• Quote of the Day
    "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest
    compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
    Leo Buscaglia , posted by Cat Dancer

aniston30062

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2005
Messages
12
Points
1
So I heard about this condition but I cant find much on it. For years I have constantly picked the skin around my fingers and toes... but I never thought anything about it. Its gotten really bad lately, i pick the cuticles until they bleed and I cant stop! so I went to look it up on Google and I read some things about this thing called chronic skin picking... Does anyone know anything more about this? Or is this some form of OCD...
 

Eunoia

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
785
Points
16
I would say that's almost a form of self-injury behaviour but I guess that depends on why you do it etc. I also googled and found the following, which seem like good sites w/ lots of info:

- http://www.psychnet-uk.com/dsm_iv/skin_picking.htm
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_skin_picking
- http://psy.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/42/5/397
(you might try finding this article if it interest you)
- http://www.ocdaction.org.uk/ocdaction/index.asp?id=348
(Suggestions to stop)

I'm not suggesting it's OCD related etc., I don't really have expertise in that, but it's worth a try checking out some info. Also, go talk to your doctor and see what she/he says. Especially if you end up bleeding! That could end up in infections... or just pain. Could also be anxiety related... my sister did something similar to this for a very long time, and I think a huge part of it was anxiety, but it was more nail biting to that extend. Good luck in trying to find the right info.
 

comfortzone

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2005
Messages
405
Points
16
Hi Aniston,

It sounds anxiety related. For it to be OCD: you stop a regular task to do this behavior. I have a client who does this and his is more anxiety related. You have heard the saying, "Something is eating at me." This type of behavior is similar only it is "picking at you." If you have a therapist, I would recommend bringing this behavior to their attention. I would recommend learning relaxation techniques to reduce your anxiety level. Once I heard a good saying, "Worry is like a rocking chair, gives you something to do, but you don't get anywhere." You might with your therapist's help try to figure out the triggers to your anxiety. Take care and keep us posted.
 

Diana

Member
Joined
May 26, 2005
Messages
297
Points
16
I constantly pick at my fingers and sometimes chew the loose skin. I never thought of it as a disorder before! I have caused bleeding or rawness when I've gotten carried away with one area, but this doesn't always happen all the time. Right now I just looked at my hands and they look good, but there are always signs of at least a little bit of picking. I just do it constantly though. Not only when I'm nervous or feel anxiety. Even if I'm not really picking, I'm always rubbing my fingers or lightly scratching them. It's weird. It doesn't get in the way of my life or anything - although if I tried to make kimchi I guess I'd have to wear plastic gloves (red pepper powder burns!). It drives my boyfriend crazy though, and other people who are close to me have noticed it as well. My mom tried to stop me from doing it for a long time. My boyfriend will physically hold one of my hands to separate them. We sometimes end up laughing about it, but it does bother him. I also crack my knuckles a lot, but I'm not sure if this is any relation. I'm not too worried about it, but it's interesting as I've now seen skin picking in relation with OCD, body dismorphic disorder and anorexia.
 

Banned

Banned
Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2005
Messages
4,893
Points
36
I bite my nails severely. I never actually thought of bringing it to my therapist's attention; I've done it since I had teeth. Maybe I should - maybe we can do something about it.
 

Diana

Member
Joined
May 26, 2005
Messages
297
Points
16
My father always bit his nails and the skin around his fingers too. He's a wonderful person, but he is kind of intense. I wonder if this kind of behaviour could even be genetic or just learned.
 

Eunoia

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
785
Points
16
at first I thought why would there be a genetic factor for nail biting, it seems more like a (compulsive) habit... but who knows, so many things have environmental and biological influences. And considering some people use it when they're stressed, or tend to bite their nails more when stressed or anxious, it would make sense to have some overlap w/ other disorders. So I tried to find some info on this, this is what I could come up w/:

There are many that now believe that compulsive hair pulling, skin picking, and nail biting form a subgroup of what is becoming known as the Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder Spectrum. OCD has been previously been regarded as only a single disorder. It may in fact represent a range of related disorders, including classic OCD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, Trichotillomania, Onychophagia, Compulsive Skin Picking, Compulsive Nail Biting, and Tourette's Syndrome.

this is from: http://www.homestead.com/westsuffolkpsych/SkinPicking.html

- Article on nail biting & stress
http://www.stfrancis.edu/srsymposium/projects/swrk/bmutz_etal_swrk.pdf

- touches on genetic component and nail biting as it emerges in kids... maybe some interesting factors about the family?
http://www.parentkidsright.com/pt-nailbiting.html
 

comfortzone

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2005
Messages
405
Points
16
Repetitive behaviors such as curling your hair around a finger, rocking in a rocking chair, rosiery beads or worry stones as well as any other behaviors (even nail biting) "activates" the release of Serotonin, which helps one relax by lowering anxiety. I had one client who bit her fingernails and I asked her if she could use a worry stone instead. She has been using it since without biting a nail.
 

