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I Constantly Pick at My Skin

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From Canada: I’m 20 and I pick the skin on my fingers all the time. It has been over a year since I have seen my fingers without cut marks all over them. I bit or rip off my skin. I’m always stressed and bite or claw at my hands to clam down but it only seems to make my stress worse in the end. It’s particularly bad when there is actually some obvious thing to stress over. I have tried to stop many times but I can’t. I’m beginning to loose feeling in my fingers. Is there any way I can deal with the stress better? Sometimes I catch myself and think I should stop, but I never care enough when I’m picking at my fingers to actually stop.
Please help.

I Constantly Pick at My Skin

Answered by on -

A.

What you are describing is called excoriation disorder. At this point, the solution you found to calm your anxiety has become another problem. Please don’t be embarrassed by this. It’s more common than you might think.

The answer is to go after the anxiety directly. Please consider seeing a therapist for an evaluation. Some anti-anxiety medication might give you enough relief so you could stop yourself before starting to hurt your fingers. It may also give you the emotional room you need to do the talk therapy you need to do to learn self-calming skills. Long term, I would hope you’d develop coping skills that are strong enough that you could go off the medication.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I Constantly Pick at My Skin

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I Constantly Pick at My Skin. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/04/25/i-constantly-pick-at-my-skin/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.