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caroline , 30 Dec 2007

Eating the scabs from picking linked to eating disorder?

I pick my scalp mainly but scratch everywhere else. I just thought it was because I had a more itchy body than everyone else until I came on this site tonight. I had no idea it maybe has underlying causes linked to anxiety and OCD but as I have been diagnosed with depression since 4 years ago, it seems maybe to make sense for me. I have picked since I was in my late teens which was when I also started with anorexia which then turned into bulimia, but of which I am now better. The most disgusting thing for me is that I am compelled to eat the scabs that I pick from my scalp, and I wonder if anyone else does this and also if it is related to the fact I deprived my body of food at the time I started doing this?
73 Answers
January 03, 2008
Hi Caroline, I haven't heared about this type of disorder when a person eats the scabs he/she picks. However it does seem connected with your past eating disorder. CSP is often connected with this or other even in the past, and in your case it seems only logical. Have you tried going to a therapist before? I think that in cases like this psychology might answer a lot of questions, and also direct you towards asking the right ones.
January 03, 2008

In reply to by anndublin

Thanks for your comment, anndublin. It means a lot knowing that someone has just read my message! I have never even talked to anyone about this issue before, let alone a therapist. Although I have had a course of CBT to help me with my negative thought patterns and depression, this 'habit' of mine was never discussed, probably because that's all I thought it was, a bad habit, a disgusting and shameful one at that, but not connected to any underlying issues. I see my doctor tomorrow about my ongoing anxiety problems and will maybe mention it to him then. In the meantime I am doing some reading on OCD and hopefully I can try to understand why I skin pick and how to stop doing it. Interestingly, when I recently had a spell off my anti-depressant medication (I am now back on the tablets) my scalp picking got really bad, so that my head was covered in sore spots and scabs, and I would mainly pick on my way home from work in the car- maybe one of my ways to deal with the intense stress I felt under at the time, both from the change in medication and the pressures of my job. During this time I also lost over a stone in weight through lack of appetite due to stress, so I wonder if the picking/eating also increased as a response to my decrease in food intake?
January 05, 2008

In reply to by caroline

I think that both picking and lack of appetite in your case are linked to your depression. Skin picking is known to increase in times of stress and depression. Same with appetite decrease. I don't think that the picking/eating cycle is a direct response to decrease in food intake.
January 25, 2008

In reply to by anndublin

Just to know that there are others out there like me, makes me feel better. I have lived so long with the knowledge of what I do, not being able to tell others (my husband is the only one who really knows and sees what I do). I have covered my body with scars. It looks like I've been burnt with hundreds of cigarettes. One day, if I can ever get this habit under control, I want to somehow remove some of the scars. I even picked the scabs from a surgery that I had years ago. So not only do I have your average surgical scar (it was gallbladder), it was expanded by my picking. This is not a lovely life, is it? I mean, there are things we can and do enjoy. But when I am alone or stressed or just ... not feeling right with the world, this is the comfort for me. Last night, as I was driving home, I picked at a scab on my side. I don't pick those until the work day is over, and I let them bleed into my shirt. My husband is a laundry whiz, thankfully. He's constantly removing blood stains from my clothing. Anyway, there is something so satifsfying about the action of picking, the smell of the blood and the scab (I know this is really gross, and I'm sorry... I just think that getting it out might help some). I am trying to stop myself from eating them. I worry that I'm poisoning my body with this vileness. When I think of it consciously, I can stop myself, but many times it's purely unconscious. I am thankful you are here to talk with. Brenda
May 17, 2008

In reply to by scarred1

Unfortunately I have the same problem. I like to eat scabs from my scalp. And I know for sure that this hait increases when I'm stressful. (such as studying for exams) I have never had problems with my family or never had eating disorders. I think it may even be connected to genetics, since my dad picks the scabs on his arm, which he bleeds over and over again. Yet, I don't think that I learned this habit from him. I never made my arm bleed then ate the scabs. But I do this for my scalp, which I scratch when I'm studying. I really want to know what causes this behaviour :(((
October 16, 2008