Eunoia

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
785
Points
16
but is it really as simple as replacing the behaviour (nail biting, skin picking, pulling one's hair etc.) w/ another behaviour that's more "appropriate"? Then why do so many people bite their nails or pull their hair etc., only b/c they lack knowledge of better coping skills for anxiety? I mean I know about worry stones but that doesn't replace all of the above... I'm not saying they don't work, I know they do but then what's the other thing that makes people not stop those behaviours? Motivation? Committment?
 

comfortzone

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2005
Messages
405
Points
16
Replacing a negative behavior with a positive one both take time and commitment to oneself and to therapy. The replacement can be accomplished via therapy or hypnosis. There are different views on how one can stop unwanted behaviors whether they are related to anxiety or a disorder. These therapeutic techniques do require regular attendance to sessions but a person could once they have worked through similar issues could be able to achieve the same results with a different concern.
 

Eunoia

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
785
Points
16
that makes sense. but not everyone is in therapy and I doubt that these behaviours themselves would make someone go to therapy or through hypnosis I guess. Unless they really do interefere a lot w/ the person's life... I guess as w/ everything else it's on a continuum.... then do you thin that someone can just use their "willpower" to stop??? by no means am I saying that it's that easy, I'm just wondering how far one's one will can take you....
 

comfortzone

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2005
Messages
405
Points
16
Unless they really do interefere a lot w/ the person's life

This is a good point. OCD is not OCD if the person's behaviors and thoughts are not interfering with life. "Willpower" might help someone who does not have more serious problems. I think it depends upon how a person thinks. If they think it won't work, then most likely it won't.

(The way a person looks at life makes a big difference in so many ways.)
 

David Baxter

Administrator
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
37,359
Points
63
I think this is true of many (perhaps most) disorders: We're really talking about dimensions of behaviors or personality traits. We call it a "disorder" when it reaches a certain threshold, defined by meeting a minimum number of DSM criteria.

Most of us have some obsessive or compulsive traits. Many of us have some ADD-like traits. Some of those are actually quite adaptive in at least certain situations.
 

Banned

Banned
Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2005
Messages
4,893
Points
36
I talked to my therapist today about my nail biting. He suggested that I try and chew gum or something in it's place. The problem is that sometimes I don't even realize I'm biting, and once I do, I CAN'T stop - I need to finish "just this nail" or "just this hand". He asked to see my fingers and I was mortified - they are hideous, ugly. He looked at them and said "yeah they're pretty bad". I want to quit, but I doubt it will be as easy as chewing gum in it's place. Maybe it's time to dig out the rosary beads, Dr. Dobson hee hee. I could reap the spiritual benefits instead.

I asked about hypnosis for it - he wasn't sold on it being a good solution for me, so I'll just try and be aware of it I guess.

It's funny - I'm a dog trainer, and when I talk to someone about untraining a negative behavior, I tell them there are four positive ways to do it -

Train an incompatible behavior (so in this case it could mean typing a letter or doing the dishes...I can't chew my nails and do either of those things at the same time)

Put the behavior on cue (so I could allot myself say - ten minutes a day to chew)

Change the motivation (yeah right haha)

Shape the absence (it's hard to self reward)

But I can see how, if I really worked at it, any of these techniques could work in this situation.
 

Eunoia

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
785
Points
16
lol BG.. I guess it could work to apply the techniques you use to train dogs... it does come down to trying to eliminate an unwanted behaviour, but as you said, in "the moment" it's kind of difficult to even be aware that you're doing it... but eventually, I find, you do notice and then I guess you could try to do those things... or doing more things in general to relax or stay busy etc. so that you don't really have time or have the need to deal w/ anxiety, boredom etc. in those ways...
 

dainja

Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
12
Points
1
skin picking

Hi my name is Jessica, i am 25 and have benn picking my skin for more then 15 years, i realized lately that it was a problem, and that not everyone does that. i've learned that the conditon has a name, it is neurotic excoriation, and there is a lot of information on it out there, the only problem is that it is only treated with anti-depressers, and i don't want to take them..... does anyone know of some other treatements available for this.
 
Top Bottom