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Dermatillomania (skin picking disorder)

Nemji , 14 Jul 2009

Ear picking?

I have been picking the insides of my ears for about 3-4 years. Is there anyone who has experienced this? I would pick until I bleed. Ironically speaking, my ears are currently infected because of my constant picking. Is there a way to stop this? Help!
61 Answers
July 15, 2009
I can tell you that i have the exact same issue. i am constantly jamming pen caps, Q-tips, the stylus from my phone, anything in my ears. I can not stand the sensation of having crusty ears. I have been to the ER twice in the past year to have Q-tips removed that I got burried. People are contstanly asking why I always mess with my ears. I cant tell you how to fix your issue, but i can tell you what i have done. I have gotten a massaging shower head and I turn the massage on and let it squirt directly into my ear. That has really cut down the infections. Past that, I would reccommend seeing a professional therapist. I have and they tell me that is is a distraction from some self esteem issues. Hope this helps, Hang in there.
Kem M. Sunog
November 09, 2015

In reply to by adammac

aside from massaging shower head and I turn the massage on and let it squirt directly into your ear. What other remedy did you used? Cause I also suffer the same this that you suffer. how youll reply:::::)

July 19, 2009
I just started but its because I see blackheads...cannot leave a black head alone - its the easiest to get out and doesnt leave a mark. But I noticed I was jackson up my ears and stopped. I pick my face and lips though too. Its just that feeling of getting bad things out of me.
August 02, 2009
i can totally relate,i have had this problem for the past ten years and im afraid im no further forward, ive been up and down all these years and also suffer with ocd for which i take medication. i once saw a cpn for anumber of weeks a few years ago but i got nothing from it, its only been recently since ive had a major flare up ive been looking on the net for information and advice, its hit me though that there maybe no light at the end of the tunnel, ive recently seeked help again as im a now a mother of a 5month daughter and im desperate to get a hold of my life because at the moment i feel its out of my control so for anyone who is suffering the same hope you all manage to find help
August 05, 2009
I've been picking my ears (the top so I start to look like Spock on Star Trek). I can't explain the urge, but it feels good. I think I must have a lot of pain down deep and use it as a distraction to keep myself from dealing with problems. I try to pay attention to my emotions when I have the urge, to see if maybe I can get some insight and deal with the problem at it's core. No deep insights have revealed themselves. I notice I feel bored, kind of empty. I've learned through therapy that I have a lot of anger inside that I have trouble accessing. I'm not sure if this plays a role, but it probably does. I've been successful in controlling the picking over the last several months. Somehow I managed to impose some discipline, mostly driven by vanity since it really starts to look screwed up and even bleeds sometimes. I don't want to have to deal with questions about why my ears are bleeding. I've thought about lies to tell, such as I had a mosquito bite that I overscratched, etc. However, I'm trying to live in an authentic manner and lies of any kind really eat at me. I also have crazy back pain that seriously hurts and limits me and I'm wondering if my subconscious mind is generating that too as a way to distract the mind from emotional pain. Seriously, this kind of stuff makes me feel like I must be crazy or something. Other obsessions I've had (have): knuckle popping and going over negative stuff in my life, ie awkward interactions, regrets, anger pretty much all day. I'm not a nail biter and I don't pick anywhere else, but I feel I have the same obsessive style, just too vain or something to resort to that. I'm definitely not trying to put myself above that. I hide my stuff just enough to not have to deal with it I guess. I drink and smoke pot which I'm sure doesn't help. I'm trying to stop those things. I'm really happy that I've been able to cut out the ear picking, but I feel the underlying problem still exists and that my messed up mind will just find something else to do to distract it.
November 24, 2010

