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allegory , 13 Mar 2010

Cuticle biting, anyone?

By cuticle I guess I mean the skin around the nails in its entirety. I've been picking and biting since I was six, am 26 now...... I noticed that most people here are face and scab pickers, which I do as well but not as obsessively........ My fingers are swelled, red, scarred, knobby knuckled, slightly clubbed nails........... It's beyond disgusting........... Other than this, I'm normal looking. I've always been told I'm attractive. The look of surprise and veiled disgust when people notice my fingers is so disheartening. It hurts physically, as well, and prevents me from doing things I need to do on a daily basis. Washing the dishes, painting, preparing food, whatever........... Not to mention the risk of infection and contracting some disease while in public because I always have open cuts on my fingers!!!!!!! Anyway, we all know the drill! Just wondering if there are any other dermatophagia sufferers out there who mainly attack the cuticle skin........ Also a question for everyone: Do you notice that when you're in the midst of a picking/biting session that you're barely breathing? I just noticed that. After I'm finished I take a deep breath and my lungs feel tight and my head is swimming. I guess it's the result of all the anxiety......... I'm thinking about trying breathing exercises and meditation as a prevention method. Someone mentioned putting band aids on in public as a reminder and/or shaming method. I think that might be helpful for me because I really don't leave the house if I've had a bad day. I need to realize that it IS noticeable, it IS horrid, it's no better than walking around drunk or on drugs and I need to treat this as a serious problem that needs to be addressed now........... Have a good day everyone.
16 Answers
March 13, 2010
i feel for you. i truly do. i have, only periodically, attacked my cuticles too and it sure is painful. perhaps that's part of why i didn't continue with it and concentrated my efforts elsewhere over time. i've never noticed whether i breathe only barely when i've been in an episode but i don't doubt at all that i have very likely been. i think that we pickers find some consolation in the picking by the various descriptions of it that have been described such as it being trance-like even. that this affliction might be a reaction to anxiety is undoubtable in my estimation. any and all efforts to address our anxieties couldn't help but be beneficial. i think that breathing and or meditation exercises as a prevention method might be good ideas but not likely alone. the insidiousness of this affliction very likely requires the use of many combined approaches to overcome it. acknowledging it is the first step, understanding it is another, and researching all possible approaches that would likely be required as per the situation, and determination to stick with chosen efforts are others. i am a strong believer about using bandages, not so much as a reminder and/or shaming method, although if that works it's good i suppose, but more so about keeping wounds protected from infection and allowing for healing to take place quickly, as well as preventing further infliction of damage to the injury. this affliction does need to be treated as a serious problem because it certainly is one. any open wound is subject to a serious infection. if bandaging up will help you get out in the world rather than confining yourself in shame, then by all means, do it. it will also be kind to your wounds and permit healing to take place. keep the bandages on as long as possible. be loving to those areas rather than making war on them. acknowledge the problem and the solutions that will work for you and employ those that make sense to you. be diligent about it. lack of pain, healed skin, lack of shame, empowerment about winning the battle are great rewards for sincere efforts. i am on DAY 18 with no picking! i even faced the world yesterday without makeup! each day is still an effort, but so far i'm beating this and i feel proud and that perhaps i might be somewhat of an inspiration to others. all the best to you. keep in touch. :)
March 15, 2010

