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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Community
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Avatar universal

Compulsive Skin Picking (face, arms, legs, and body)

(THIS IS NOT AN ACNE PROBLEM!)
I have a really clean face and body, I just destroy every piece of it by doing this.

Well here, let me tell you my story. I'm 17 years old, the typical high school teen.I have the compulsion of looking in the mirror and standing there for hours looking at every pore on my face then picking. Then it over turned to my whole body, its gotten way worst since I begun doing this since 1 1/2 years ago. Its been putting me down a lot then turning into depression because I can't wear short sleeves or shorts in public without someone noticing i have multiple scabs, bumps, blemishes going everywhere and questioning me about it. I hate this because I thought it was nothing at first, but when I started noticing marks, scars, bumps and never healing scabs that were left after picking or messing with, its become embarrassing. I miss having a clear/clean body and face, but its like a urge to me. Its like an itch that has to be scratched, if you don't itch it, the urge will grow until so. So after I became aware of my problem, I took my time to see if other people had the same symptoms as me, and I actually found a bunch of people. Well I also found something called Compulsive Skin Picking. Which it is but if you search it up on Google, its more of a mental thing, not a hormone imbalance that a drug would take care of it. I recommend not to take any prescribed drugs for this problem, because I can already tell you NONE will work. Probably just a medication that would mess with your mind or make you depressed. Try these helpful hints that I'm going to be trying out also...

When tempted to pick, care for your skin by applying a moisturizing lotion instead.

Cover or remove mirrors if they act as a trigger and get rid of all implements such as tweezers and pins used for picking.

Consider the use of artificial nails to make picking more difficult, it may work for some.

Wear rubber fingertips or cotton gloves whenever possible if you feel the urge to pick.

Try replacing some of the sensory aspects of skin-picking with a more desirable alternative. For example, keep an object by you that you can manipulate (squeeze or pull) such as a soft rubber ball.
( I play with a rubber band around my wrist to occupy my hands when the urge comes.)

Keep your hands busy with something else such as a puzzle or knitting.

If you bite the inside of your cheeks try eating crunchy snacks when you feel the urge to bite.

Reward yourself for making progress with some kind of treat.

As you gain more confidence gradually begin to expose your hands, arms, face or legs to others starting with family and friends. You will no doubt benefit from their support but at the same time the negative consequences of engaging in your habit will be increased.

