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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.
Avatar universal
wow, my husband keeps telling me to stop picking, and I keep saying "I can't".  I never thought that might actually be the truth.  I pick at everything, but only with my fingernails, never with needles or tweezers or anything, but I also bite the skin on my lips, the inside of my lips and cheeks, and the skin on my fingers.  I guess this will be one more thing to talk to the therapist about...
Avatar universal
I have been obsessive picking my face for as long as I can remember. It has gotten worse the past couple years, because I have found good makeup that helps me hide it more, which has lead to even more picking. I have just realized last nite that I need HELP!!! Has anyone had any success with any types of medication or therapy? Any suggesstions would be greatly appreciated. I do not take any other medications or antidepressants, I think I manifest all of my anxiety throught the picking.
Avatar universal
i just thought i'd post because i too have a problem picking.  in my case, it has been my just my legs i used to pick ant even the slightest little scab that appeared on my legs.  over time, my legs became covered and eventually i would rip off half the skin on my lower leg every time i picked off the scabs.  this was when i was about 12.  i am now 17 and only have scabs on my legs when i fall or skin myself.  i dont pick at them so much, but the urge is always there.  it was like a drug to me and i couldnt stop for the life of me.  the urges did, however become less powerful and occured less often.  i never took medication for it, and i never had therapy or anything, it just kinda slowed down when i started thinking about other things.  specifically, i started playing video games when i would get the urge to pick, and then, i would pretty much forget all about it.
recently i found out that my girlfriend has a similar problem and i was wondering how one would go about helping someone with this issue.  i went through it but i never really had real support, just my parents yelling at me to stop.  so what can i say to her to help her out?
Avatar universal
i feel so relieved that there are others like me. i use tweezers and pull out hairs from my legs. i get bumps from it and i can pop them like pimples. that's my favorite thing to do, but i also pop zits on my face, arms, and chest. and more recently i discovered that i can pull out little hairs from my butt (ya, its kinda weird) and thats also something that i do alot. i've been picking since i dont even know how long. it started as just popping pimples and at bumps on my arms. my arms got so scabbed up that i never wore short sleeve shirts. in my sophomore year of high school i tried using my tweezers to pull out hairs on my legs because i thought it would be like waxing them, only one hair at a time. but i started getting ingrown hairs, which i would pop. sometimes i cant pop them, so with my tweezers (which are really sharp) i dig down until i can get to the hair and pull it out. i gave my tweezers to my boyfriend today (lukester1250) in the hopes that maybe that would at least help me keep from pulling out hairs. i really have no idea how to get over this. i've tried but i can only go for a few days before doing it again. if im not doing one thing, i'm doing another. i dont like all the scars that i've put on myself and all the blemishes, which sometimes hurt. is there anything i can do to make this stop?
Avatar universal
Here's my story. My problem started when I was about 10 years old, when I started tweezing my eyebrows and eyelashes. I remember the first time I did it, I was looking in the mirror and just wanted to tweeze the hairs in between my eyebrows. I went too far back, so it looked like I tweezed half my eyebrows off. I also began pulling my eyelashes out, so it was literally bare in the middle. I eventually stopped pulling eyelashes, and thank God they grew back. But I couldn't stop tweezing my eyebrows, and the result is, 18 years later (I'm 28 now), they will never grow back to what they once were. I saw a picture of myself from before I started tweezing, and I had beautifully