In reply to by wildflower

Thanks for your responses everyone. It's a bit of consolation to know I'm not the only one, and to know that there are people winning the battle! It's definitely an inspiration. The spring is coming and I want to be feeling and looking good this year. No more hiding. I've even started to talk about it with my close family and friends. It's embarassing but I figure they've known me my entire life or most of it and were making assumptions anyway. It's a weight off the shoulders.............. I'll keep in touch with my progress. :)
March 14, 2010
I'm with you, here. I mostly pick and bite the skin on my hands and fingers. It is disgusting and embarrassing and painful. Ive been picking my fingers for years now, and my two fore fingers and thumbs are the worst. My fingers are always bloody and raw and extremely senestive to touch and heat and cold. As you said, it makes everyday tasks difficult and a burden :( usually I pick while in a class or while reading. I cant really say whether I hold my breath while picking. I have used bandaids to cover my bloody fingers and to prevent myself from picking. However, I usually wind up picking the band aid to pieces and then starting again on my fingers. :P You are right, it is noticeable and very upsetting, but we can make it through it! With some help and support, maybe we'll be able to stop picking once and for all. xox
March 14, 2010
Hi allegory, yeah I have the same problem...I started picking and ripping out the hangnails and cuticles from the corners of my nails, but then I go even further and start tearing away at the skin all around the nail until i'm satisfied and the excess loose skin gets too hard to pick anymore....then i search my other fingers for another hangnail cuticle and start again...sometimes I can get about 4 or maybe 5 fingers done at a time and then i'm pretty much set for 1 - 3 weeks until another hangnail appears. A few times i've actually picked my finger so bad and deep.....that when it heals....the skin on the side of my nail grows OVER the top of my finger nail so that it can't actually heal itself properly and part of my Fignernail is embedded still INSIDE of my hurt alot and I got very worried that my finger would be permanantly I tried to cut my finger nail as much as possible and push the skin back into place to let out the pressure so it could heal naturally....luckily it worked and all good again. Another few times i've torn all the skin off so much around the's just red all around...I don't bite the nails much...and luckily I don't go out much in public except to work or shopping occasionally......but at the moment my nails and fingers are ok, i'm back to picking my lips now hehe (sigh)
March 16, 2010
Finally! there is someone out there with the very same problem that I have! I started in the 5th grade and know i'm a freshman in College. the skin on my fingers is all knotted and hard but it all starts with when you picking at your cuticles right? I think what keeps my picking is that the red and knotted skin is so dry, almost like its calloused, which makes me want to pick at the dry skin even more! they look so gross right now. I just got back from visiting my boyfriend two days ago and he was keeping me from picking at my skin, but now that i'm back in school I'll have to rely on myself to stop this icky cycle of picking. As for the painful feeling, I know how annoying it is. My family is Italian and every summer we are making tomatoe sauce, and i'm always helping with cutting up the tomatoes, and the acid from them stings like hell! There was also art class back in middle school, where the class would be working with clay. and the clay would be getting all over my hands and fingers. It would dry up and get into the cuts, and make my fingers even more gross. As for trying to cure yourself, i've used bandaids before and when someone asks i use to tell people that i hurt myself doing yard work, but not many ppl notice (or they don't care). Bandaids are helpful but after awhile it does become expensive since you'll go through them fast, also they get in the way with cooking and showering as well. I usually wear gloves. it has its downsides too, but they last longer. maybe you can get yourself a pair of thin gloves? unfortunatley i only have wool gloves from CVS. they are nice but a bit on the thick side, but I got use to it!! People asked me why i wear them in class and i told them i have poor blood circulation and my hands feel too cold. Does the skin where you pick your fingers feel dry or caullosed? if they do i would recommend putting aquaphore/vasaline or some kind of lotion to the dry knobby areas on your fingers and then put on a pair of gloves. Its better if you do this at night, so the lotion can soften the skin, and you won't be picking. You notice your fingers are healing after a couple of days, just remember that you need to dedicate yourself to this, or you won't notice any progress. It was working for me for awhile, and unfortunatley i stopped out of laziness. But your article has inspired me to try again! Thanks and I hope this is helpful! an apple before bed keeps the docotor from earning his bread
March 16, 2010

In reply to by magpie

Your experience sounds so similar to mine, magpie. Well I see myself in all of these stories which is why I posted here. It's good to know I'm not alone and getting these thread updates in my email is reminding me not to bite. I have been biting the past half hour out of stress and unfortunately did some damage that'll take a few days to heal...... To answer your question magpie: Oh yes, they are dry and calloused! And this is when it's most tempting to pick and bite, when it's just starting to heal and there's the hard dry bits. It doesn't even hurt much because it's mostly dead skin or scar tissue. Ugh! I know what you mean about the tomatoes. lol. One of my most traumatizing experiences was when in art class we had to draw our own hand (it wasn't my most realistic drawing ;) and when I went to a party where they had a lady doing free hand massages and selling moisturizer. I passed on the hand massage and she loudly chided me for it, I was like "lady, if you saw my hands you'd understand why I'm not up for a hand massage. No amount of q-10 b vitamin blah blah blah is going to help THIS."....... I've bought my LAST box of band aids, polysporin and disposable plastic gloves. I am between jobs so hopefully this week will be a good one to let them heal. Thanks again for responding, everyone. Talk to you soon.
March 16, 2010