In reply to by invisible

Wow,, Scab eating has been a natural act for me, all my life.. I do not suffer from any of the responses above.. normal guy, job, family, not over weight, not depessed.. No med's. But I had a talk with my son today and he said he read that picking your nose and eating it was a natural act, As he said it built up your antibodys.. I almost threw up.. very matter of fact I told him I eat my scabs from a cut.. kind of thinking everyone dose.. Kind of like masterbation, everyone dose it; You just never talk about it... He almost threw up. I looked at him thinking he was just kidding with his strong aversion to my innocent remark.. Now; I do not pick a scab and eat it. Its a mouth to injury thing and its when the scab is dry and basical ready to fall off, I lick it and eat it not thinking twice. I was thinking,, When we all get that kitchen cut its a normal reaction with out thinking to put mouth to cut, suck it quick and lick it to stop the bleeding till we can get a bandaid.. Am I right on this.. Or am I the odd man out again. So,, We can suck our own blood more than likely ingesting more blood than from a small scab that, NOW thinking about it @ 51 years old , this must have some sort of healthy attribute. Our body and brain has sent this scab to regenerate and repair us. It cant be bad for you.. I am thinking that this is a normal action.. Any thoughts.. Or should I tell my son that i was only kidding and just wanted to be gross like the eating a booger thing.. Hum
January 07, 2008

In reply to by caroline

I also pick and eat scabs and have done so for some years. I wonder what you have learned from your doctor about this. I am also a compulsive overeater and am newly working the 12 steps of the HOW program of OA. Perhaps this will increase my self-esteem and help me stop this disgusting habit. I not only pick and eat scabs, but I monitor my "collection" to keep them scab producing for the longest time. I have them in places where they don't show when I have clothes on. It's really sick and I hope to now be able to address this issue since I just found out that it was a problem from looking online as you did. I have a psychiatrist due to my problem with depression and I'm going to ask about whether the seretonin uptake inhibitors I've been taking could be a part of this. However, I personally think it's a matter of self-esteem and that If I can become more confident and feel better about my body I won't abuse it as a do. Thanks for being brave to admit scab picking and letting me know I'm not the only one.
January 18, 2008

In reply to by scabpicker

Oh my goodness, scabpicker, this is my first visit to this site and what you wrote could have been me writing it. I have been picking since I was very young ( 5 yrs ). I stopped from age 10 to about 23 but then started up again. Although I didn't get real bad until about 10 yrs ago (I'm now 43 ). At this point I am at my worst and am finally ready to seek out help. I was put on antidepressants about a year ago ( my Dr didn't know I was doing this ) and at first I eased up some. I later went to see the PA at his office for a staph infection in my leg with a fever of 105. I spoke to the PA about my habit. This was the first time I had ever admitted to anyone what I was doing. She put me on Atarax, which also helped some but I think it's only because between it, my antidepressant and pain killers for spondilosis I am so doped up that I sleep instead of picking. Over the years I learned how to be real good at hiding my "habit" by injuring primarily hidden areas. Because of it I have had to avoid intimacy on a few occasions because of embarassment over my sores. I too have learned how to keep particular sores going for a long time. I learned if I did this I wouldn't have a bunch of them but rather one or two "good ones". It's awful. I hate that I do it but no matter what I try to make myself stop I can't seem to do it on my own. I come from an abusive background and have often wondered if that is why I started it so young. I can't handle stress very well but not alot of people know that as I am good at seeming in control. I am currently in a rocky relationship with an alcoholic. I care about him but want out of the relationship and don't know how to make it so. I really think that has something to do with why I am so bad right now. I have sores all over my body right now. Although he has been somewhat understanding about my "habit" I am ashamed for him to even see me unclothed. How healthy could that be? lol I NEED help and am really hoping by coming here and finding I am not alone that maybe I can finally begin to heal.
January 24, 2008

