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Compulsive Scalp Picking

I am 28 years old and have picked scabs on my scalp since I was about 12 years old.  Normally I find little imperfections, possibly dandruff or dry scalp, and I pick at it until it becomes a scab.  Once a scab develops, I find myself uncontrollably picking at it, so it usually never heals or takes an extremely long time or another scab to develop to stop.  Right now, I have a total of six scabs that I have created on my scalp.  When I am picking I can't necessarily say that it relieves stress like I have found on some of the other web sites, but more of an obsession that I can't control.  I have been treated for depression and PTSD, but have never mentioned my compulsive picking.  I have been prescribed both Zoloft and Prozac with Klonopin for the symptoms of anxiety and depression, but I still seem to pick at me head.  The kicker is that I also do this in my sleep.  I will literally wake up with blood under my nails.  What treatment options are there other than medication?  Should I tell my primary care physician or should I talk to a psychiatrist?  What are some of the causes of this, could it be OCD?  I don't really have any sort of rituals like you see or read about or extreme fears, but I can not seem to stop picking at my scalp, and although I am not pulling at my hair, I am noticing hair loss.  Any feedback would be appreciated.
374 Responses
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I have recently dropped out of uni and although i have always picked at my head it has become obsessive over the past few months. It has come to the point were i cant control myself from doing it in public, until the skin bleeds, it stings when i am in the shower and i only stop when my arm aches from being upright for so long. I'm scared that i also have depression as i have very low self worth and choose to sleep in the day and stay awake alone all night. I was wondering if the head picking and deppression could be linked?
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im 23 years old i thought i was the only person in the world that does this!i constantly get headaches bc my scalp hurts so bad! on the crown of my head i have a huge bald spot with a houseshoe shaped scab thats bigger than a quater!!!!i cant stop picking it burns in the shower i pull out the hair to get the scab or the hair normally comes with it!everyone thinks its nasty  and wish id stop!i do it all day and everyday i zone out and i pick to were i make faces kick my feet,etc..i want to find a way to stop somekind of medication im on prozac and an add med. but what makes it stop!!!!
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I too have the same problem. There are many on this site comparing picking procedures but few solutions to what is clearly a serious condition for all of us. Has anyone any positive, constructive advice? Has anyone had any medical, psychiatric help? Is there any good practice to be passed on? In short, can anyone offer any suggestions as to how I can stop this debilitating, disgusting habit, please?
Avatar universal
So I have had this issue for years. Since I was a little kid. I had bad cradle cao as a baby, and then again in middle school. I just have ALWAYS picked my head. My mother always yells at me, "stop picking your head". The fact is that I don't even realize I'm doing it anymore. And I pick my lips too. I mean I dnon't look like a freak or anything. In facet im a 25 year old hairstylist. I've always judt thought it was normal. Until now, I feel like I never wanted to aceept that I have a disorder.

I recently this year was diagnosed with adult adhd. And I was put on a 20mg a day dose of adderal. I'm not sure thats made a difference with the picking, although great for my adhd. So it def gose in spurts, sometimes I have nothing and others like now, my head is covered in scabs. I believe I do have some sort of ecsema or phoriosis, Because my ears are always dry and scabby. But anyways I always have flakes and dryness around my hairline. And recently I have made this giant scar in front on my part that is loosing hair. Im a hot mess, but no ones else knows I do it. I havent ever even told my shrink. Im going to now though, I just dont want to be on other meds.

As I am sitting here right now I am picking, last week I even looked in the mirror and picked a scab with a tweezer, that **** is bad.

I have also read in the hair world, that mineral build up in you tap water causes a build up on the scalp and then that could be what is being picked. Any way, good luck to you all, I hope you find a solution! :)
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I basically have the same thing going on. (I'm in my mid 50's and it started when I was around 12-ish) There are periods when I stop for a month or two (without realizing it). But usually it's all the time. I haven't sought help for it, and I was surprised that it is so prevelant (sp). Let's hope we can get this under control. But as we all know it's close to impossible. Thanks for listening.

Avatar universal
I have since I can remember always picked at my head. I don't do it to the point of pain but I will scour my head with my nails until I find something to pick at. I will do it and not even realize it until later when my arm is tired. I think it is a gross habit to be constantly picking at my scalp. Does anyone know why some people do this? I would like to stop but it is something I do when I'm stressed, deressed or bored. I would love some answers!
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