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teresawalling , 29 Jul 2009

What can I do to stop picking at my skin

Hi everyone. Glad to know I am not alone. Sorry to hear that more people suffer as I do. I am 37 and have picked since I was about 15. 22 years of this. Now I am a mother and I come to tears to hear my children talk about mommy's many many boo-boos. If I wasn't embarassed enough for myself, now I am embarrassed for my children. I try to stop, I think I have stopped, and then I look down at my arms and it looks like I have chicken poxs. I don't even remember picking!!!! What can I do to end this? What has worked for you guys?
87 Answers
July 29, 2009
I am in the same boat as you. I'm 38 and have picked since I was 13. And I pick my arms ALL the time. I actually wouldn't have had bad skin if I didn't scan it all the time. I reach down the back of my shirt while driving scanning for something to pick. I too have stopped when I cut my nails down or when I had the fake nails, but the nagging constant urge is still there. I know what you mean about your kids talking about the boo boos. I actually have cancelled beach dates, park dates, pool dates because my arms were so bad and couldn't wear a short sleeve shirt. Nobody besides everybody here can even imagine what it feels like to be so controlled by this behavior. My husband always says, why don't you just stop? My 16 year old son CONSTANTLY bites the skin off his fingers. It drives me nuts to see him do it. One thing I just started doing around the house (which is where I always pick) is I started wrapping my arms up in ace bandages so I just wouldn't do it. It has been working, but about five minutes ago, I didn't have them on and I was right back to picking. I wish you luck. I am going to talk to my doctor about medication to see if that might help.
July 29, 2009

In reply to by shemac

Yes, I too am always scanning for new ones to pick. Anywhere I can reach, whether I can see it or not. My clothes have blood stains (especially on the upper back of my shirt) from picking. Anywhere I think a new one might be hiding, I have to check. And once I know it is there, it just has to be dealt with. I fight the urge at the time, but always give in sooner or later. I am finding that this happens most when I have time to sit still, such as in the car (like you), on the couch, or even on the toilet. Legs, back, stomach, chest, arms, tail, face, neck. You name it and I have been there and left my mark. Looks like the worst case of chicken pox you have ever seen from head to toe. Shameful and embarrassing. I hate going out to the store or businesses, pleople always manage to notice and look at me like I am some kind of freak. But when they can't relate or don't understand the impulse, it is impossible for them to comprehend. I honestly feel like putting my hands in hand-cuffs to try to stop the madness! Never thought of bandages. I tried wearing long sleeves once for days, but where the sleeves rubbed my arms - guess what . . . more bumps to pick. UGGGGG! My husband always pats me on the arm and says "quit that" but I either get mad at him and do it anyway or find it again later when he isn't there to stop me. Affection is out of the question. Can you imagine running your hand down the arm of the one you love and feeling all that? Feels like an alligator's hide with all the scabs, scars, and callusing. Not to mention all the fresh oosing. Nasty, it's a wonder he can even still love me. My 3 year old always offers to kiss them and make them go away. I wish to God that she could!
August 02, 2009

In reply to by teresawalling

I'm new here, but so glad to hear that I'm not alone. I'm a 30yo mother of two and can't stop picking at my arms. The picking started when I was a teen (nails, scabs, etc.) but was never this bad. I've been under so much stress over the last 2 years and it has literally taken over my life. I used to love the summer, being outside, running, rollerblading, going to the pool, etc. Now, I'm wearing long sleeves all day and avoiding any playdates or outings that involve the pool. My husband tells me to "just stop" or "quit that" when he sees me picking, but it doesn't help at all. No one understands that the problem is in my head and I desperately need help. My therapist referred me to another doctor who has put me on various medications and now I'm up to 4 prescriptions. I've also had OCD since I was a child and the scarring on my arms just leads to more depression and anxiety. I'm hopeful that it will get better, but don't expect it to be anytime soon.
August 02, 2009

In reply to by 18721

i agree the scars are the worst. unlike nailbiting or twirling hair the scars will allways be there. I tell people i used to be a professional porcupine wrestler or that they've allways been there, don't you have any? but those are on the days i feel strong.
August 02, 2009