In reply to by devon

Same here, except I don't smoke or drink and the only drugs I take are those prescribed. But right down to your insights about your emotions, how you cover up (ie: lie) about "why" these things happen. I dig my ears inside, where the cartilage is near the top, where a q-tip tightly fits through the grooves. I also enjoy soaking a cotton ball, or q-tip in hydrogen peroxide and drip it into my ear so it gets into the ear canal, and thoroughly saturates all around my external ear, including where I dig. It bubbles and feels so good because it feels like it's getting rid of icky damaged skin. Sometimes it hurts in the super picked areas, but it's a good hurt. It also stops the bleeding. Triggers for me are when I do feel my ear and I can feel a scab, you can be sure I'll dig it out, scrape it out, it bleeds all over again, and the whole cycle begins. But the peroxide offers pain relief and it feels so good, so therapeutic, I love it.
August 25, 2009
I've been doing this for years. My ear stays sore and scabbish. I also love rolling the skin I pull off between my fingers. Good luck stopping. i am not trying to stop right now. I think it's just life, Mines different than others. I just hope I can find someone who understands to start a family with.
October 27, 2010
I used to have the same problems with lip/ear/face picking, and I'm pretty convinced at this point that it's a result of 1) too much adrenaline and/or 2) not enough dopamine. Anyone with anxiety problems and/or ADHD is likely to have this kind of chemical imbalance, so check this out: So far I've had the best luck reducing skin picking by avoiding adrenaline-inducing habits and finding things that will increase my dopamine levels (in a healthy way). I mean, the reason why the picking is so addictive is that we get little bursts of dopamine from these kinds of grooming activities, which actually goes back to an evolutionary adaptation for keeping ourselves clean and free of parasites. Also, have you ever noticed that when you drink (note: this is NOT a hint to use alcohol to deal with this!!!), you don't have the urge to pick? Or how about when you're eating or when you're extremely happy? Well, those are all dopamine-upping activities, so of course you don't want to pick. To put it in a few words, picking is just another way of self-medicating for lack of dopamine. So - things to AVOID are excess caffeine, sugar, blood sugar ups/downs (especially letting yourself get hungry), stimulants, sleep-deprivation and stress (duh). Some of these are adrenaline uppers, too much of which will induce anxiety and will make you want to pick as a way of calming yourself down. GOOD things are exercise - don't think calorie-burning as much, those activities can up your adrenaline even more - yoga and tai chi are awesome. Going on a 10 minute walk while listening to some relaxing music does wonders, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting down and working. Also, eating lean meats can help (don't over do it!) because you need amino acids to build neurotransmitters, especially seratonin. I've found it also helps if you can break the cycle for a little while, especially if you have a formal event coming up that you want to look good for. Good tricks for this are to put vaseline/neosporin on the picking target-zone, especially at night so it can heal up while you sleep. Also, as weird as it sounds, if you're a female lip-picker you should try loreal's infallible lip gloss. there's something about the texture of the gloss that covers the rough parts so you don't really want to pick at them. Hope this helps!
catherine taylor
November 23, 2010
Yes, I have this experience too, but soon when it is all healed there will be nothing to pick of the year
December 04, 2010
Hate to hear about y'alls problem but I'm so glad I finally found this site! I couldn't find anything about it or any others that knew what I meant. I am obsessed with cleaning my ears and create sores. I use pen caps, bobby pins, Q-tips, and tweezers, my favorite, once there is a scab. It's a terrible cycle because I can't stand the feeling of dirty ears but then create a scab and have to pick at it every couple minutes once it's dried so it's not there and I feel dirty. Right now my ear is swollen, can't hear well out of it, and is giving me terrible headaches as well as swelling up my lymph nodes. I go to the doctor a lot for it but I always get an antibiotic and ear drops and they don't do anything until I decide to stop picking. I don't notice when I do. I have noticed though that when I stop biting my nails (which I bite until they're nubs) that I pick my ear and when I don't pick my ear I bite my nails. This has to be an anxiety disorder because both bleed and slow things down and cause a lot of pain. I live with my mom though and we don't have health insurance and she doesn't think I need to be on anything. She and my Dad are both on anti-depressants/anxiety medications so I don't see why she wouldn't think it runs in our family. I know a lot of bad comes with the anti-depressants though too. Has anyway had luck with medication to lessen or stop the picking?
March 28, 2012

