Scared for 3 1/2-year-old toddler who says she can't stop picking...says she itches?


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October 16, 2009

No, you did not cause this problem! You are helping your daughter, while your husband has left! Even moms are human beings, and it is no good feeling guilty for being depressed! It is very understandable that you have been depressed. As your daughter is a child, she loves you and wants you to be happy, and not feel guilty. Try to be proud of yourself instead, and your daughter will take after! One can read between your lines that you really care for your daughter, and that you are being very good and loving with her!
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October 19, 2009

Well, it seems your daughter was hurting herself for a long time since she was born ( I'm the same way as she does too, my aunt told me about it and I just found out). You shouldn't spanked her because she might be ended up for pickings alots and feeling lonely at times. Just make sure, you will tell her that you loves her and wanting to help her to stop picking but I know it is not that easy but it gotten better when she gets older. Mabye, she could be any normal child so it could be wrong with her so I just suggust you ask you rfamily doctors about her conditions. I know she can't stop but she have to learned on her hard way out of it. Just tell her, what have been bothering or what makes her upset about? Was she thinking consantly like a having a bad thoughts? Please, take a good care of your daughter and make sure you will clean it up and until she gets healed beforehand or afterhand, Don't punish herself because you could hurt her feelings and can't not get away from this madness starts all over again. Let me know what she can do about it..
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October 16, 2009

I have been a picker since I was at least 5, (I am now 31). I have twins, (born one month premature) and the one who was born smaller has always showed signs of slight autism. They are now 7 but I have never gotten the one professionally tested because he is highly functional and we home school. Also, we would never put him on meds for such a slight condition. Anyway, my point is, the twin with "autism" has engaged in some form of "tick" or compulsive habit since he was 3. At first it was hair pulling which ended up in a large patch of completely bare scalp. We worked with him for about 2 or 3 months until it was no longer an issue. Since that, he has had various other compulsions. Have you considered your daughter may have a mild form of autism? If so, she may have just been born with this condition...or in my son's case, may have developed the autism from immunizations.
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October 16, 2009

I have ocasionally thought that she seemed to have autistic traits...and it worse at 2 to 2 1/2 after getting vaccines...I remember a friend (she also home schools) telling me after that i could have refused them, but I did not know that. My mom thought I was crazy to suggest the vaccines were bad! My daughter seems very normal most of the time. She has the pick compulsion, she is a bit of a loner...prefers adults to kids...but I just thought this was because she was always with me and we did not do enough play dates with kids. There is only one cousin her age and she lives in another town. She tells me at her headstart she likes to play with the teachers, but not the kids...they smell funny she says?? She has always been sensitive to smell and bright light. When I take her to the library storytime, she will participate...but if one of the kids next to her tries to get too close or friendly, she will scowl at them and turn her face away. she thinks kids want to take her things a lot...and she gets upset if she can't find a special toy. Also, if she has been naughty, she will fidget/squirm or play with things (i.e. my buttons) instead of looking at my face. If i ask her to look at me, she will for a second, but then slowly diverts her eyes. if she is really upset, she will cry and scream for things. Like, scream like she is dying for a glass of water or a kleenex...i think just to get away from me. she has said "please don't touch me mommy" when mad at me...but normally she is full of cuddles. Do these sound like symptoms of mild autism to you? Does your son do any of this? I think there is a disorder called Asberger's that is similar to autism. My pediatrician really upset me when I tried to talk to her...I liked her up to this point. I explained the situation of picking. she asked me if my daughter bit her nails. I said no. she smiled and said "that will be next". Otherwise, she blew it off as a bad habit that she will grow out of...I'm not convinced of that because of the trouble we're having. Thanks for the support!
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October 17, 2009

It is usually not easy, or even possible to give an Asperger syndrome diagnosis for children that young. I think it is normal for a child her age to rather play with adults, but I'm not sure. It is also very normal to avoid eye contact when ashamed (i.e. for being naughty). To me, those things you describe do not sound like symptoms of mild autism.
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November 28, 2009

