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Scarredandscared , 12 Mar 2014

I want to quit, but fail again and again.

I'm a skin picker. I didn't even know this was an actual disorder until watching a "My Strange Addictions" show that spotlighted a girl with almost the me. It made me feel disgusted, and like a freak. Probably because I am. I've picked since I was probably about 7, but it has escalated over the years. I'm 18 now. It started with me having a bit of dandruff on my scalp and I'd scratch it off since it was 'gross' and contaminating my skin. Scratching that lead to red spots, which created small, white scabs. I found these interesting to look at. I'd pick at them, then let them heal a little, then pick again. Sometimes they actually broke open and bled clear liquid, sometimes they actually bled blood. Sometimes a lot of blood. It interested me. When I pulled off the scab it was exciting to see the different textures. I would look at them, squeeze them with my finger nails, decide if it was a big one or not, and throw it away. Eventually I had over 7 on my head...and some were deep. They were always bloody because I picked at them multiple times daily. It became hard to conceal them despite my thick hair, and my mom found out when I was 10. She thought it was a rash and took me to a dermatologist. He took one look, told me to stop scratching them, and said to put neosporin on them. It wasn't that simple. I stopped for a little wile because mom medicated me every night and looked at them. She paid attention if I picked and got onto me. I didnt' care. I let them heal enough that she thought it was over, then started again. I started doing it in the bathroom. If that wasn't enough, I then developed acne and realized that I could squeeze my pores and extract puss, blood, and many times, little white, round balls. I don't know why, but I am obsessed with these. I will sit at the mirror for an hour every night, and...horribly...I use a tooth scraper (like from the dentist) to push my pores and extract these balls. They come right back. My face is now scarred. I also have acne on my back and know I've made it worse because I constantly bother it. My skin gets scaly and I scrape off the dry skin. It hurts and feels good. Often this makes me bleed, and there are spots of blood all over my bra, shirt, and tank tops. Its humiliating but I can't stop. I now have 20 sores on my head and its nearly impossible to conceal them. I try to stop and do well for a week, long enough for a hair cut without suspicion, but then go back to picking more than ever. I constantly touch, squeeze, and scrape my back, chest, face, head, and arms. Its disgusting. I even do it in public, especially when stressed or bored. I don't know what to do. Help me.
1 Answer
March 21, 2014
Hi there. I have been a long-time picker as well and feel your pain like you wouldn't believe. I am currently locked up in my room in an attempt to conceal the damage I have done, which is not an unusual situation for me to be in. It is a humiliating existence at times, and one that not a lot of people understand unless they have experienced it as well. Thank you so much for posting - you are brave for telling your story and getting it off your chest in such an honest way. I just started seeing a counsellor about my skin picking, and I suggest you do the same. After all, it certainly can't hurt, right? One of the things she told me to do was to join a forum and or/support group online, as this issue is a largely secretive one and we really need to express ourselves and find others to relate to. So you have already taken an important step in your healing. Other websites for you to check out: "" "" "" There are also some videos on youtube of people telling their stories which I find comforting to watch when I'm feeling particularly alone... search dermatillomania to get the most results. Other tools to consider using: -Wear gloves, or bandaids on your fingertips to create a barrier. This helps bring more awareness as well as stopping you from doing real damage. Another barrier for you could be wearing a hat so as to stop you from feeling the surface of your scalp all the time. With regards to your back and chest, you could place bandages on spots (this can work for your face too when you are home alone) after cleaning them and putting some neosporin on to avoid infection. Keep replacing them each day and night. Try to reduce the time in-between bandaids, so you don't have time to pick them before a new bandage is on. -Dim the lighting in your bathroom - even to the level of candlelight. I have purposely left one of the lightbulbs above my sink un-replaced for a long time and find this helps. The less you see the less you want to dig out blackheads, whiteheads, hairs, teeny bumps, whatever....Also, get any magnifying mirrors out of your house!!!! -Please please throw away the tool you're using for picking. Do it when you are especially frustrated at it with certainty and say out loud why you don't want it in your life anymore. Keep that memory of strength in your mind. -Be gentle with your skin...cut your nails all off, (again, don't use tools)...treat it with a loving touch. Be realistic that you may not abandon this habit altogether for quite some time, so in the meantime focus on being more and more gentle. -Make an appointment with a dermatologist. I have yet to do this one.. but know I need to. It may feel embarrassing admitting these things to someone and especially SHOWING it to someone... after all, we spend so much time trying to conceal the evidence. I really think it's a good idea to do this though and it is at the top of my to-do list.... they can give you some good advice on how to avoid infection and heal existing scars, and can also help you deal with your acne. This will help to eliminate some of the urge for you, for sure. I have acne and I know how impossible it feels to resist "fixing" my imperfections on my face. When it's clearer, I have way fewer temptations. -Try to find something to do with your hands when you are watching TV ( I pick absent-mindedly at this time). Get a little object to fidget with or try picking up crocheting or something. Gloves or bandaids are good for this too. -Try rating your spots you wish to pick as "A" "B" or "C" spots... "A" spots are like a big whitehead on the end of your nose, "B" spots are infected or sore but better left alone, and "C" spots are healthy skin. Sounds really simple but just objectively evaluating the situation is helpful. "A" spots could be deemed okay to pick, as anyone else would do the same, but "B" or "C" ones are a different story! This came from one of the websites I included above which has a ton of of other strategies (the one). I want to tell you that you are NOT, I repeat N-O-T a freak - please don't call yourself that ever again! The fact is is that it is common and does NOT need to make you feel ashamed of yourself. I know it is easy to let it consume you and control your self-image, but please... tell yourself at least one loving thought to counter-act each negative thought you catch yourself having about yourself. This is an actual disorder that is now recognized by the DSM and is called "excoriation disorder"'s classified under OCD-related disorders, which says a lot. Please forgive yourself for your obsessive compulsions and realize that there may be bigger issues causing all of this... it is NOT YOUR FAULT. It is NOT A FLAW IN CHARACTER. It does NOT MAKE YOU LESS BEAUTIFUL OF A PERSON! Every single human being has their issues...ours is just a misunderstood and secretive one, so it is particularly difficult to deal with. I feel your pain and wish you courage and strength... you are so much more than your problem.

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