In reply to by j

I know what you mean. My mother was in the doctor's office the other day and she saw one of those posters with the people who are on meth, you know, the before and after pictures. And if you have ever seen one, the after pictures show them with all the scabs from head to toe. Well, the next time we got into an argument she accused me of being on meth. I said WHAT? And her answer was that my skin looked like those in the poster. I could not believe that my own mother would think that. And if she could think that, then that is probably what other people think too. So now I have even more anxiety that people are thinking I am a meth addict instead of just a picker. The other day I was talking to a local police officer and I noticed him looking at my arms. He tried not too, but I could tell that he was just drawn to it and couldn't stop looking. And after the fight with my mom, I knew exactly what that cop was probably thinking. Of course you cant just scream out that you don't do meth, cause then they think you really do. No one understands this disease . . . except other pickers.
October 25, 2009

In reply to by teresawalling

How very true - NO-ONE understands our problem except the pickers themselves and when we hear "stop it" or "look at the state of your arms" it just makes us worse and they never realise that - it makes me more stressed which means more picking!!!
January 30, 2012

In reply to by maddykins

Hello! it is so wonderful to have found this website to know that I am not alone!! I have been picking at my skin in some way or another since I can remember, but I noticed that it got much worse when I moved away from my comfort zone, and didn't know anyone, and was a having really tough time with life! It got so bad that my boyfriend threatened to break up with me several times. He couldn't understand how hard it was for me to "just Stop". Anyways I finally found a solution for me, and I couldn't be happier ! Although it hasn't completely stopped it has 95% of the time, and I will take that! I noticed it happened more when I was really stressed or bored! So I decided to do something about my anxiety! and I started working out a lot, and really concentrating my anxiety into my workouts, and it made me feel so much better! It wasn't right away but after six months I noticed a drastic difference! my scars are healing up, and IM NOT picking my face anymore, and my boyfriend compliments now it feels great! Im not saying work out necessarily, but find something you can loose yourself in, and do it everyday! something that makes u feel peaceful, and just really good about, and I promise it will help! thanks for listening, and I really mean all this I have been looking for something to help me for forever and this really worked for me! it doesn't hurt to try, and I promise it will help what helps what hurts all of us!
August 02, 2009

In reply to by 18721

Hi Sweetie. No you are not alone. It feels like you are I know. It still amazes me to hear people talk about doing the same thing I do, I surely thought I was the only person in the world who suffered with this. I hate it for myself and I hate it for all of you. Something that has helped me though, and I thought I might share it with you if it would offer one ounce of hope. Statisitcs say that only 1 % of us will successfully end this nightmare and I pray we are that 1 %. Here's what is working for me today. I was reading over info here on this site and saw where it was talking about the severity of pickers, whether you pick once a day or three to four times a day. Well, I got curious, I said to myself I wonder exactly how many times a day I do pick (probably hundreds, I said to myself). SOOOO, I started counting. Yes, counting. I wrote down every time I saw myself start picking and where the blemish was that I attempted to pick. Well, the first day I documented three picks (but remembered later picking 2 more). But still ONLY 5 times, boy was I impressed with myself. The next day, only three picks documented and none that I remembered later. Well that was 3 days ago. And yesterday I picked 3 bumps. So I said to myself, boy if I can limit myself to only 3 picks a day then that is a great start. So I did just that. Now today I picked one as soon as I woke up, and now I only have 2 picks left for the day. I found that documenting what I picked helped draw my attention to the fact that I was picking. And honestly, in only these 3 days (today being the 4th) I have seen a vast improvement in the way my arms look. I mean think about it, when we eat too much (i am overweight too) they say to write down when you eat (keeping a journal of it, is the term they use) and what you eat so that you learn what you are doing wrong and when you are the weakest. Well, it seems that could work here for us as well. By documenting, we are making ourselves aware of what we are doing and when we are doing it. I have already learned that I pick when I am sitting still, in the car, on the couch, and on the toilet. Oh, speaking of toilet. I found myself starting to pick a bump on the toilet yesterday (which would have been pick number 4) but I turned the light out and finished doing my business in the dark and well, I never did pick that bump. So I guess that worked too. Going from hundreds of picks a day to only 3 has given me a great sense of confidence that I can beat this thing. Try it and see if it works for you. Get a pencil and paper and anytime you find yourself picking or starting to pick then write it down. You might be pleasantly surprised just as I am. Still only one pick today and I am saving my other two picks for a really good bump. :) Let me know if this works for you!
January 11, 2012