In reply to by allegory

Drawing your hand! Oh God! I took a portfolio class during my senior year in high school. We were supposed to pick an object as our subject and create four pieces of art, but each piece had to be based on a certain artist's style. I chose my hand for that project! It was kind of cool being able to show my work, like making people aware of this problem. One of them was based on Emma Black's art style, and it was just a pair of lips, with a finger between them, and blood was trailing down the finger, and on the lips (dear god this sounds gross!). Right now i'm working on a paper mache hand, but i cut off the tops of the fingers and then i'm going to replace them with thin wires that are made to look like the missing finger parts! It would be neat if i could add fake nails or something....Anywho! I hope the gloves work for you!!! :) an apple before bed keeps the docotor from earning his bread
March 27, 2010
HI I am the same. Reading all the responses has reminded me of all the things that hurt i.e. peeling oranges ouch - I have to ask others to do it for me. I also remembered I used to bite the insides of my cheeks I was definately doing this at 16/17 years of age. Once when i let ym fingers heal I got acrylic nails and it stopped me picking for a while. I have both thumbs in small plasters tonight and I am currently on a mission for them to heal for a while at least. i have thought i just need to look after and be kinder to my hands, I have had times of doing this by rubbing in cream regularly to keep the skin smooth thus reducing anything to pick with ease.
April 04, 2010
Starting my freshman year of high school, and on, I would never stop biting and picking at my cuticles. I was just bored, and I couldn't control myself if I tried. some of my teachers yelled at me because for them to view it during my classes was a pet peeve. It also made me very self conscience because to others I would think to be seen as a strange or unattractive thing to do. It delayed me from getting my work done. I would pick and bite my nails down way too short and my cuticles would bleed and get scabs, then I would pick those scabs. It was EXTREMELY PAINFUL, yet I was unable to stop. Over time it got better, but never 100% better. Even now I still pick/bite at them on occasion, but it no longer is a matter of my health. The bad thing I do now is take the cutter on a nail clipper and peel off some layers of my nail by the cuticles. The good thing is that I feel no pain, but it still is not a normal obsession to have. I reget it every time, but still manage to do it when it when the layers grow back. The cuts on my nails are visible and they make my nail uneven, so I try to buff them afterwards, but I still feel bad for doing it in the first place.
April 10, 2010
Please keep posting on your progress! I, like you, have been picking my nails since I can remember. I feel like I have spent my entire life trying to figure out how to stop! It is a serious problem, and I am so thankful that there are places like this for help and information. Good luck to you!
April 10, 2010

In reply to by kcooksey25

Hi again everyone. Unfortunately I have no progress to speak of. I'm facing an impending move overseas to a country I've never seen and I'm really not ready for. Needless to say, my anxiety has been through the roof and I've been biting and picking. It just makes everything worse and I know now is the time to find another way to battle the anxiety. It sucks that just one bad day can ruin an entire week with the results. I could have accomplished a number of things this past week that would have alleviated some of the stress, but instead of doing that I'm here nursing my wounds... physical and emotional... sigh. Someone mentioned on another thread that they're viewing this problem like an addiction, like alcoholism. It's different of course but in a way it's just the same. It needs to be treated seriously and I vow to start doing so today and on. My actual fingernails are in good shape and I think I'm going to paint them for the first time in years in an effort to keep from picking and biting. I'll keep you updated. Hope everyone is doing ok! It's spring. A great time for a metamorphosis. :)
April 23, 2010
I'm brand new on this site. I actually felt some shame in joining, but at the same time, I am relieved to read about someone like me. I'm a 32 year old female. Growing up, I would bite/pick my nails & cuticles. In my mid-20's, I was getting fairly regular manicures and that really helped although I was mortified to go the first time. There was a short period of time in my 20's when my nails/cuticles looked great! Currently, my nails look pretty & are at a good length; the problem is my cuticles. I pick the cuticles on my right hand (except for my pinkie) & the thumb of my left hand. My husband doesn't understand why I can't "just stop." I go through phases when I do well & don't pick, but it hasn't lasted long. Keeping bandaids on all my fingers doesn't sound like a good option to me. I've found that keeping my cuticles moisturized does help. I've never tried medication or therapy. I am a school counselor & therapists often say that they are the ones that need the most therapy! I have found that to be true sometimes! Yes, I do forget to breathe sometimes. I need to improve my coping strategies & lessen some anxiety and keep my fingers away from each other!!! Best wishes to you.
April 24, 2010

In reply to by jbhrlh3

welcome. it is a really big step to join a site like this and admit to have this compulsion. hopefully you will find comradeship and lots of information and inspiration to find ways to overcome it. it's not surprising your husband thinks the way he does. most people feel that way about other people who have an issue that they themselves don't have. this is like an addiction and just as difficult to stop as it is for an alcoholic to give up drinking, a gambling addict o give up gambling. it's a habit that has become an addiction and it takes a lot to break away from it. find out what it is that you need to break the habit and do it with conviction. there's lots of information on this site to help with the process. all the best to you !!

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