Any skin pickers out there?

Skin picking is something I've struggled with my whole life and has only gotten worse over the years.  It's a very misunderstood disorder with very little support available.  The disorder generates a great deal of shame, which causes people to not talk openly about it.  I pick primarily at my face although will move to other areas of my body.  Sometimes I'll pick at a small blemish and if there's no blemish visible, I'll find one.  If I don't feel satisfied, I'll use pins, needs, or tweezers to try and generate some kind of release.  This causes self-inflicted injury, swelling, scarring and a significant amount of shame.  I desperately need help.  When I was a kid, my mom would just smack my hand and tell me to stop picking.  As an adult, loved ones have told me I need to just stop.  What they don't realize is that it's like telling an alcoholic to just stop drinking or a drug addict to just stop using.  The problem with picking though is that you can't always hide it.  Makeup can camouflage but does not make it invisible.  I've seen numerous psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counselors, and other specialists, all of whom have different opinions on how to categorize the disorder.  Some call it OCD, some call it compulsion, some call it an addiction, some call it BDD, some just call it a bad habit.  I've experimented with numerous medications with no success.  This disorder has affected my personal life, my professional life, and my relationships and there are days when I just want to go to sleep and not wake up until I'm free of the urge.  I really need to know if there are others who suffer from or know somebody who suffers from the same disorder.  I'm not looking for advice because I guarantee whatever advice anyone gives, I've tried it.  What I need is support and encouragement and somewhere to go when the urge hits to hopefully distract me from picking.
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  • @insideout hello and thank you for sharing.  i am not a skin picker...i won't share advice because i don't really know what to say...i'm sorry you are going through this.  how about a shaman. go see a shaman..they are interesting! :)  

    i do wish you the best though..and you can come on here if you get the urge...there's usually lots of people on...

  • Thank you for the reply. It's good to know there are people out there listening. My focus right now is to try to channel my energy into other, more productive things when the urge hits (like cleaning my house). Sometimes this works but often the urge to pick is so much more powerful than the energy I have to fight it. What frightens me the most is that my 9-year-old son is showing similar signs, although not nearly to the same extreme... yet. I would do anything to avoid him from developing this same disorder and as hard as I've tried to stop for him, it's even too powerful for that. I'm exhausted from all the years of mental energy I've put into fighting it. I'm hoping that writing these things down will help to get out some of what's inside so I don't need the physical release I seek through picking. Fingers crossed.
  • Hi! First, I like your username! Lol. Anyway, I'm not much of a skin picker, only when I have a pimple or blemish, I tend to pick on it until it bleeds. Or until I get the annoying thing inside it. Gross, I know. I also don't know any skin picker who is in the same degree as you. I won't offer any advice, I'm just here to tell you that you can go to this site whenever the urge hits you. We can talk about anything else, like our sons, because I also have a son.:)

    And I'm thinking that your son is probably imitating your behaviour. My son tends to imitate whatever we do, so we refrain from doing or saying anything negative. You can just stop him whenever he's picking on something from his skin. I think the earlier you stop him, the better.:)
  • I was obsessed with cutting and self-harming a couple of years ago, just because I liked the feeling. But I have a habit which is more similar to yours. I bite the inside of my cheeks and rip small paths of skin off them. I have realized that I can't last a minute without doing it, and I want to stop, but I just cannot! It's really annoying, as it seems like I'm chewing gum most of the time and I hate the view. You are not alone, and I find this similar to people who chew their nails.
  • Nergaahl... It's interesting to hear you say you like the feeling. I've wondered if I actually enjoy the feeling of the pain I cause through picking, poking, squeezing, etc. I think it's not so much that I enjoy the feeling but rather it's a feeling I crave. I internalize my emotions and I believe the way I deal with the pain I feel on the inside is by inflicting it on the outside. It's almost like the bleeding I create is the pain draining out of me. Unfortunately, this method us futile though as it only results in more emotional trauma when I stop and realize what I've done to myself... Again. I go out into the world every day thinking the only things people see when they look at me are the scars and my pathetic attempt to camouflage the damage I've done. I'd give anything to leave the house barefaced and proud.
  • I don't have this problem myself, but my boyfriend does. Every time I look at him he's picking at something on his skin. It bothers me, but I try to not let that show. I know that he can't help it. It's as though he can't have any little flaw on his skin or it drives him mental, even if he's imagining it and actually causing a new flaw himself.
  • Hereiam... Thanks for sharing and please know you're doing the right thing by not pushing him on the issue. He knows it's a problem and hearing people remind him of it will not make it better. In fact it will likely make it worse as he will then have the added anxiety of knowing how it's affecting others. It's like telling an obese person they need to lose weight. They already know and don't need the reminder. Just support him and do what you can to ease any anxiety he might be feeling.
  • I'm kind of a skin picker, more of a hair picker. I kind of rub my scalp in little circles with my fingers, looking for weird bumps or odd bits of skin, then pick em off. Ugh, sounds so gross when I say it out loud. 

    My mom would deal with it in the same way. When I was little, I actually picked a sizable bald spot on my head, and my mom was mortified. So after that, she'd yell at me or smack my hand when she caught me picking. Doesn't work!

  • I used to do this with my scalp and sometimes my skin too. I don't know how I eventually got off it, but there was a time when I was chronically picking my scalp that it was starting to bleed at times. I remember feeling kind of good about the picking since it was relaxing, but at the same time I was very worried that it was another bad habit I'd have to carry with me forever. Good thing I somehow got over it, I think due to a new hobby as a replacement, if I recall correctly, and now I hardly pick anymore and my scalp has healed up a good amount.
  • I pick at my scalp some when stressed out. My best friend picks at her skin pretty severely when she's really depressed or anxious. When she's like that and I catch her scratching I will just gently take her hand and move it away from where she is picking at.
  • The only time I have heard of this is when people who regularly use speed/meth suffer with it. It makes sense that it can be a standalone disorder though, I'm pretty sure anything can. I've never known anyone to suffer with this as far as I am aware but I do remember that when I was back in school, there were a few kids who would pick their blemishes and if they couldn't find one they'd make one. I find myself wondering if this disorder affected them too.
  • Me and my mother also -  interesting psychological thing - it is coded or did I learned from her all my life?
    So both of us are really bad skin pickers, but only next to our big thumbs. Under stress I can pick it so badly that it bleeds and always has big scars on it - it is very dangerous and open to infections, i try to put bandages on my thumb to try to stop it, but under stress or anxiety nothing helps.

    I really want to change my habit, because learning from my case, if it goes like this my kids are gonna be pickers too.
  • OOh, interesting subject.. I read on this site last week about someone that was biting their skin, and I added my paragraph about biting the skin around my nails and picking it.. I have the ugliest hands, the fingers just look... "unfinished".... Someone else said they did it too, and it was called "dermatophagia", or something similar... I looked it up... turns out, I'm not alone.... Woo. Just that alone, giving it a name and becoming concious of it has helped immensely.... I have actually stopped doing it since last week. I mean, I have had to conciously stop myself from doing it, but, I notice it now. Till that day I just did it without realising.
  • Oh yes I have always picked my skin, especially whenever I get really nervous in front of a big crowd. It gets really anoyying and I end up getting a lot of dings and marks on my skin, but its been an old habit so I can't really help it.
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