In reply to by scabpicker

Hi Scabpicker Thanks for your post. It is good to know I'm not the only one who eats the scabs from picking, and I do pick a little in other places then my scalp, especially my back, but not to the point where anyone would notice open sores, it's usually a spot that I pick to start with, so they just look liked picked scabby spots. I have been to the doctor since my last post and mentioned picking. He says it coudl just be a habit and asked me if I though something bad would happen if I didn't pick, well, no, I don't think that, but I do find it impossible to stop my actions. Even if I realise I am picking (as i do it automatically) and say to myself 'stop picking' my fingers still pick until I've got all the scabs off . Some things I've tried recently to stop (and it's helped a bit): Washing my hair EVERY day- I think the build up of product makes my scalp feel scummy and itchy and makes me want to scratch more Keeping my nails shorter and painted all the time as I bite/chew them less when polished and so am less tempted to put them in my mouth Sending myself text reminders twice a day that say 'Don't Pick' Writing it on my daily planner every night before I go to bed for the next day 'Don't Pick! My next step is to write it on a note to keep displayed in the car to remind me when I'm driving as I pick a lot still in the car... I am back on my anti-depressants and am having CBT for my ongoing depression and anxiety and the therapist has brought up the issue of low-self-esteem in relation to those problems, so yes, I think low self-esteem is probably a lot to do with the picking problem, although picking is not something we've covered in detail in our sessions yet. The doctor has signed me off sick so I'm not experiencing so much stress at the moment so we will have to see if when I do return to work the picking gets worse again. I am also referred to see a psychiatrist so when I get that appointment I'll mention the picking to them and let you know what they say. Until then, keep positive, this is something that we now know we are not alone in, and hopefully we can get out of this horrible cycle, with time, patience and understanding .
January 26, 2008

In reply to by caroline

I pick in the car while I'm driving as well. When my sister and I used to drive to school together, I would start doing it without thinking, and she'd always grab my hand and say "stop picking at your skin". We don't drive together much anymore. I notice if I'm driving to or from my boyfriend's house now (its about a twenty minute, straight-road drive) I pick at my face a lot. I've noticed if I turn up some peppy song real loud on the radio or CD player and just scream the words as loud as I can, it stops me from picking and also puts me in a good mood. ^ ^
January 26, 2008
I've been picking and eating and/or collecting scabs for over 40 years. I've never had an eating disorder. I think mine is connected to abuse though. It began during the time I was being abused by my family. They were "picking on" me and I in turn picked on myself. I just discovered this yesterday. I never made the connection before. I don't deprive my body when I pick and eat the scabs. But I do think it more related to relationships for me. I found myself doing it just this afternoon and it was the first time I was "aware" of doing it.
January 27, 2008
Hi, So I guess I am not the only one that does it. I am 30, and I don´t remember exactely when I started picking but I do recall I was just a child. I bite my cheecks, my lips, I eat my cuticles, I also cut dry skin from my feet and I eat them. I pick my scalp and I eat the scabs. I remove my acne and eat it. I know this is disgusting and I try to do it when there is nobody else watching me. The thing about the car, I also do it, and I guess it is a kind of safe place, because there you are alone. I tried once a therapist but it didn´t work for me. Now I try to control myself but I am not going to any doctors. I realy don´t know if I should see one. I hope we all can fight this problem.
May 25, 2008
I do this to my arms and my thighs. I started when I was very young, probably about 9 or so and have not done it for a long time, until Nov. when my boyfriend of three years unexpectedly left me and a whole lot of other things were going on at the same time. I also tend to eat my scabs which is a hard thing for me to write right now. I hate this and I need it to stop!
June 24, 2008
Hello Everybody, I feel a lot better knowing there are a lot of people out there with this habit. I, myself am not a picker, but somebody very close to me is; my boyfriend. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 1 year. He is such an amazing, intelligent, loving, wonderful boyfriend. I started noticing blood stains on his sheets one morning, and I thought it was from me at first, thinking that maybe I started my period, but I did not see any result of that on me. I was a bit confused, but after time I noticed him doing something strange in bed with me. We would be watching movies or trying to go to sleep and he would lay on his side with his arm in the back of his boxers and I could feel the movement of him doing something back there that didn't seem normal. It got so bad that I would have to distract him from doing what ever it was that he was doing with out him knowing that I noticed he was doing something back there to get him to stop so I could go to bed. One day I woke up and there was blood all over my white sheets and quilt. I immediately put two and two together, "My boyfriend picks the scars on his ass till he bleeds. " I was pretty angry about the fact that he did not fess up to bleeding all over my white sheets. I just figured he was too embarrassed, so I let it go. Well, 7 months have gone by, and it is just getting out of control. He continues to pick his ass and now I have noticed he eats them. I do not have the heart to say anything to him, knowing how embarrassing that must be, being confronted by your girlfriend bout something so private. But the worst part about it is after he is done, he will go to kiss me and his mouth/lips smell like ass, along with his hands. I am so repulsed by it, but again, I do not have to heart to say anything so I just turn my head and act like I don't notice. I am so conflicted on what to do here. I love him dearly, but I do not want to upset him by confronting him and telling him how much this bothers me. It is unsanitary and just plain gross. Why does he do it when I am laying next to him? Doesn't he realize that I am very observant and I will notice?? Last thing, I stayed the night at his place recently and he thought I was a sleep while he was reading at his computer and I saw him pick the dead skin off his feet and eat it. WHY?? What do I say? What do I do? It is comforting to know he is not the only one. Thanks, Helpless Girlfriend
August 10, 2008

