Facial Picking

I have been picking at my scalp for years. And more recently my chin and my fingers. Right now, my chin is a mess. I heal, then I pick at it, and so the cycle goes.

Someone else described being in a trance-like state when one is picking and that's true for me also. I don't realize I'm like that until I stop a picking session and the world around me becomes "more real" again, if that makes sense.

I know that anxiety and stress trigger the picking. In some ways, I'd rather pick than face my feelings. Yesterday and today, I have had a couple of times when I didn't pick, but cried like hell instead. I guess we know what that is. I've been struggling with depression for about 9 months now (this time) while the dr. tries to get my meds straight. I've been hospitalized twice since October for depression, but have been out for about 4 months now.

I know this site is about skin picking and not depression, but I'm sure that depression is an underlying cause/issue for some of us that triggers our picking.  It's easier to focus on the sores, bloody spots than it is to face my feelings.

Very strange situation we're in because we're both the victim and the victimizer at the same time. I know we all suffer greatly because of this picking. I have to leave the house daily so hiding isn't an option for me (I work full-time.) I've just decided to the hell with what other people think, it's an outlet for me.

My therapist is trying to help me find other outlets for the pain than the picking. She suggested meditative practice--observing myself having a feeling and how I react to a situation on an intellectual level and having an internal dialogue with myself about it without judging the feeling. And she also suggested holding a cold ice cube in the hand that picks instead of picking. It supposedly triggers the endorphins that picking does without hurting you (other than making your hand really cold!). My problem is that I pick in situations when I'm NOT near ice cubes--in the car on the way to/from work, in the bathroom, while reading (if I'm at home, sure I could hold the ice cube), but in public I can't really do that. I have been known to pick in public. Sometimes, the compulsion is that strong that I don't care if people see me doing it or not.

I'm sure people are grossed out by it when I do that, but mostly I think people would just think I'm weird and go on about their business. I've found that people are very self-absorbed most of the time and not paying attention to others around them.

Let us all have courage to share and open up about this. I'm so happy I've found this board of like-minded sufferers.


readingjill readingjill
5 Responses May 2, 2008

Thanks guys for your support. This is the 2nd week I've bought a cigarette lighter and tried to burn my arm/hand area. Just burned a little bit.<br />
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One thing I forgot in my main post above is that does anyone remember Ali McGraw in The Breakfast Club picking her scalp and sending down skin parts that looked like snow when she's in detention? That's the best I've seen to compare with what I do with my scalp. Of course, others in the brat pack told her she was gross for doing that, but then what do you expect in a John Hughes movie, huh???

Hey,<br />
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Thanx for responding to my recent bulletin. Its just nice to know there are others out there. I've never heard of the ice-cube strategy...maybe i'll give that a try, but honestly when I get into my "trance" mode, ice would be the last thing on my mind. By that time I am long gone in the Twilight Zone. So you don't cover it up, or wear make-up or anything? I really admire that, I could never find the courage to go out in public without make-up. I totally agree that picking is liked to depresssion. I hope you get better, I hope we all get better.

Its so true what you said about the trance and things feeling more real afterwards. Maybe thats also a reason why we do it, to feel alive and to feel outward pain (instead of inward pain). I too suffer with depression & have done for many years now and I know that my skin picking is not only as a result of that but also what makes the depression worse. I always pick more when I know I have to go into a social situation & I feel like I am trying to make myself seem weird/ social outkast and abnormal when I do go out. Sometimes it stops me going out & I start a fight to make sure I dont, the stress of which which also makes the picking worse. Its an ongoing cycle of pain & anxiety isn it? I have recently become obsessed with the notion of getting tattoos in the hope that this will help me & re-direct my thoughts. Thanks too for sharing & the tip about ice was interesting, shame we cant access ice all the time/ carry it around with us somehow.

I pick too. I search my body for pimples and then annoy them until I am satisified, but sometimes they get infected. I have two that got to that point on my chest that I still pick at and bother with. I know I shouldn't do it, but I just do. But I have found it spreading. The ones I had been doing were under my shirt so I couldn't do it when I was out, but recently I had one of the side of my face that I've opened a few times and one on my chin and one by my nose. It worries me, but no one else has seems to notice. Well mom has seen me trying to get the ones on my chest and fusses that they will scar. I guess she thinks that is supposed to be a deterent. But ya. Thank you for commenting and sharing.

Thanks for sharing, and having the courage to be open. I really admire that.