If all fails, get advice on skin care. If you have a skin complaint see a dermatologist.
(I went to a bunch of doctors and all they give you is acne cream or something along that lines. Most of the doctors won't understand until you explain every little detail of you problem that your having so they can get an idea of whats happening.)
164 Responses
Avatar universal
I have devoloped CSP, compulsive skin picking oddly enough at age about 22. I'm 25 now. It started as a mundayne thing i would do while doing more normal daily activites in the bathroom, and turned into very quickly, subconsiosly, started in the bathroom at say 11pm and not getting out of there from picking for my record at 8 hours. I am a recovering IV Drug User, I was addicted to both heroin and cocaine. I haven't used either in probably 3 years on heroin, and 3.5 years cocaine. I currently also have other pysciatric disorders, such as, PTSD, Terrible Anxiety, Paranoia (Everyone is out to get me type feeling), and of course Depression. I have on my mom and dads side opiate and or opiod addiction, benzo or barbituate addiction and even Stimulants, but mainly Alcoholism. I oddly enough, hate alcohol, the taste, the high, everything about it. Also my mother lost 2 older brothers who were killed at young ages of 19 and 23, 2 seperate automobile accidents, both killed in South Padre Island Texas, by drunk mexicans with no liscences or anything. One was decapitated immediatly by the windshield, the other on lifesupport as a vegtiable in a coma and eventually past. So alchol too wasn't really an option. My mother hates alchol and people who use it, which in my extended family on my dads side, my moms side are dead or non existent, all drink daily multiple times, and take pills with them, such as Valium, Vicoden, Darvocet, Neurontin and etc. My mom and dad have no smoked pot, so they claim and never drink or claim to have ever been even intoxicated. So for there son to be a junkie, they had no clue what to do with me or a clue on what i was going through. So i was just shipped off to rehab after rehab for about a year and a half, in different ****** towns in TX, seeing no family or most importantly friends that entire time. I was basically a problem for the family, we have money, so my mom checks Dr Phils advice and sends me to the first rehab she finds not researching it, its procedures, its detoxing methods or anything that is VITAL to your very expensive recovery stay. Anyway, i'm now back obviously and the picking started in that year and a half, when i came down with some bacterial infection on my face, i forget the term, but it was from working for the slimeball who ran the half way house i was staying at, he would pay us **** to go and help him renovate new halfway houses he was building in the greater Dallas TX area. Quick note, the guy who ran the halfway house, was in the pen for 5 years on charges of distributing cocaine, he was driving 7 corevettes before he was arrested one for each day of the week. So he is yet another one of the addicts who is exploiting the recovery industry for a quick buck. To make a long story short i was moving a refridgerator that had been unplugged and had some type of milk, cheese or raw cabbage or something that had been sitting in it, in TX heat, 100 F and above for almost a year. the stench alone, you could smell before you walked into this 3 story house, i helped move it and just from the fridge somehow my face broke out with what i thought was acne but was a viral infection. So i would pick and prod at them to get the puss out to relieve the pain and to hopefully fix it. It got worse and then covered my whole face, it looked like poison ivy and of course i was swollen too. But i was in a Dallas, with no transportation, no money, but i was staying at a halfway house that cost 1400 a month since it was in a prime neighborhood in dallas. The person running the joint wouldn't even take me to a doctor, so finally a week later, my folks picked me up and then i found out it was serius and got some antibiotics and sure enough it went away. But even though it was gone i still had the odd desire to look my best and work for hours on my face mainly, and make it look like somebody kicked the **** out of me, and never could i tell anyone that i did this. I worked as a computer salesman in a store similar to a CompUSA but you actually make commision and a real salary, so customers would see my face and ask if i fell off a bike or skateboard and slid on my chin till the skin came off and scabbed up, I said allergies always. But it was then escalating to the point that people would ask  me why i looked so torn up, and then i started on my arms, and of course dumb ***** who have no brains, thought at one job the scars were track marks. And this would be a welt maybe a 1/4 inch in diameter and its like, unless i was using a like elephant 2 gauge needle it would create that type of scarring. But recently i picked on something in my mouth and it was then got infected and abcessed and i almost, according to the doc, if i waited one more day, would have lost part of my upper lip. To think i thought i was making myself look better and here i'm about to loose part of my look and be disfigured for life. My arms already bear scarring that will take years to go away; I take medication wise, Methadone for my Opiate/Opiod dependence legally at a clinic, and also see an addictionolagist with a PHDs in neurology and psychiatry, it cost 150 bucks, no insuranse just to talk to her, But its worth every penny. I take Klonopin 2mg tablets to just calm me down during the day and also Klonopin meltable wafers for fast action when I have a picking attack. I also take Promethazine because when i get nervous i become nauseaus. Then Tagament for my heartbburn. But i have no diseases like Hepatis C or AIDS. But until last week when i had to goto the ER and a few days before that i for