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Addictive Behaviours Discuss and receive support for addictions not related to substance use, such as gambling, Internet, sex or work addictions, in this forum.

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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
atselzer Offline
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addiction to scab picking - December 18th 2015, 12:52 AM

I started picking my scabs one day when I was very young (9 years) and I was kind of bored. Since then it has escalated severally. I have scars all up and down my legs from previous sores. I have began self harming just so I can later pick at the scab. I often have to excuse myself from school and public places to go to the bathroom and pick my scabs. I don't know why I do this, I guess I get some sense of relief from doing it. If I don't pick at one of my scabs for a little, I start to get anxiety that only goes away once I have picked at that scab. I don't know how to stop this behavior.
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Re: addiction to scab picking - December 20th 2015, 01:55 AM


Picking your scabs is a form of self-harm. Anything you do with the intention of harming yourself is considered self-harm. Do you know what makes you feel like doing this? You said you get anxiety until you pick. Do you use any coping skills for anxiety? Anxiety can be really hard to deal with it but there are a lot of coping skills for it. Something that is good to focus on with anxiety is your breathing. A lot of times, your breathing will change without you noticing it and that can make things worse. It might help if you try to pay attention to that and then take some deep breaths to steady yourself.

You can also lie down in bed and watch your stomach rise and fall with your breathing. You can listen to music, color, or anything you find relaxing. Maybe you can try to figure out what is triggering your anxiety so you can work on that. Definitely find an outlet for your feelings if you don't already have one. You can keep a journal, or blog. Do you think you can keep something in your hands to keep them busy? You could look around for some fidget toys to keep your hands away from your scabs. In the meantime, here are some self-harm alternatives to take a look at.

Hang in there.

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Re: addiction to scab picking - December 20th 2015, 08:52 PM

Hey I do this too! I've been doing it from like a really young age too. Like you I have scars literally on my arms, legs, all over from the picking. It's alot more common than you think, I also cut. I find myself picking at my scabs what ever I'm doing. Nothing seems to like actually stop me from picking them. No matter how hard I try not to like actually pick the scabs my fingers end up running along my arms, etc and I'm picking away. I do find keeping my hands busy helps so things the xbox or colouring does work for a little while but as soon as I'm done I'm back to picking at myself...

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Re: addiction to scab picking - December 22nd 2015, 03:50 AM

The above posters offered great advice so I don't have much to add but I do hope I can help some.

When you've been in a habit for that many years, it can be incredibly hard to break that habit but I do believe it's possible. Quitting all at once will be incredibly difficult after all this time, but can you slowly resist urges to pick at your scabs? You can take it step by step by not quitting altogether but lessening how many scabs you pick at. Even just resisting one urge will contribute, then try to make it through the next one. It'll take time but you can beat this.

You mentioned that you experience anxiety if you don't pick your scabs and I was wondering - can you identify the root of your anxiety? Tackling the cause at hand may help you tackle the issue of needing to pick at your scabs. Is it possible for you to see a therapist? That may be beneficial for you.

Are you able to cover up the scabs? Covering them with band-aids and treating them with antibiotic ointment will help them heal faster and hopefully reduce the urge to pick at them since you won't be able to feel or see them.

In public places and at school when you have to excuse yourself, is it possible to have an inner-debate? Try convincing yourself not to excuse yourself because you don't deserve to be hurting yourself, and that giving in will only feed the addiction. Having distractions such as a bracelet or wristband to fidget with, doodling at school during breaks, or chewing gum may help you focus on something other until the urge passes and also refocus your thoughts on something other than your anxiety.

Referring to alternatives on the list that Cassado linked you to may be helpful. Try out some of those things when you feel like picking at scabs or self-harming to create wounds that scab. Speaking of, one alternative in particular may help replace the sensation of picking at scabs, which is putting PVA/Elmer's glue on your hands then peeling it off. That may provide a similar sensation.

Lastly, well done for reaching out. I hope this helped, and I wish you the best of luck. You can beat this addiction so don't give up.
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Re: addiction to scab picking - December 28th 2015, 07:36 AM

Hi there,

I'm sorry you're going through a hard time right now but so glad you've took the chance to reach out to us.i know that can be scary but you've done it!

It sounds to me like anxiety is the main trigger to your self harm. How can you deal with self harm? Cassidy had a great idea about breathing. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Have you tried doing relaxation or mindfulness? These can really help settle anxiety and you can search for some on YouTube.

If you want to talk to us more about what's going on then please feel free too. We're here it listen to you and we're rooting you through this.

Hopes and wishes,

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