I Never Knew What It Was, Until It Was On Tv

For years now I've been picking at my scalp. It started not long after my parents divorced when I was 13 and Id been itching my scalp one day and felt a piece of skin which I could get my nail under, and the picking has never ended. I realize now that my scalp isn't the only thing I pick at, I'll pick at the loose skin on my feet, my lips when they're chapped, my fingers when their calloused, rough skin on my face and it's even gotten so bad that Obsessively Id ask my ex boyfriend if I could pick the sunburned skin on his back/shoulders, and even pick at his back, and when he'd say no, for some reason I would get upset over it.

Almost no one knows of my issue. My parents and best friend recognized it early on as I would sit and do it for hours without hiding it cause I didn't even realize that I was doing it myself. My father had asked me once why I did it and honestly.. I couldn't even explain.. the thing I thought was the strangest was I found the pieces of skin interesting. My mother just yelled at me, It's gross, your hair is going to fall out she'd say and it isn't that I don't want to stop.. it's become compulsive.

I've tried to stop on my own more then once, and it just never happens. When I try to stop I feel is when it itches the worst, and I've developed ticks because of it. I'll tilt my head back numerous times to get the itching sensation on the back of my neck to go away and people around me in college have actually asked if I have Turrets because of the excessive movement of my head.  In which I've told them yes, because honestly Id much rather have something that people understand, then have something that most find disgusting and repulsive.

I am now about to turn 28 and the need for this to stop is overwhelming, I just don't know what to do.  I've tried a lot of things, cutting my fingernails so short that I can't physically grab and pull skin off, however if does not stop me from itching.. and once they grow any length to which I can actually pick I start again.  I've tried wearing gloves, but due to an issue with social anxiety I am unable to wear them in public because of the fact that people normally ask why I wear them, and I can't tell them why because of the embarrassment but then I just look like the strange girl wearing gloves.  Ive actually even worn tape on my fingertips, so that if I touch my scalp my hair sticks to it and hurts when I try to pull it free.

Does anyone have any tips, or advice that might help me to stop picking.. and also.. does anyone know of any good products to make my scalp healthy again?
An Ep User An EP User
2 Responses Jan 21, 2013

dermatillomania.tumblr.com

This resonates with me. I started at age eleven (or at least it became a problem at age eleven) by pulling out all my eyebrows and eyelashes. That was very noticeable so I never did it again, instead I scratch and pick and peel my scalp and face. I try to focus on my scalp more because it's less noticeable but I'm determined to stop all together. Here's some advice I've found really helpful:1. Lemon Juice. It will sting like a b**** if you put it on an open cut but it does wonders for reducing redness and scabbing 2. Visine. This sounds weird but it also does incredible things for minimizing redness/scabbing, plus it doesn't sting (your skin will become accustomed to these things if you do it everyday so I recommend alternating-lemon juice being the cheaper alternative if your picking is mostly contained to your scalp) 3. When you're most prone to pick, for me this is at night, put on a creme that hardens into a mask and leave it on. For your scalp, indulge in a good leave-in moisturizer or treatment, put it in, and wrap a towel around your head until the hair has dried (even if the bottle says leave it in for five minutes), then rinse it, then re-wrap and re-dry. It buys you time and makes you feel better overall.4. Drink a ton of water, when I was in middle school after severe picking I would drink at least one bottle of seltzer, usually two, the difference you'll notice in your skin after you sleep is startling 5. Put baby powder in your hair and on your face (a little goes a long way) it absorbs oil more effectively than any fancy schmancy powder and it clogs the pores less.6. Resist the urge by posting on here. The urge is almost impossible to resist, I know. I'll sit in one place for hours urging myself to hit "unmute" or respond to a text or anything else but it doesn't stop the picking. This place has been most helpful for me.