the first time check the net for skin picking and had no idea this was a real SERIOUS OCD like or is OCD type disorder and a wave of comfort finally came over me that i'm not alone. I thought i was just a crazy schizoiid who they would just have to contiunually tranquilize me to calm me down. But i've been doing accupuncture, which has done wonders, meditation along wth swimming. Stuff to keep my stupid *** away from mirrors. I was thinking of even in my personal bathroom removing the big one and just having a small one to use. I put a clock in there too so i can see when i came in, and also set my g-shoch watch timer for 15 minutes, since brushing teeth, quick shave, and some other personal grooming shouldnt take much longer for a man, unless theu are taking a shower too. Anyway i apologize for this thesis of a response but i am soo realized too see other people who suffer this also, thanks for anyone who reads this.
Avatar universal
i'm turning 19 soon... and have also picked at my skin.. i get random ingrowns on my leg and pubic region.. and i have an obsession of using an eedle and scissors and digging at them until i get them out..  i have gashes  all over my  my shins that just look like big mosquito bites...
i just want them to go away.. i want to stop, but then when i see one im like hmmm maybe just this one... then i start going and it feels so good to get them out.. but after spending hours in the bathroom i look at myself in the mirror and still feel uglier then i ever felt. i'm tall, skinny...  i could potentially have great legs.. if it wasn't for all the scarring...  i get questioned all the time about it.. it just makes me feel worse and worse.. then i see people with gorgeous  perfect skin and it makes me jealous and want to go at it again....
i just want to stop and have flawless skin, how is it some people get blessed with naturally  glowing skin ,and im stuck like this
Avatar universal
I am 45 and pick my face, back, neck anywhere I may have an imperfection.  Thank you for having the courage to write.  I think it sounds like OCd but what do i know.  I am on Celexa and Wellbutrin.  It seems to have intensified since I started these medications.  any advice?
581131 tn?1218569440
It is such a 'relief' to read your posts as for a long time (3years plus) I have felt like I'm going mad and must be the only person on the planet that picks at their legs / body/ face.
I am trying so hard to stop but soemtimes I start to pick without realising (there is definately a subconscious aspect), sometimes I feel that I actually enjoy picking and that makes me feel guilty. I am too embarassed to wear skirts / shorts as people always ask what's wrong with my legs.
I will often use a needle / scissors to get out ingrown hair and will even end up going over wounds that haven't healed properly - so it takes even longer. My legs are quite scarred and my shoulders are also becoming that way. I haven't been to my doctors yet, I guess I have been worried he'd say I was going mad! I don't really know why I do it - and I have thought long and hard, and I couldn't even tell you why I started. I am finding that will power alone is not working (sometimes for a few days) and I feel like a failure because at the age of 29 I think I should be able to control my actions. I will often tell myself that even if I do pick it will just heal up - which I know is not the case.
It would be good to get some advice from other sufferers, even just to share experiences. A couple of family members know about this but it is difficult for them as they can't understand why I do it; and sometimes they will ask why and all I can say is that I don't know.
Avatar universal
I too am a picker.  I have been making sores and scabs to pick my entire life.  Whenever I have a scab it takes forever to finally go away because I seem to not be able to leave it alone and the compulsion is so strong that I can't ignore it.  I have recently been diagnosed with OCD, PTSD, Anxiety, and depression.  I also have been on Paxil for 1 month now which helps tremendously with keeping my emotions even and over all I am in a good mood and no more PMS!  I see someone above who is on meds pointed out that the picking got worse...I have noticed that mine is worse now as well.  I also run my hands through my hair on my head and find myself doing this all night while watching tv and I can't stop and because I can't stop it drives me crazy.  I get tired of doing it but can't stop.  I have read others say how you get almost hypnotized by the repeated action.  I am going to try my best not to touch my head or scratch every bump on my back tonight.  I have been washing my back really good and using rubbing alcohol after every shower but evertime I reach around and feel something I pick it and then strain to reach every little spot and pick it off...

It is good to know I am not alone.  It is part of the OCD which is what I have come to realize after reading other posts and researching OCD.  I don't know why the meds don't help though.  I guess I will mention it to my psychiatrist at the end of the month.

Thank you all for posting!
Avatar universal
Wow I'm not alone!  I too pick at my skin.  The pores drive me crazy and I squeeze them and pick at them, and at scabs or anything that I feel shouldn't be there.  I spend hours in the bathroom sometimes.  It is embarrassing.  I also bite the inside of my cheeks.  I have been diagnosed with bipolar, OCD, borderline personality disorder, depression blah blah blah.  I am on luvox and it has really really helped with my obsessions, not so much with the picking.  I have scars all over and scabs.  It really upsets my husband.  I've been doing it for years used to be a cutter at least i stopped that.  I'm also super fat largely because of the meds but can't live without them ( I get suicidal).  Fun fun!  What a trade off.
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