In reply to by helpless_girlfriend

Helpless girlfriend You are not alone in this - there will be people who know and love 'pickers' out there who cannot bring themsleves to say anything to their loved ones because politeness is important in many western societies and embarrassment on both parts is to be avoided if at all possible. Your boyf is really lucky to have such an caring, empathetic girflfriend in you. Although you notice what he's doing but you don't say, he will forget that he's in company and will pick regardless as it's usually a very private thing. i think he must feel so comfortable with you he is able to do this with you- but I must say- as you say the bed linen is stained with blood it must be getting increasingly obvious to him that you would be able to see... Could you maybe mention the bed-linen being stained and just question what could be causing it? It may be that his picking in your company is a sign that he wants you to help him sort it out. You could just mention it, casually, like, 'You know the linen's been getting these little spots of blood on, I wonder what's been causing it?' and see what he says, and then wait and see if he says nothing if he is more able to control the picking in that particular situation. If he does want to open up, it would be an ideal opportunity, but if not, and it continues, maybe point it out again to show you are still aware adn observant. The other tack would be to go from the scabs point of view - does he ever let you see his bum naked? Are the scabs very obvious to see? What about to feel? Could you maybe question what they are as the caring girlfriend that you are? Like- 'Babe, your skin is feeling/looking a bit bumpy/rough/bitty lately - is everything ok with it? ' and see what he says... I pick and eat small bits of skin picks and scabs from all over my body - if I had a little scab on my foot I'd eat it. But not big flaps or folds (like from a burst blister or anything) In some ways it's just an extension from eating finger nails/bogeys from your nose- does he do this too? Not sure if any of this helps, but don't feel helpless- there are people on here who offer good advice, who may even hav gone thro the same thing as you, but I would just suggest the first port of call is to open a conversation on it, even if you pretend you have no idea what's causing it, just to see his reaction. Good luck.
October 21, 2008