shaped eyebrows. When I was 11 or 12, I also started picking at the hairs in my legs. The ingrown hairs really bothered me, and I loved tweezing them out. Sometimes you have to take a sharp needle to pick out the hairs without damaging the skin too much. But my legs still get red and scarred, especially when the tweezer can't pull out the hair at the root and just breaks off. This, as you all know, is the ultimate annoyance because it won't heal quickly and you know you're going to go back in there and try to pull it out again before it heals. I've been picking my legs for at least 16 years. I am desperate to stop, but obviously easier said than done. I refuse to wear shorts and skirts, which is tough because I live in a warm climate, everyone wears shorts. I have to sweat and be miserable and embarrassed. WHY CAN'T I STOP??? Why do I do this??? I have never talked to anyone about this. I just picked a couple hours ago, I do it at least every other day. And I always tell myself, this is the last time. Then I do it again and again and again. I have nice legs, too. I'm destroying my legs like I destroyed my natural eyebrows. I have to wear eyebrow pencil everyday to fill in the gaps that won't grow back! Sixteen years folks, and counting. What the hell am I supposed to do? I hope that writing this post will help. Is there anyone out there with any advice? I don't think I can do this on my own.
Avatar universal
I to pick..I pull the skin off on the sides of my thumbs..I pick at scabs that I make..and at my hairline..I asked my counclior about it and she said it's just a nervous habit..I usually do it when I'm watching t.v..I don't do it in public..it's like u know it's there and u have to do something about it..Good luck
Avatar universal
I just stumbled upon this site, and was so amazed to find others just like me.
I have been picking my skin for as long as i can remember, i am 28 right now. I remember being very young 11 or 12 i guess, and standing on my bed so i could get more sunlight from the window so i could see my face batter so i could pick hairs ,pick pimples and scabs on my face. I remember having a scab on my scalp, which was the result of a fly bite, that kept scabbing, and i kept picking for over a year and a half, the SAME scab....like"what the hell". I still pick my face, more that anything, i do pick my legs, and pubic region for ingrowns, and my chest.
My newest thing is inside my ears. I started to just scarpe the insides of my ears with my fingernails, because of some dry skin that had started there. But now im completely obsessed, i do it at work in the bathroom, hoping that a scab has formed, and on my drive home from work, is the best, i pick my face, i dont even need to see what im doing, then i go to my ears again. It even hurts sometimes, but you get past that pretty quickly.
My friends tell me to stop. I can't, i dont think i want to stop.
Avatar universal
I was just wondering...
How many of you smoke cigarettes habitually or socially?
&
How many of you would consider yourselves sexually frustrated since you haven;t got some in a while or a virgin?
This may sound crazy, but I have the same picking problems as many of you do, and the other day I was reflecting on this sole problem.
If we all have smoking in common, then maybe it is the chemicals in the cigarettes that is causing this
&
If we have sexual frustration, or are still proud owners of our virginities still, we might just be searching for that "pleasureable release."
Let me know what you all think about my theory, and if you feel that you are a member of one, or both of these factors.
Avatar universal
I didn't know that there was such a thing as OCD for picking your body, Im nearly 18 and Ive been picking my legs, thighs and now arms for about 2 years now, I thought I was the only person, I'm glad to know there is a name for it, when I stop picking I can't stop, I can go for hours picking my legs, I've got scabs all over my legs and have to cover them all the time, I hate the fact that I have to do this as all my mates go out wearing dresses and skirts, I really dont know what to do, has anyone got any advice on what to do? I'm going uni next year and I want to stop this! I hate it! :(

