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January_T , 03 Sep 2017

Has anyone used a needle? Scared! Please Help.

Just yesterday, I was picking at a scab on my knee. I picked at it until all the scabs were gone, and my knee started bleeding. In the process, I grabbed a tissue to stop the bleeding but I continued to pick at it until all my scabs were removed, and the skin underneath was pink. And then I was suddenly overwhelmed with this fear that there was something wrong with me. I realized that I liked picking at scabs and I feel joy in doing such things. So I went online and typed the question: am I normal? I came across this page and I realized that there were many people out there like me. I read many posts and soon realized that I had this problem of picking at my skin, scalp, and nails since maybe I was 12. It's crazy that this skin-picking problem never occurred to me. As I read the post, I started remembering how I would pick on my scalp until it would bleed. I would pick on it every day - let it dry and make it bleed again. It's strange to admit now, but I felt something getting released when I picked at my own skin. But picking on my scalp only lasted for a year or so (I don't really remember exactly how long). Then, I stumbled upon a forum topic on ear picking. This is something I have dealt with since elementary school, and still, continues on till today. I'm 17 right now. I pick on my ear almost every day until it bleeds. This is a normal routine for me, so I had never seen it as a problem. But when I read the posts online, I started to feel scared. Then, I started remembering how I would pick on my toe nails every day during a certain period of time last year. I would pick on my nails, and then I would grab a needle from my sewing box and try to remove the nail layers with the sewing needle. I continued to do this until I got scared of how much skin on my toe nails started appearing, and I put the needle down. I put band-aids on my toe nails and didn't wear sandals when I went out. But this habit stopped. I only have the ear-picking problem now. I was wondering if anyone else out there has used a needle or anything to damage their skin? I don't bite anything, I just use my hands. I was also wondering if anyone else let go of this habit naturally? Because I don't remember a specific time when I stopped picking my toenails or my scalp. It all seems like I had problems, but they all stopped at one point. I don't know if I should be worried about myself because, in fact, yesterday was the first time I was horrified at what I was doing. I can't figure out if this is/was a temporary problem, or if I really have dermatillomania. Help!

3 Answers
September 03, 2017

I got really scared when I first read about it too. But the realization is actually a good thing... everyone has issues, addictions of some sort, and personal stuff not worth sharing - that no one is proud of. This is just one of them...
Don't feel bad about it, it is normal to have different behaviours and specific treats that not everyone has. And dermatillomania is much more common than it seems.
You are lucky you can stop yourself and realize this all on your own. It took me my husband to point it out to me as something to investigate further...
Anyway, don't feel bad and keep monitoring yourself and finding distractions that you can have to substitute these. I did this with my face mostly (acne - bad or mild) for so many years I have ugly scars on some spots. Before that I picked my armpits, my knees, my toes, chest, shoulders... and as a kid I had tricotillomania. All faded... being substituted by a new habit.
Don't let it happen to you... the temporary pleasure is not worth it. Good thing you found out!

September 03, 2017

By the way... you should take the test in this website - just to know how mild or severe it is... mine was 67%

September 03, 2017

I was a habitual nail and cuticle biter for 23 years and I stopped this year. What helped was a gradual obsession with keeping my nails manicured and well taken cared of. It took a couple of years of that behavior to fully eliminate the urges to bite my nails. Also it could have been a major life change that affected the urge...I got married and moves to a new state. I am now away from my narcissistic father who was emotionally abusive to me throughout my childhood. So I think being away from that sort of influence has also helped me to get rid of the embarrassing nail biting issue. I am now able to look at my nails and marvel at how normal they look. I dont even need to color them anymore because the urge is gone for good. What remains is the skin picking. For the last two years I slacked off a bit in taking care of my skin. I took the route of denial...thinking that the issue will fade away if I dont focus on my skin. To some point it helped because I would go up to a month without picking my skin (good progress)....but I wasnt taking care of my skin and it showed. So now I am being more proactive with my strategy. I am taking the self care, gentle route. I want to take care of my skin and at the same time gradually weaken the impulses to pick. What I am doing is making even the smallest picking a big deal. I make sure to put hydrocolloid band-aids on the smallest of picks in order to train my brain that its off limits. If I treat the smallest picks as a big deal then maybe my brain will become more aware and cautious with picking. Overall I have tried many strategies and still am trying my best. What I know for sure is that it makes me feel good that I have a goal and that I can try taking steps to maintain my behavior.

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