Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Community
Scalp Picking
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Scalp Picking

I am 20 years old and I've recently (in the last year) become obsessed with picking at scabs on my scalp.  I can easily spend hours in front of a mirror looking for little scabs to pick off or even small bits of dandruff to pick at.  It has gotten to the point where my scalp burns when I wash my hair because there are usually numerous open wounds.  I don't really find stress relief from doing this, it's more of a habit.  At work, I find myself with a hand in my hair, searching for scabs to pick at.  My dandruff has gotten worse, and it seems like a vicious cycle of finding dandruff then picking at it to create opportunities for more dry skin to develop.

I had been diagnosed with moderate depression and general anxiety when I was about 14, and more recently I have been diagnosed with a mild case of social anxiety.  I have been a "picker" for as long as I can remember...my fingernails have never grown long and any cuts I've gotten have turned into scars from consistently picking at them.  This habit has only recently gotten uncontrollable.  I am afraid of infections from the open wounds.  I know this may be a symptom of OCD, but I don't tend to exhibit any other signs of OCD.  Is it possible that this is just a severe side effect of my depression/anxiety?  Also, what is the best way to drop this habit?
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Whether it is from OCD or not, you do need to find a way to break the cycle of picking since obviously it has turned your life upside down.  Do you see anybody for your GAD, depression or social anxiety?  If so, then talk to them about some behavioral modification techniques.  If not, then think about seeing a psychologist.  

If you are at home, then I suggest wearing either a hat on your head or socks on your hands.  I know it sounds stupid but you cannot pick if you either can't get to your head or you don't have your fingers avaialble.  Also, you say you don't have fingernails so how are you picking to begin with?  If they are long enough to pick, then cut them.  

At work, you need to catch yourself when you are picking.  You need to say STOP in your head and put your hands down.  One poster once said she sits on her hands and that has helped her.  Since you are doing it out of habit (even OCD compulsions can become habits) then you need to try to become aware of when you are doing it since you are more than likely doing it absent thought.  

Hopefully you are seeing somebody and they can help you with the behavioral modification component of this.  

Take care.
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