In reply to by 18721

I know what it's like to pick you arms an finding it impossible to stop. But in my case, arms are the easiest to stop. I picked my arms for years. I've stopped now. But unfortunately my arms are not smooth anymore an I have white marks. But ive stopped. I don't know if this would help but in order to stop picking your arms, you have to try to think about it less and less an get a new habit. I never think about picking my arms... But my new habit was picking front,back and face. Don't do what I did. I know it's hard. But if you can change your habit into something other than picking your arms: you will be 3 steps ahead of me.... Or maybe four.. I doubt I'll ever get a bf with this habit XD. Hope that helped abit. Sorry if it didn't
August 09, 2009
You are NOT alone! I have recieved help and encouragement beyond my wildest dreams through phone meetings of Skin Pickers Anonymous. I started at six and I'm 30 years old and I pick everywhere on my body. I pick anywhere I can reach, sometimes for hours, and I pull my hair from my legs, chest, stomach, pubic area, and anywhere else I see "imperfections" I also pick my scalp and have had several very bad infections. I tried EVERYTHING to stop and over the years it's only gotten worse. I've tried cog behavior therapy, habit reversal therapy, talk therapy, blockers, abstinence, group therapy, online programs (not free) and every SSRI on the market. However, I recently found a 12 step group for skin pickers and now have HOPE and people I can reach out to for support. I have experienced repreive from my picking as I never have before! Today, I'm not facing this devistating illness alone and I no longer have to "figure it out." It's a HUGE relief and I have seen MIRACLES of healing and recovery. Please call in if you need support. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. SKIN PICKERS ANONYMOUS PHONE MEETING - Sundays at 7PM EST. Call in #: 1-270-696-2525 / Access Code: 12128
October 25, 2009
I'm 16 years old and i know exactly what your going through. I've been picking at my arms since i was 8. My family has done everything they could to get me to stop but there hasn't been much luck. I get really motivated to stop and I might last a day, maybe two. But there isn't any success. People always ask me "whats wrong with your arms?!" or "OMG! what happened?!" and it just makes me feel TERRIBLE!! I feel awful because my little sister saw me doing it and she started too. I NEED to stop for both me and for my little sister. I just signed up so hopefully we can find something to help and cure our problem together. :] best of wishes -alicia
Concerned Mom
October 26, 2009
I am the mother of a little girl who picks. I made her wear socks on her hands so she could not use her fingers/fingernails to pick. At first it was all day. Then, I would put them on her only if she attempted to pick. She did not like it, of course. But, it has now been a week or more and she is not picking! Her legs and arms are healed for the first time in months!! And she made the decision to stop because she wanted her hands free. I know this is harder to consider with being an adult and having to do all that adults do...but maybe you could cover your hands/nails in situations where it is the in your car wear driving gloves or put socks on your hands when at home if you pick when bored or watching TV? It's just a worked for us.
November 09, 2009
hi, i've picked my skin for the last couple of years and i actually can't take it anymore, i really can't, i hate it. i didn't even know it was any sort of condition until i just decided to try and google it. i target my legs to the point where i can't wear shorts and my bikini area so i won't go swimming. i joke it off as achne, the only person who suspects is my boyfriend but i'm strangely good at hiding it from him, or he knowns and doesn't know what to say to me. i've read people talking about medication but i definatly will not take any tables as im not depressed. anyway, i'd just like to know of anyone has anything similar to what i do as i feel like the only person in the world who does this ridiculous thing.. i squeeze fair follicles on my legs like they're blackheads and i dig until i find ingrowning hairs or blood comes out. i've noticed i always seem to do it just before i jump into the shower or i'll do it during my bath. i would really like to book an appointment with a doctor, but i honestly feel like they won't understand and just think im depressed and palm me off with that crap. i'd appreciate it if anyone had any straight up advice. thanks.
August 07, 2010

In reply to by fly_away101

Hi, I know your post is sort of old, so I hope you still check this forum...I do the same thing as you, with squeezing the hair follicles on my legs because they're similar to blackheads. I also dig around for ingrown hairs, which is terrible because when I find one I use a needle to remove it, which just leaves a bigger thing to pick at. I'm so glad I googled this today, because I thought I was the only one who did that! Have you had any success with stopping? The only thing I've done thats helped at all is using fake nails, but they only prevent me from digging at my legs for a few days before I overcome how strange they feel, then I'm back to picking. I can never wear shorts because my legs are too covered with cuts and scars that I can't pretend are mosquito bites anymore:( But god I'm glad I'm not the only one who does this! You're not alone.
May 01, 2011