I also am a concerned momma. The reason I am concerned is because my four year old has started picking too. I have been a "picker" since around 8 years old, possibly earlier. My first memory of picking is when I was 8. I had a bike accident. 90% of my skin was torn off by the pavement, my mother had to cover me with vitamin E oil. This saved my from massive scars. However I remember sitting in the driveway one day and my bestfriend wanted to play, but I said I was busy. I was too busy picking the scabs off my legs. Over the last twenty years I have moved from my legs to my upper back and shoulders. Then I began picking at my face. Not to be vain but I am a very beautiful woman. When my face is clear. When it is not because picking I look horrible. Up to twenty + red marks all over my face, mostly on my chin and forehead. It was never looked at as more than a bad habit until I started dating my husband. He made me realize that I was doing this in my sleep, when watching moveis, in the car, everywhere. I am completely unaware of what I am doing most of the time. Other times it is tweezers and the magnified mirror. Nothing but damage. I hate what I have done to my face and need to stop. NEED to stop. My daughter has inherited this horrible disorder, as I in herited it frm my motherwho is a cuticle picker. I wish when I was young that someone, anyone, looked closely enough to take me to a professional. We are talking to professionals now about my daughter. We have a code word we use when we catch each other picking and she too wears gloves at night and for naps. I wore them for years but just took them off in my sleep. I'd wake up and put them back on only to discover blood under my nails in the morning. I do not wish this for my daughter. It is severe OCD for me and she shows other signs of OCD too. I have many forms but the only damaging one is the picking. Do WHATEVER you can to help her. If you get it under control now she will be able to live her life fully without wanting to hide behind people in pictures, cake on the makeup, which really doesn't hide anything. Or not want to go out at all. I wish you the best of luck with your daughter and would love to talk more if I can help you in anyway.
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December 04, 2009

I have two observations here.....of my three kids, I have suspected (since he was 3) that my oldest (14), very mathematically gifted son has Aspergers and I'm only now finally going through an pscyh eval to find out for sure....(it won't be complete until Jan.) and he has NO traits of OCD or picking/scratching. In fact his face is loaded with whitehead pimples that I am tempted to want to pick at ! (maybe I should have been a dermatologist). He never seems to notice them..... My second son (9) who is definitely not as "smart" as the first (in terms of IQ), is the stomach eczema scratcher. He is a very loving, verbal child with tons of friends, and no signs of autism/Aspergers. My second observation is that last night the second (cuddly scratching son) wanted me to "snuggle" with him before he went to sleep. Well of course I ended up falling asleep in his bed and an hour or so later I heard this hollow sctch sctch sound. At first I thought it was the pet mouse in his cage, but then realized my son is doing the scratching on his stomach in his sleep. He was really tearing himself up ! So I briefly woke him up and he was surprised to know that was how it was happening....so now I"m thinking that in his case, he isn't doing it consciously, as I previously thought, and that is why he, too, was shocked and perplexed at his rash when he put clothes on in the morning. (I think he thinks that God was doing this to him or something)..... I put some antibacterial ointment on it last night and he fell back asleep and hopefully didn't scratch it off. I could try the cotton gloves thing but I would think he would just pull them off in his sleep. I will instead try to put on a protective moisturizer like Eucerin before bed....he is quite capable of putting it on himself, but he truly won't do it, either too lazy or perhaps he wants the attention from me, so I'm going to committ to doing it......The dermatologists I took him to in the past said they didn't want me to put hydrocortisone on it, as this would weaken the skin, he is supposed to have lotion on him every day instead, but it's such a chore and I wish he would do it himself (I think if I ask him to do it he'll just lie and say he did, he will, etc.). We live in a dry place and it is cold (near Denver) so the heater is on right now and this probably makes it all worse.....
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December 03, 2009