In reply to by misspicky

Excuse the silly username I registered quickly.....Meds Work differently for everyone. I take Zoloft and when Im nervous or stressed I pick at a little piece of sharp cartlidge that comes out from the skin if I pick it for a few minutes and its that little sharp pain that feels good. Rubbing my finger over it feels nice and zippy! So even with zoloft i pick. I stop with Xanex or Colazepam. Without insurance basic alopazerman or colazepam for anxiety can cost under 30 dollars at walgreens, walmart even a kmart. I have insurance but my pharmacy didnt have the brand i like for something it was 10 with insurance 286.00 without, signed for super saver at walgreens where they had my brand but dosent take blue crosses express scripts.....286.00 to 106.00. and yes mental health runs genetically.
October 15, 2011
My ear is in such pain from my constant picking. I try to stop but the tingling and moisture from it trying to heal itself drives me crazy and I find myself jamming my finger in my ear or Qtips to soothe the irritation, causing my ears to hurt even more and unable to heal. I have other picking issues, but this one hurts the most right now.
October 21, 2011
I am so so glad that I found this site. I pick at both my fingers and ears. The finger part I have always known was because something is not right in my head...but the ears...until today I had not made the connection. I just thought that I habitually pick them because they are nasty and constantly crusty. Even when I don't pick them before bed they sometimes ooz at night and are a crusty mess in the morning that I have to clear out. I had a doc look in my ears because I thought I had something that might be causing the oozing and he said he saw nothing. Now I know that my jacked up ears are because of my jacked up mind and not because I just have bad ears. My ears get so itchy and I just have to pick. I dig out these flakes of skin and am really satisfied. I get this euphoric feeling whenever I use Q-tips and will roll it around in there as long as I can. I have long hair so when I have it down I can pick at my ears secretly while in public. I am somewhat disgusted with myself and I wonder if it is even possible for me to stop. As terrible as this sounds, misery does love company and I am glad that I am not alone.
October 22, 2011
I pick my ears so much! I have psoriasis in them so they are a bit dry and scaley, but it never heals because I am constantly picking off the new skin. The flakes get all over my clothes, people must think I have bad dandruff, also it must look weird that I'm touching my ears so often! I also clean my ears with cotton buds kinda obsessively, I must do it every day and carry on even though it hurts. I hope I'm not damaging my ears too much, if I leave them alone for even a day they're so much better, but that rarely happens...
October 26, 2011

In reply to by marmalade

my doctor told me not to clean my ears cos the wax actually stops it from being dry and itchy. and it protects our ears from foreign things getting in. now i only do it occasionally and my ears are no where near as itchy inside. what have you heard that you didnt want to hear so much that you try and remove your ears? ah, anyway. worth considering what the reasons are for hurting yourself so. and treat yourself with love, be gentle with yourself.
January 31, 2012
I too have been suffering the same horrible habit. It started with a case of swimmers ear. I have been over cleaning the ear for 3 years, The only cure was to use Hydrocortizone 1% cream. Literally 2 days after using it, my ears stopped itching. My doctor said that because of the constant itching and picking and cleaning, that I decreased my body's ability to create ear wax which is key to cure. I am glad to say I am pick free for 3 months now and not embarrassed any longer to get close enough to someone so they can see my ears. 1% Hyrocortizone cream - hopefully that will help you as well. Good Luck, Mike
February 06, 2012
wow so you guys do this too? I'm nowhere near as serious as you guys but i have been doing this on and off for 20 years or so. It just feels good, that's why I do it. I hardly ever do it with q-tips though. I usually take a pen apart and do it with the skinny long tube inside the pen (where the ink is). I obviously use the end without the pen tip. I also sometimes simply unfold a paper clip. That seems to work best. I do it for no other reason simply because it feels kinda good, and sometimes the inner ear gets a little itchy. I don't have OCD's, nor do I feel like my ears are nasty and in need of contstant cleaning. I just do it cuz it feels good. A few times over the last 20 years, I went in too far and hit my ear drum. Nothing too serious but that is a burst of pain you will never forget. I'm sure each of you have done it a few times...OUCH. Anyway, glad to know that I'm not the only one that has this odd little habit.

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