In reply to by trisha

i do the same thing! i wasn't sure how common picking the hair follicles are. ive been picking my face chest arms and legs for the past few years now, and just recently ive noticed all the little blackish blue dots under my skin on my legs. oh my gosh, i went crazy. for the past month ive had scabs covering my legs and already developed bad scars. ive tried the fake nails, but it doesnt work for me, so instead i file my nails so short to the point where it hurts my fingers badly when i push against my skin. also, ive notcied, shaving and especially waxing really causes all of the weird hair follicles and ingrowns, so ive decided to stop shaving. and i tried using the hair remover Nair, which oddly as sensative as my skin is, it works very well for me and doesnt cause ingrowns. im so happy to know im not the only one who does this!
August 08, 2010
Hello, yes I too am glad I am not alone. I have been picking since I was around nine years old, I am 40 now. I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse and torture/neglect for over five solid daily years, which has caused mine. You have to get to the root of your problem to stop this insanity, and I too struggle STILL with the picking. I JUST told my therapist about it THIS year, and busted out crying. I tried to hide it from my husband and did for a long time but I finally showed him. My mom just feels so guilty for not being there for me as a child going through what she could have prevented, and makes her so sad to see this. I have one GIANT part of my body that I have picked for around 2 years now, it looks wretched. I get it all healed up, mostly then something will upset me, or go wrong, etc., and I will rip it all back open and the blood will make me so upset and mad at myself for doing it. So good luck to you all, this is such a horrible disorder and I wish I too could stop. I pray on it, but most time I do it not even thinking about it. THEN I will get a handful of blood and away I go to the bathroom. I have spent so much money on bandages, Neosporin and such, I dunno folks. Bad stuff, I too wish I could be free of this...someday....
September 15, 2010
Wow and hello everyone! Just found this website as I am at wits end, as they say. I have been picking for years and now that I am hitting the menopause stage, I think it is getting worse. My doctor says it is an anxiety thing and I think she is right. I did pay attention to when I pick and many times I do it unconsciously when I am focused on something else like working at the computer or in bed reading. I like the idea of wearing a sock or a glove but I think I would have to wear it all the time since I am "having the urge" quite frequently. I also started on anti-depressants to see if that would help my "anxiety" but going to give them a few more weeks to see if they are really helping or not. I pray, meditate, exercise and do yoga, and counseling so don't know what else to do. I think if we all put our heads together we can overcome this thing, There has got to be a common denominator causing us to do this hurtful and embarrasing behavior. I am starting to wonder if it is a self-esteem issue perhaps in some way? I am not giving up though and I believe we can beat this thing! Hang in there everybody and let's keep supporting each other. God still loves us no matter what.
September 16, 2010
This is my first time to face and verbalize to anyone else that I have a problem. I recently got off of hormone replacement therapy ( yes, I am that old) and my face went crazy! So after one month I finally gave up and got back on HRT. My face is awful. Not only do I mess with it, but I get the twizzers and a magnifying mirror and make it worse. I have prayed, I have tried to will myself to quit, and nothing works. I work as a decorator and have to be in close proximity ( up close and personal) with my clients. It is debilitating and humiliating to have this problem. I haven't figured out why that I always seem to sabotage myself when my face is almost well. I will find a small place and mess with it. My dermatologists has not confronted me about this issue. He just keeps treating the acne. I am very good at covering up with make up, so few people know just how bad it is. Please tell me there are some people out there that have overcome this and that there is hope! I feel like becoming a recluse but I can't!!! I have a job, a wonderful caring husband and 7 grandchildren that love me boo boos and all.
November 23, 2010
I'm only 20 and I've been picking since 12 and it just seems to get worse. It started with my face then went to my arms, chest, back, legs. It kills me that I used to be tan, loved to swim and had nice skin. I refuse to wear a bathing suit or go swimming unless its at night. I try to stay inside most the summer and can't wait till it gets cold so I have an excuse to wear so much clothing. People always catch me reaching in my clothes to pick at something and they always ask what I'm doing and I play it off as an itch. I hate this and the more I give in and let myself do it the worse it gets. Now I'm scarred for life and even if I got over this I would still be embarred to wear A tank top or shorts outside and everyone always stares at my scars. Theres to many now to make up excuses for. I have times where I let everything clear up and then have an episode where I go all out. I try to always keep myself around people and busy.I do it a lot more when I'm alone. I'm really glad to hear there are others out there and it would be nice to have someone to talk to who has the same problem.

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