I am a secret scab scratcher and now my 9 year old son started scratching at eczema on his stomach a few years back and nothing seems to change his behavior and I know what it feels like....actually I try to ignore it as much as possible....I think there is some biological explanation for the behavior...my son doesn't know that I do this too (and it's a little different in that I pick acne to death and he scratches eczema on his stomach). I have had eczema twice (once on a finger and once on a nipple)....it was horrible but actually scratching made it worse for sure (it would weep, become raw and sore)....I've tried eliminating foods but it didn't help....I think it's a type of "grooming instinct" gone awry. I mean think about it, throughout human history people probably had to pick lice, fleas etc. out of each other's hair/body/clothes/bedding on a daily basis (not to mention boll weavils and other assorted bugs out of food) and perhaps we just have some leftover manifestation of this need that is not being fulfilled I have seen people picking lice out of each other's hair in both India and Mexico. I don't think you should make your kids feel guilty about it....just ignore it, they don't need guilt on top of everything....they are doing it for a reason and it has nothing to do with you....what I mean is that they are getting some type of pscyhological satisfaction from it, so if it is helping them, let them do it....
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October 17, 2009

I think the sock on the hand idea is amazing, obviously works- and while we all lose our tempers you know it is far more productive than making her feel guilty (not your goal) or hurt (not your goal). I wish my parents had done that with me when I was a kid. Then, you get to congratulate her for not picking too!- I picked as a kid- and was a wierd kid and did other stuff as well- my parents did not know what to do with me.. . but i wish they had tried. I think seeing a behavioral therapist if you can would be a great idea, someone who can give you both some support and ideas in dealing with anxiety like meditation or other relaxation techniques-- most kids (considering kid friendly therapy and instruction) take very well to breathing as a way to relax. Its kind of impossible not to. maybe you could include 5 deep breaths with the routine of putting on the socks. and then a congratulations and also recognition of how you know it 'itches' ! but the only way to make it stop itching is to let it heal. man if i could teach that to myself... anyone can relearn most behaviors, and kids faster than adults- I say the sooner the better. and way to go for trying to do something!
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October 20, 2009

Try to take her to a dermatoligist. The urge to scratch because she feels itchy is real, even in her sleep. It's like an atomatic body response. It may very well be a food allergy. Sometimes Benedryl can help with the "itchy" feeling. Also an allergist can skin test her to see what exactly she is allergic to. But that "itchy feeling is very real to her. I'm glad you are trying to help her. My mother just thought that I was crazy, She never tried to figure out why. I did what I do, and now as an older women I still do it.
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October 20, 2009

I think I will have her tested for food allergies...I have a good friend who is gluten intolerant and her son had eczema. They have gone wheat free and he is better. I have begun a "test diet" of cutting out gluten...it's hard...it's in everything! Well see if this results in less itchies. She had eczema early on too. A great update, though. yesterday in the car, she was singing and smiling. I commented, "Oh, what a good mood you are in today baby girl!" She smiled and nodded and said, "I'm not going to pick today." We have had soooo many discussions about how it is wrong to hurt herself, and she made a conscious decision to not do it! She said, "If I feel like an itch, I'm going to pick up a toy with my hands." This is also something I recomended previously...keeping her hands busy. I was proud and told her she was making a good decision! It has been a couple of days...today is the third day...and the dozen or so spots on her legs are healing quickly! She has one spot on her hand that she has picked a couple of times. I feel she is trying so hard...so young and trying so hard! I only owe to her to find out why she itches. I'm doing the gluten-free diet because I know from friends and family that it has been essential in their health! I will have her allergy tested soon too. Again, thanks everyone for the support and helping a mom out!
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October 23, 2009

I'm glad that she is doing much better in a couple of days ago and you are going to proud of her for not picking, that's great! She will keep going while she playing with her toys and keeps her hands busy at times while she is not picking but I know is is hard to do it but don't worry about..Just let us know how she is doing on these days so you have to update how she is getting along and all that stuffs much going on in her life. It's a huge recovery for her and I know she can do it for herself..
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December 01, 2009

