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Compulsive Toenail Picking
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Compulsive Toenail Picking

I am looking for information on compulsive toenail picking, I am not finding much information anywhere on this disorder. I remember it starting when I was in my early teens, which is when my parents got divorced, my mom got sick and I started doing drugs and drinking alcohol.

I am 44 now and it is worse than ever. I have had some major trauma in the past few years, but can't stop and I feel helpless and out of control and like there is something really wrong with me. I can't wear sandals or anything that shows my toenails. I am so depressed after I do this.

HELP!
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Avatar_f_tn
That sounds like it could be OCD or an anxiety habit. If you are anxious, picking something always seems to relieve some of your body stress... it gets you doing someting.  I bite my nails a lot and I do sometimes pick my toenails, but the worst thing I do is pick scabs.  

So if I have a pimple or scabs from a cut, they turn out to be 5 times bigger than they started and now I have beautiful scars on my face and everywhere (makeup is my savior).  So I think it sounds like an anxious habit... sometimes you don't even realize you are doing it.  

To stop you should find something to cover your toes... ALWAYS wear socks... put something jelly-like or sticky on the tips of your socks so the moment you reach for your toes you are suprised to feel something strange.  You just need to start noticing when you are doing it.  for me I keep neosporin on my scars and the moment I reach for one and feel the neosporin I realize I am doing it.

Hope this helped!  
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Avatar_n_tn
I read your post and I do something very similar when I am stressed and or depressed.  I pick at my newly pedicured toes with my finger nails.  I start out trying to even them out and end up picking them off.  I sometimes pick them off straight across, then it isnt't too bad, just short.  Sometimes, like last night, I pick off a rather large section.  That hurts like hell.  I am diabetic and I really should know better.  It really hurts afterward and I worry about someone stepping on feet.  I don't understand why I do this.  I also binge over eat.  I have been doing things like this since I was 6 or so when I started biting my nails.  I never had nails until around 12 years ago when I had fake nails put on.  I love the way they look, but as my own nails grow, I bite them from the under side.  I also pick off the fake nails when then become loose and then I bite off whatever has grown beneath.  I am 54.  
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Avatar_n_tn
I just relized that the problem I have has a name.  (CSP) compulsive skin picking.  I was watching A&E and this lady christin was picking her face and it was described as CSP.  I was floored.  I saw in her what I have been doing to myself throughout my teenage and adult life.  When I got married a year ago, my husband told me I had a problem.  I just disregarded what he was saying.  Tonight, I had to apologize to him.  My biggest problems are scab picking, face picking, and toe picking.  I guess you can say, I have it bad!
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965878_tn?1247562729
I am at work I work nights and came across this question and to be quite honest I gave a little chuckle, it wasn't meant to laugh at you but I pick at my feet all the time, my daughter has to remind me not to. I pick so much that I draw blood and yet I keep picking. I always figured I was stressed out which I am yet I can not stop. It relieves me that I am not wierd to do this. Anyone have any suggestions on how to stop, my feet are always hurting because I do this.
Thank you wicki
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Avatar_f_tn
There is an expert forum that talks about skin picking, etc a lot.  It sounds as though it could easily be ocd.  I would check out the compulsive behaviors expert forum or past posts there.
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Avatar_n_tn
OK, everyone has the same embarassing habit.  Now, how do we break it!  Do we all have to take up knitting to keep our hands engaged?  This is what I have considered.  My worst periods are when I am watching TV.  

Any suggestions?
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi All, I agree with all of you to find such relief to find I'm not the only revolting person doing this.  I am so ashamed and embarrassed about the problem but I honestly cant stop doing it.  I have bitten my fingernails til there is nothing there - the only way I stopped that was acrylics - I havent cured the problem but at least there's a barrier to it. I pick at pimples, sores, scabs, anything and everything really.  But my most embarrassing thing is that I cant stop picking my toenails.  People ask me what happened to them and I make up completely unbelievable excuses which I'm sure nobody ever believes but at least they stop asking.  My partner must find it revolting but pretends to not notice.  I was having acrylic nails on my toes which again provided the barrier I needed but right now, they are picked so badly that there is not even anything to stick a nail tip to.  I live in Australia so it's hot, so wearing socks is not much of a help.  Besides the compulsion is so strong i just take them off anyway. I have been doing it as long as I can remember and I'm now 42. I am on meds for depression but it doesnt change this habit.  Has anyone tried therapy, hypnotherapy etc for the problem and was it successful?  I really need to stop and there must be a way.  The thought of even telling a therapist about it makes me incredibly embarrassed but if it has worked for anyone, it would be worth trying
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Avatar_m_tn
Wow-what a relief to know that I'm not the only freak who picks till I bleed, tear off toenails completely, and am just plain embarressed about my toes. Does anyone know of a support group, or something to that extent to help with this compulsive disorder? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