Maya
Avatar universal
I dont smoke and Im not sexually frustrated, i really dont know why I'm doing this, it gets me so down..any solutions? thanks
Avatar universal
For me, it's more of a feeling of "Cleaning the wound". To me..the crusty stuff is just gross and has to go away...but then once it's gone, I'm so disgusted with myself for making it bleed. What can I do to stop this?
Avatar universal
-take down or cover mirrors with newspaper/ductape if mirrors are the instigator

-rubber band on wrist at all times, snap before, after, during picking (as much as possible, will make you think about what you're doing and associate it with pain)

-try being on the phone or with somebody when in bathroom (if mirrors are the instigator)

-if it gets really bad or you want clear skin for an event, stay with someone or go on a vacation or be very busy (cut out opportunities to pick)

-get a pet. rats will happily sit on your shoulder. good luck picking or feeling depressed/anxious with a cute thing snuggling, sniffing, or tickling you. a dog, especially lap dogs, will follow you everywhere, also will be a distraction

-it might help to keep all blemishes/perceived blemishes covered with an opaque mask

-write about each picking session after it, notice what your thinking about, what causes them, and what times sessions occur at. change your routine to keep these times occupied, avoid mirrors, etc at these times.

-when your disgusted with yourself after a session, think about other things and good thoughts, put on a mask and go to sleep. your skin will calm down when you wake up.

-talk to a close friend about it

-find a psychologist
709671 tn?1252929332
i don't have skin picking problem....i  have hair plucking problem...trichitillomania its called.
i have hormonal problem because of which i have excessive body hair..it can be taken care of by waxing or epilating but i have extreme hatred with my body for that....its okay to wax and all but i always my skin was clean and clear like others
i just hate to see hair on any body part except my scalp

i start using tweezers or my hand every chance i get

i don't use mirrors....so can't remove them.but what do i do about my eyes which scan every inch of my skin..........come hell or hay..i have to pluck

my therapist told me start learning to delay it and gradually it'll work
its worsened.....................

i have ruined my underarm skin.....i am tired of wearing long sleeves all the time even in scorching tropical season of india!

need help!

Avatar universal
I have been squizing my face's pores and pulling the hair from my legs for 15 years. I have found two solutions:
1- because i was picking my pores, i developed or aggravated a terrible rosacea that i have around my chin. now i know i have to take antibiotics if i squize my pores around the chin so i do it a little bit less.
i also found useful removing any light around the mirror so i can't see the pores.

2 - for my legs, i did the laser for permanent hair reduction. i am still doing the treatment so i still have some hair. however, because the treatment costs a few thousand dollars and if i pull my hair again it will make my hair growth back, i don't pull my legs' hair anymore.

however, now i became obsessed with my split ends: i cut them with a scissor and i can't stop for hours. today i hide the scissor... let's see if it works.

Everytime i am facing a stressful situation, even if it makes me a little anxious, i start having these compulsive behaviors. So as a solution i avoid stressful situations and i asked my husband to help me with this.

Also, i started to do sport. It relieves stress. I go swimming so i do repetitive movements for a long period of time - in some way these repetitive movements are similar to my compulsive behaviors.
Avatar universal
Another solution that I found for stopping pulling hair from my legs and that worked for about a year (since an event that gave me some anxiety happened) is the follow: I created an image of myself like the person i wanted to be. in my case it was the image of a confident and rational professional who always does the right thing, is efficient, etc. I adapted all my behaviors to this image. I created a very specif image of who i wanted to be and i imagined all the actions that this person was doing. so every time i started one of my compulsive behaviors i thought about my ideal me that i was becoming and then looked at the behavior i was having.
the image of myself and the behavior were contrasting so much that i stopped the compulsive behavior.
Avatar universal
I, too, pick my face (only) and it has now caused severe scarring and marks. I am totally disgusted with myself after I do it, and especially when I have to deal with covering the damage I've done. But as many of you stated, I still have the urge to pick! I've been able to conclude that it occurs during times when I need CONTROL over something. For example, if I'm angry with my boyfriend and alone at home, if my job has been incredibly stressful and the tasks have overwhelmed me, or if my apartment clutter has reached a point of "where do I begin cleaning this" THAT'S when I decide to head into the bathroom and pick. I've given myself the infection Impetigo on multiple occasions within the past year...ho the hell am I going to stop?? I'm beautiful and I'm making myself look disgusting :(
Avatar universal
I have been frustrated with my picking obsession for 34 years.  I pick cuticles, scabs, pimples, ingrown hairs, I can't wait for a sunburn to peel...and its not even just me, if my husbands sunburn is peeling I am compelled to peel it...  it drives me crazy...it drives him crazier...I have stopped for a little while and then I start again...it's nice to know that other people have similar problems.  I just wish there was something to help long term, other than just distracting myself from the urge or medds...any suggestions? I would dearly love to stop finally!!!
Avatar universal
i am 41 and i cant stop either i willbeg myself to please stop and then i find myself at the next mirror for sometimes hours.  have been late for work and other thing , mainly trying to cover up the damage i have caused.  and oh my god taking a shower after a pcking session it hurts.  so until i can stop how do you all cover up your distruction.  please help!!!!
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