I'm so glad you decided to go back to the gluten-free diet. I have a friend who experienced eczema for years until she finally gave up gluten. I can't believe how great her skin looks now! Other problems such as sinusitis also went away. Gluten intolerance is so much more prevalent than anyone thought, and unfortunately dietary sensetivites are often overlooked by many doctors!
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November 29, 2009

Oh my gosh, my 4 1/2 year old daughter is going through exactly the same behavior. She keeps picking and picking until she makes hideous sores on her legs that bleed then says....mommy I picked my boo boos. She is also extremely verbal and has been from a very young age. My husband and I have been having some issues lately and her picking has gotten worse and worse. I asked my doctor and she thinks it is anxiety manifesting itself. The doctor really scared me because she said that this is the behavior that eventually leads to cutting in teen years. I have done all the same things with cutting down her fingernails, using band aids, neosporin, benadryl, caladryl. Her legs look horrible and I keep trying to explain that she is making ugly scars that won't go away but she doesn't seem to be able to stop. I have also noticed a couple of other behaviors such as hoarding in certain areas of the house (keeping literally garbage and having an absolute screaming crying fit if I try to throw it out) and is very obsessive about food and constantly worried that she is going to miss out on something. If you have any insights into these personality traits and how to deal with them it would be appreciated. Best, stressedout in FL
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November 29, 2009

I have been doing lots of little things...and actually had to change my behavior towards her picking too! We have had wonderful improvement. First step for us was gloves. The second step (this was my behavior change) I stopped freaking out, which took the attention away...just in case she was craving negative attention. I would calmly say something like "honey, please put your pant leg down" or if I saw her start to pick on the way somewhere, like storytime at the library, I would say calmly "I hope you're not going to make a boo-boo, because we will have to go home to clean up and then story time will be over" and she would usually stop. This took a lot of time!! But my change in behavior helped. Instead of becoming freaked out and alarmed when I found a picked boo-boo, I would act sad, clean her up and then have her help me spread on lotion or neosporin. I taught her to "show herself love" I called it, buy softly rubbing an itchy boo-boo or tapping it to get rid of itch. I began daily to have her help me rub lotion or baby oil on her legs arms and tummy. Sort of like baby massages, and say little things like "look at these little toes" etc hoping she would realize how precious she and her body is! The first day she went without picking, I scooped her up, hugged her and whispered "I'm so proud of my girl. No picking today! I knew you could do it! Your growing into such a big girl" she loved the praise and would announce to me "no picking today mommy" when I put her to bed. Gradually she has seemed to let it go......However, she is know sucking on her fingers! So be prepared for transfered behavior. Additionally, I do believe my daughter has anxiety. I did too, but did not know until I was adult what was going on. I found a book that has helped us "work things out" too. It is called "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD. It is a book of connection, solving behavior problems and helping kids let out the stuff (anxiety, anger, etc.) and helps build their confidence. My daughter also has some anger, along with the anxiety. I'm using these techniques to help her let it out healthy! It's amazing how much stress/fear a child can hold onto! This book really opened my eyes! My doctor blew me off and laughed at me when I told her I was scared for my daughter...I was thinking "oh my god...what if this leads to cutting" in the back of my mind. I think we are on the right track now. I'm also spending a lot of extra time with my daughter any time she shows anxiety. No matter how silly to me it seems to have a fit over moving a toy she has in a perfect spot...it is real to her. I have found some of the best therapy is to hug, hug and hug her/hold her on my lap through the crying and just listen to whatever the little one says. Empathy! And my daughter always feels better if I tell her "your not the only one". If i can identify with her, I tell my stories, like I fell down in front of everyone once too or I used to be afraid of the dark too, etc. Remember to take a deep breath first! Good luck! Good Luck!
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November 30, 2009