PS-I live on the Treasure Coast in Florida. Thanks again.
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Avatar_f_tn
Well now I feel a bit more normal with my quarter toenails that are always sore and bleeding! Thank you all for having this crazy habit! I just wish I knew how to stop! And I would like to know why do the nails hurt if you don't pick them!
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Avatar_f_tn
I also find it interesting that many of us are on some sort of medication for depression or anxiety..... Maybe it's got soothing to do with that?? Who knows!!!
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Avatar_f_tn
Helpful solutions:
1. Reduce caffeine intake until you can stop it all together.
2. Stop smoking if you do; it gives you more anxiety
3. Wear socks, house slippers or shoes if you are home or anywhere, anytime you tend to pick your toes.
4. Wear gloves when driving if you bite your nails when driving.
5. Wear light gloves in bed if you tend to bite nails late at night.
6. Cover scabs with bandaids and neosporin
until they heal.
7. For the face, invest in a skin regimine that will give you results and help you not want to pick your face. Also wear gloves at time you pick your face.
8. If you bite your nails invest in store bought nails you can glue on. They are not as heavy on the nail and allow your natural nail to grow stronger.
9. Most important for all compulsive pickers: write down or keep notes in your phone of when you pick and what thoughts go through your head at the time. There are usually patterns and this will help address your issues you're ignoring. Also, when you are picking, ask yourself what you're thinking about? Something is making you anxious. Sounds kind of funny, but talk to yourself the way a friend would. And calm yourself down. Some things are out of your control and these are the things that give us anxiety. Care about the things you can control. Change your thoughts. "pick out your thoughts like you pick out your clothes." with intention.
Hope these help :) Im working on them myself but after failing, I just try again. My face picking has reduced tremendously.
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1801781_tn?1373244154
It is usually an anxiety response to something.  I did something similar for quite awhile.  When I began antidepressants I found that helped.  A doctor can help you figure out what might be helpful.  There are also some anxiety meds out there.  I no longer have those tics as often and they are more easily controlled.
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Avatar_m_tn
I just don't like my toenails.

There is a similar however much more severe complex where people don't feel comfortable with a limb. They try and succeed in removing the offending appendage.

Well for me it's the same BUT with my toenails go figure??
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Avatar_f_tn
I don't think it is the meds, too many people said they started as young children.
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Avatar_f_tn
If you have the condition that a limb (toe nails) offend you then you need to see a therapist. There is help out there.
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Avatar_f_tn
It's called Dermatillomania and I have it too. I'm 20 and unable to wear sandals or cute heels. I haven't had this condition very long but I've always been a nail biter. Nobody knows I have this and all I want desperately is to stop... I have a history of generalized anxiety, panic disorder and questionable OCD, perhaps this is related to it. I think it's the body's way of "releasing" nervous energy... I just can't stop

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Avatar_f_tn
SOLUTION:  Take a photo of your feet with your cell phone and upload it as a Screensaver.  
Within two weeks, I stopped compulsively picking off my entire nails.  No more bandaids or visits to the nurse's office at work.  
The Screensaver constantly reminds me that toenail picking is abnormal
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Avatar_f_tn
I have had this habit for years. I am very embarrassed by my feet. My toenail picking is so bad that my toenails don't grow properly. In the summer time I will apply fake toenails just so I can wear sandals. I can't stop at times and it bugs me that I do it. I would like to know if there is a way to stop doing it. The urge to pick at my toenails is so bad at times. I never thought for a minute that there was anyone out there with the same problem. I now see that I am not alone.
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Avatar_m_tn
i love it i though i was the only one but thank the Lord im not so toe picking is not just me i dont have any toes nails atm..lol and im about to go on a cruise wont i look good with no toe nails...well ill try the socks..b4 i go to the dr. he is just gonna give me a pill that i dont want so socks it is..
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1140115_tn?1348499315
Hi, folks,

Since this thread is old and the original participants are no longer taking part, we'll close it now.  If you'd like to ask a question or start a new thread about depression, please click the "Post a Question" button near the top of this page.

If you want to discuss compulsive nail/skin picking, hair-pulling, or other compulsions, please feel free to start a discussion in our OCD community here:
http://www.medhelp.org/forums/Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder-OCD-/show/231

Thanks!

Claire
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