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  1. Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    I wasn't sure where this would fit in. Lately I have found myself obsessively picking scabs on my scalp. I do it when I am bored and even in situations when I am not aware. It is driving everyone around me CRAZY. I act like I can stop but I am not sure how. I won't even give the scabs time to heal. My mother said she used to have this condition when she was younger but grew out of it. I was just wondering if there is anyone else out there like me? If so, what did you do to stop picking? Please let me know...I am DESPERATE!


    I have noticed since I posted there have been no replies. I wasn't sure if this was because no one can relate or if people think it is a joke. It isn't a joke. I am seriously looking for some suggestions. If you can help, please let me know. Thanks so much!

  2. #2

    Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    While you wait for others to respond...

    From what I have read online, a fancy term for this compulsive behavior may be "dermatillomania," more commonly referred to as "compulsive skin picking." Antidepressants (SSRIs) are used to help treat the disorder. I would think that therapy would help too, maybe even more so since cognitive behavioral therapy is often more helpful for compulsive behaviors than medication. The ideal with OCD, at least, is therapy with meds.
    Last edited by Jazzey; June 25th, 2009 at 06:55 PM.
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  3. Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    Thank you for replying. I actually do take an anti-depressant. I take Effexor XR and have for some time now. But I understand that it would be good to unlearn this behavior through a change in thought patterns.

  4. #4

    Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    Along with therapy, keeping a journal that includes each occurrence may help:

    Case studies, open trials and small double-blind studies have demonstrated the efficacy of selective serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) reuptake inhibitors in psychogenic excoriation...

    Treatments found to be effective in case reports include a behavioural technique called 'habit reversal'; a multicomponent programme consisting of self-monitoring, recording of episodes of scratching, and procedures that produce alternative responses to scratching; and an 'eclectic' psychotherapy programme with insight-oriented and behavioural components.

    Psychogenic excoriation. Clinical features, proposed diagnostic criteria, epidemiology and approaches to treatment (2001)
    Maybe keeping the hands busy by writing, drawing, or using a stress ball may help a little since this seems to help some people with nail-biting and hair pulling:

    Try substituting another activity, such as drawing or writing or squeezing a stress ball or silly putty, when you find yourself biting your nails. If you keep a record of nail-biting, you will become more aware of the times when you bite your nails and be able to stop the habit.

    Nail-Biting - Yahoo Health
    Also, the standard treatment of compulsive hair pulling (trichotillomania) seems very similar to that of compulsive skin pulling:

    Treatment of trichotillomania usually involves a combination of:

    - Antidepressants
    - Behavior therapy, using a treatment called habit reversal

    Hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania) -
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  5. #5

    Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    Some info on "habit reversal therapy":

    Many people believe that if they stop one bad habit it will be replaced with another bad habit. However, one of the key ideas of habit reversal is to replace the harmful habit with another harmless habit that makes the bad habit impossible. This new behaviour is known as a competing response.

    A suitable competing response for skin-picking might be clenching one's fist, as this is incompatible with skin-picking. Another important part of habit reversal training is practising a suitable method of relaxation such as meditation, abdominal breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.

    excerpted from Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT) - OCD Action
    BTW, I would think using a stress ball would be less boring than clenching one's fist.
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  6. #6

    Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    I don't think anyone was ignoring you intentionally. Sarah, and I certainly don't think it was interpreted as a joke -- I for one simply missed it, probably because there were a lot of new threads that day.

    Generally, this sort of behavior is associated with some sort of anxiety disorder. You indicate that you have been taking Effexor XR for some time -- how long and what dose?

    Also, are you seeing a psychologist or other therapist as well?

  7. Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    I have been taking Effexor for about 5 years now. I take 150 mg a day. I really think I do it because of stress. I find myself doing it when I am bored or have nothing to do. I went to a site about it and it described me perfect. It is hard to explain to someone who is an outsider because they think you are consciously doing it when in turn it is really unconscious. I also didn't mean to sound mean when no one replied to my post. I just noticed so many views and wondered why no one said anything. Oh, I am not seeing a psychologist. As a college student, I have access to a psychologist during the school year and saw her a couple times my freshman year.

  8. #8

    Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    The medication will help to reduce your physiological and psychological response to stress and anxiety... however, it won't necessarily give you other ways of coping. That's where a psychologist could be helpful.

  9. #9

    Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    It is hard to explain to someone who is an outsider because they think you are consciously doing it when in turn it is really unconscious.
    That is also the case with trichotillomania:

    "Trichotillomania isn't an intentional or voluntary behavior."

    Hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania) -
    I think it is also sometimes the case with biting on pens, pencils, nails, etc. I don't consciously start biting on a pen. I just notice myself doing it after I already started, which is when I will usually put the pen away. (This is why I don't keep pens lying on my desk.)
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  10. #10

    Obsessive Scalp Scab Picking

    Welcome Sarah,

    Something else to consider is your hair care routine and products. I have had a few small pimples that are itchy and very hard not to touch when using certain products. These products are used to give you a more smooth looking hair if your hair tends to be frizzy from dryness or the curly hair type.

    They have more "oil" ingredients in them. One example is the Pantene shampoo to give you "smooth" hair. Another is the "KmS SILKER, style and condition in one step" which is applied on clean wet hair and again is meant to help with dry hair. These oil products may stimulate the subaceous glands (oil producing gland) or block the hair shaft resulting in pimples which will be itchy and do crust over.

    Maybe your hair is naturally oily and could also contribute to itching, scratching and picking crusted areas.

    Have you tried washing your hair once per day with a shampoo thats suitable to your hair type and not an oily product?

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