Awesome! I love how you looked at so many aspects of her behavior, including how your own affects her. To me, that is what good parenting is all about. Regardless of why she does it, clearly it's something she's dealt with from the very beginning. So, what a good step to show her how to deal with those feelings and care for herself, instead of just freaking out and possibly hurting her. By being positive and gentle, you are helping her in ways that could change her life. Don't ever just accept it, as you wouldn't accept her hurting someone else. My history is a bit interesting in that my mom tells me of times when she would find me, sometime around 1 year of age, raking my knuckles along the wall (which was rough). I would be bleeding, with blood all over the wall. Sounds pretty freaky. As a kid, I also remember my mom always getting on to me for picking my scabs, too. Don't want to scare you, but I did have many self-injury type behaviors--not cutting actually, but hitting and biting myself. Those continued alongside the picking from my teen years into my late twenties. I'm now 32 and still have the picking problem. Don't know what kind of stress might be present in your household, if your husband isn't there. I know that mine as a child was extremely stressful and scary, which may have played a role.
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August 16, 2012

Omg I got so teary eyed wen I read this I dnt really have any answers for u all I can say is that my daughter is 45months old and she has the exact same problems..we are in the hospital now for many reasons today one of them bein that she picks her skin til she bleeds and I have always told her not to do it but she has developmental problems so im not sure if she jus doesnt wana listen or if sumthins really wrong..? She tells us theres a bug and picks but there is nuthing there but she also does it wen shes bored or really anxious. She has bad anxiety and also insomnia that she takes valium for it has helped the pickin wen she takes it. Her psychiatrist and i talk about it all the time because its such a big thing with her. She also mentioned gloves or tube socks but she sneaks the gloves off and we havent found socks that will stay on..lol and also her uncle had a Very Bad picking problem as a child for years and still has scars. I really think its the anxiety and I hope its nuthing worse. She also was diagnosed with Asperges Syndrome...she throws the worst fits ever and half the time we dnt know y but all she says is "because"..she is also known for "assuming" if i get a shower she freaks out looking for her shoes because she thinks we are leaving and if her dad goes in the kitchen she thi.ks hes gettin her "cup". Her father n i have been apart and back too many times and i worry its my fault but i do the very best for her and my other 2(1 older 1younger). Her cits also happen with changes..like wen preschool was out for easter break she stopped eating for Days..Wen she was out for X-mas break more fits about nuthing at all.... I've read about autism and there are so many factors she has but others dnt want her labeled because she is so very bright. But to me its who she is and i jus want to know how to help her.. But i just wNted to say that i never thought i wld vind any1 that had similzr things they were dealing with let alone almost exactly the same "picking" issue...thank u for shareN it helps knowing...i hope things get better for u and sry if i was no help..
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August 16, 2012

This is for all the worried moms...Things can get better! I posted this a long time ago and things are soooo much better now. My daughter does not pick any more. Sure, there's ocasionally a mosquito or bug bite that gets scratched, but it is not an obsession anymore. She can stop and does stop. She is 6 and just started 1st grade. She is currently in counseling for anxiety and is doing excellent. We have both found that relaxing can do wonders! This really was fueled by anxiety. The only advice I can offer is Love and Patience...and for us a good anxiety counselor! I found (and I'm sure many of you agree) a lot of support just knowing I was not the only mom going through this with their child. I just wanted to say Good Luck to all the worried moms. Hang in there and it can/will get better. God Bless!
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January 24, 2019

My 7yr old daughter picks insect bites compulsively and it’s literally driving me crazy her legs,arms, and face are covered with scab marks. She picks at them so much they look as if someone put out a cigarette on her they look horrible! Ived had nurse’s from the schools call me asking what happened. I find blood stains on her clothes her bed sheets basically everywhere, I tell her how much it bothers me but she says she can’t stop that they itch so much. We run through boxes of bandaids I rub aloe vera tons of oitments nothing works. Its quite surprising though because i stumbled upon this forum, I read some of the comments how some people mention something about autism because my daughter just so happens to be high functioning autistic I honestly didn’t think it had something to do with that but maybe it does.