In reply to by helpless_girlfriend

omg I know exactly how you feel my husband who I love with all my heart is a picker too and a sniffer. He picks at all his scabs that he may have on his arms the most but also his butt back, head, anywhere and eats them. He also picks and eats his boogers and eats his toenails oh and I think earwax too. He is so gross nothing he does suprises me anymore just makes me sick to my stomach when he does it. He also has this sniffing thing he has to smell everything like his balls, armpits and ass after a long hot day. sometimes i go to kiss him goodnight and i can smell the funkiness on his face from him sniffing his ass and balls. I have caught him a couple times eating his boogers and he tells me at first he denided it but then he told me that he just chews on them like that makes it any better. Unlike you i confronted him it came out during an arguement. He says i'm controling and act like his mother well If I didn't have to nag him to stop picking maybe i wouldnt be controling and act psycho. I promise it only gets worse as time goes on. I'm to the point that I tell him to his face like when he does it i ask him "what r u doing?" nicely but with a grossed out face. and he tells me nothing so hopefully it eventauly gets stuck in his head. its hard to break because it continues like a bad habit that is hard to stop because I'm sure they have done all their lives. But it kills the romance in the relationship so you have to confront him or tell him nicely that you have noticed what he does. I have really close friends that I usually tell everything but this is something that I won't share its so emarrasing on my part and his. I am glad i found this site because i thought i was the only one that was dealing with someone with these issues. I looked forward to u writing back
July 16, 2008
Hi. I just turned 16 this last month and I have been having this problem for a good 6 years. At first it started when I was young and me biting my nails down to the nail bed; which then lead to biting my cuticles. My nail biting got so bad my mom told me to stop. So I did but that in turn made my biting and picking at my cuticles worst and I remember that I would hide my hand from people (I still do) and try not to do anything that involes close up on my nails, like thumb wrestling. It wasn't so bad...I thought then until it got so bad that my fingers, mostly my thumbs started to bleed. And of course my mom would notice and tell me to stop. I have tried so hard to stop on my fingers and its worked to some degree but just like before from my nail biting to cuticle picking; it went from cuticle picking to picking at both of my big toes. Mostly the sides and when it gets so bad, like startes to bleed I have to walk with my toes up. Then I also started to eat the skin I pick, and I have no clue why or when that started to happen. When I think about it, It grosses me out but I cant stop and some times I see how long or big of skin I can get off my toes and eat it or how far I can get until it starts to bleed. Its so embarrassing!! My friends have noticed that my thumbs on the sides is a different skin color then the rest but they don't know it is from picking. I just try to give some excuse and try to switch topic. I swim on a high school team and a rec team and I try to hide my toes under my feet and when my friend is talking to me and looks down at the ground, it feels like she is staring at my feet so i try to hide my toes more. Lol, i just noticed i am pick as i write this, I really wish i could stop but it feels like it is impossible. Having searched on the internet for this problem, I still don't quite understand why I do it. They say it could be stress and I do feel like i am under a lot of pressure but I guess I feel like a should be able to deal with it but i can't so I get ashamed of myself and that makes it worse. Kinda like a huge cylce.
August 01, 2008
I have been picking and eatting my scabs since I were a little boy. My family wasn't abusive at all, but since my very young school years I have been very fat, and got all the abuse in the world at school. Stupid children can be so freakin' harsh. I used to pick scabs on my legs. Sometimes, I would pick my dandruff until it bled, and then keep picking the scabs, for weeks, even months. One time, I had picked so many scabs in my hair, I felt my whole head throbbing. One other favorite spot is my back, behind my shoulders. Sometimes, I would plan my scabs, how many days should I leave them alone so I could get the best possible scab to pick. I also obsessively bite my fingernails and pick my nose, going the whole nine yards. I knew, theoretically, that I wasn't alone, but finding this site made me really feel that I am not alone. I don't think stopping this habit is what I really need. I need somehow to tackle the deeper trauma that is causing me to act this way on my body. Cause treating only the symptom, I don't think it will do much for the real cause. I wish I have the money soon to seek professional help.
August 09, 2008
I have a cure for this. if you feed a pet bitter food, it will not want the bitter food. the human is also the same. if you dont like the taste of something then you dont eat it. buy a lotion that has a bitter taste to it. Or buy lotion and add 25% tarter seasoning to a mix. put this on your picking spots. over time you will think of bitterness before you pick. always think to apply when you want to pick. or make it a morning habbit to apply. you can also try hypnosense. one can make the mind think of it being vary painful to pick. and bitter to eat. lastly you can change your outlook views. one can do anything. Anything!!!. you control your life so prove it. tell your self its bad/wrong/gross and think of these when you get the feeling. or think of people watching you 24/7 on hidden video camera. think of theres being able to mind read all your habbits and thouts. most people that eat scabes are low on iron. some even like the taste of blood. try asking a doctor to see if your iron in take is low. this dose not cure a habbit you started over a lack of iron. also some skin infections make these scabes. theres also a texture to taste, smell and feel. its like sun flower seeds. most like the taste texture and smell. this makeing them compulsive eatters. the texture on the teeth added with the taste. this makes the compulsive to pick and eat scabs. you dont just put it in your mouth. you also feel it. what happens when you lose track of a scab... you feel as if you lost your house keys and you where late of work. or looking for the tv remote. doing this makes it a habbit. hope any of this was of help

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