I can help them now! One daughter picks mildly and infrequently because she wears lipstick/chapstick all the time, but my younger girl picks quite badly, somes for hours and her lips get very sore. I have tried introducing her to wearing chapstick but she is not interested. We talk openly about the picking and the reasons we all do it. I know it all started with me, and I have to help them and me stop completly. I dont think blame helps, i started picking around ten years and so did they I am fourty four now and they are twenty two and nineteen young enough to seek help,anwsers,to stop S.L.Ackroyd. England

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