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lela , 03 Jan 2014

I've never been caught & didn't even know it was a "thing"

I am a 54 year old female. I've never been caught. Small scabs, cuticles, and corners of fingers (near the corner of the nail). And, rarely - little snagged bits off my heel. I always have done it in private, in an absent-minded kind of way, while I'm daydreaming. I'll catch myself picking and eating and wonder what it is about that texture that I like so much. That's what I'm convinced it is for me. Also, I've never, ever done it to the point of having open sores. I do it as a "personal grooming" activity. Just as I would never pick my nose in public, I can't imagine doing this around anybody. I just caught myself doing it a minute ago & decided to Google it to find out more, and found you-all. ¦^) I always carry a nail brush around with me, because my nail bed is very curved both across and down, so dirt gets caught under them easily and it looks gross. And if you've ever had sand in your teeth after chewing on a nail, you know its jarring. I also have a diamond-dust style metal nail file in every area of my life: In every pencil cup, desk drawer, car, and in every room in the house. Keeping those things around and using them a lot could keep you from getting pinworms. I had them when I was about 10 or 11, and the Dr said I caught them from biting my nails. I've never eaten the nail, but I knew what he was telling me. The embarrassment of having my mom wake me up the middle of the night to shine a flashlight on my rectum and put ointment there to kill the worms that were crawling out was enough to make me never bite the nail, and to keep that area really, REally clean. Should I tell my psychiatrist about this new discovery? I'm already being treated for depression and ADD.
3 Answers
January 06, 2014
yes, tell your psychiatrist. s/he can't give you the most appropriate treatment unless s/he has the full picture of what's going on for you. all the best...
January 06, 2014
I'm 55 and new to this site and like you I've been doing this all my life and never really been caught, except I think by my daughter because I probably did it in front of her when she was little and I guess she watches for it. For all I know, she probably does it too. I think my mother and grandmother did it. I can remember my grandmother picking her scabs on her arms (she said they were mosquito bites) until they bled. My mother used to pick my scalp when I was little, kind of like a stroking, soothing thing. I think when I'm stressed or tired and need a little soothing I do it to myself. My mother will still try to do it to me if I let her, but I don't. I think it's gross when she tries to do it to me now. I've never discussed any of this with anybody. I just discovered this forum recently and it feels amazing to discuss this stuff openly.
January 06, 2014
I mentioned this to my therapist the next day. She inspected my hands and said that they did not look bad at all, and although it sounds like I do have dermatillomania, it is a very mild case. She actually showed me her hands and they were picked and bitten down to the quick. Of course it is dead of winter here and everyone's skin is cracking and dry. I do try to lotion my hands and elbows every night, so that must be why mine look okay, bcuz it is a ritual for me ( I use lavender lotion to help me get drowsy).

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