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Scratching My Scalp , Can't Stop

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Posted (edited)

I'm not sure

Edited by RockyGirl

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There is a name for this.  It's  called trich for short.  It's somewhere in between an anxiety disorder and impulse control disorder such as Tourette's.  If it's more of the later, something like Clonidine or Tenex might be worth a try if more traditional anxiety treatments haven't helped.

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It does sound like anxiety. I had a bad kind of scalp dermatitis or psoriasis a long time ago. I also had those thick patches of crusty scalp and could not stop picking at it. (I was also very freaked out at the time.)

You might try a dandruff shampoo like Selsun Blue or one that Neutrongena has for this.

The shampoo might soothe your scalp in addition to the cortisone cream.

I was very self conscious when I had this problem. I hope it starts to clear up for you soon.

If you like more natural products, I think tea tree oil shampoo might help this. Check out the health food store.

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Ha, this board is awesome. I was just looking to see where to post this myself.

I have always had some scalp acne...transitory, and if I keep my hair short AND don't pick at it, it clears up. Tar shampoo helps alot to clear the bacteria and speed healing.

However, the obsessiveness comes when I pick at it. The picking is periodic, and the behavior is not unlike a monkey grooming: restlessly running fingers through every millimeter of my scalp, looking for zits or scabs, or any blemish or irregularity, really. Then picking at it or prodding, etc.

Up until this week, it's never been that severe. Just periodic behavior that lapsed on it's own. Now I'm on Cymbalta...first week. The Cymbalta interferes with my sleep. So in my sleepy but agitated state, I am destroying my scalp. Long periods in bed just molesting my poor head. I do it in the day too, but it's worst at night. My hair is now too long, perpetuating the cycle and also lowering my self-esteem. I'm afraid to do my usual head shaving routine at home, for fear of exposing the damage. I'm afraid to go to the barber because of the shame.

Well, pdoc today. It's not as worrisome as I'm probably sounding here, but I just wanted to share my experience. It's comforting to know you are not the only one.

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Posted

hi. i have had spots on my head for two years. my body is in pain. i am on pian meds for f.m. pain, but i think the body pain i have is linked to my scalp. he doctor i have says let's not talk about the scalp let's treat the pain. I take ultram er and lyrica. Also the total max of tylenol and motrin that you can take in one day. I am a 35 year old woman with three kids and a wonderful husband. I do have alot of anger issues with my past.(bad relationships and a molesting neighbor). I do not kow what to do. Im sure my husband is teird of paying for meds and anything to help me. I tell my husband that i want to die sometimes. but i really do not. I feel like a self-centered pig.

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Posted

trichtillomania.

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Hi,

I have pretty much the same problem. It is caused by ANXIETY and OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER. I take EFFEXOR for my anxiety, but it doesn't stop the scratching. It is mainly like biting nails..you WANT to do it. If you can GET YOUR MIND OFF of the urge to scratch, you will eventually RESIST the temptation and will STOP. I stopped for a long time, but problems with my Autistic son started increasing my anxiety levels, so I started scratching again. I did however QUIT biting my nails!!

Try LAVENDER OIL (might find in a HEALTH FOOD STORE OR HERBAL REMEDIES STORE). It is supposed to help your hair grow back and heal the places on your scalp. Also, DON'T wash your hair with just ANY shampoo!! Most shampoos contain SULFATES (to help lather). Sulfates will make you LOSE HAIR!! Try to find a shampoo FREE from SULFATES. A GOOD quality shampoo will cost a LOT more than store-bought shampoo. "BED HEAD" is a good shampoo. Good luck!!

P.S. Seeing a THERAPIST might help also. The problem is MORE common than you might think. :-)

I'm not sure

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Posted

I had the same issue after having my daughter, my hair started falling out and at the nape of my neck I got sores and acne and my scalp would bleed, it hurts, especially in the summer when I perspired. I would run my fingers through ever centimeter of my head scratching spots and running the dead hairs out. I was balding at 21.

My advice is see a doctor, use the tar shampoo, if it is really bad, like mine was and you are female die a shade darker using ammonia free low chemical die and side sweep your hair and use hair clips to keep it up. Do as little stress as possible to your head, it will grow back, mine did, it took 2 years to come back but it was worth it. A shorter hair cut helps too and keep your scalp clean and see a dermatologist about a cream they have that you can put on it, it will heal it fast and keep your scalp moisturized.

It is OCD I think, I saw a GP for my issue, and my friend does hair I called her and she did magic with my hair. There are shampoos out there to stop the hair loss as well but it is very expensive, the best thing is to see a doctor and get a prescription. I still pick some times but not as bad as I used to. I jus keep reminding myself of the baldness.

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Posted

I'm not sure

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Posted

look up dermatillomania or impulse control disorders

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look up dermatillomania or impulse control disorders

i actually have this problem myself. i have to cut my fingernails as short as possible because i will scratch my head until it bleeds for no apparent reason.

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Posted

Just wanted to say that when I was in my teens I did that. Up til then I used to pick the skin off my fingers. Then it moved to my head, and I had a bald spot about the size of an English 10p piece (I suppose it is about 1 inch across) on the top of my head. Mostly it wasn't fresh skin though, it was usually a horrid scab which I just couldn't stop picking. I eventually stopped doing it but I can't remember when or even why. I think I went back to picking at my fingers then.

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i do this, too. i also bite my nails, pick at my skin, and tear off my scabs.. lately, i have been scratching at the skin on the inside of my ear until it bleeds then i pick off the scabs. it's terrible. some people call it dermatillomania but i've heard it called body dysmorphic disorder as well. here's a site a little bit about it: http://www.ocfoundation.org/organizedchaos...aos-V001_03.php i think it must be an anxiety/ocd thing because i also tend to do it when im nervous or thinking about something distressing.

i don't really know what to tell you about how to stop it. if i could stand wearing gloves or pull that "fashion" off, i might do that. i know that keeping your nails short doesn't do anything because i bite my nails down to nothing and still manage to scratch away at it. it kind of helps to have the boyfriend i have because everytime he sees me doing it he yells at me and tells me to stop.

to me, it just feels like i hate having any bump or imperfection. i scan over my scalp with my fingers and pick at any little scab or bump i feel. i don't really know when it started.

i wish i could help you more, i wish i could stop myself, but its sooo hard! even when i know im doing it and want to stop i can't, it's like im not even in control of myself.. it really sucks. i know it is really embrassing but you should tell all your friends and family about it and saying how bad of a habit it is, and get them to tell you to quit every time they see you doing it. i think it's easier for me to stop when people point it out to me because im so embarassed that it's that noticeable so i quit at least for the time being.

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Posted

I do this as well. And pick my shoulders, back, butt legs....... any bug bite turns into a scar sooner or later. It feels 'interesting', bumpy, I want to see how big a scab I can get off, you name it.

From time to time, I get worried I'll get a staph infection, lather myself w/Neosporin, start to heal. But it comes back sooner or later.

I've even been in a half asleep state, in bed, thinking it was my 'job' to pick myself clean of bumps and scabs. Wake up w/blood streaked sheets.

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I've even been in a half asleep state, in bed, thinking it was my 'job' to pick myself clean of bumps and scabs. Wake up w/blood streaked sheets.

again, sorry i can't be of much help, but omg.. i do this too! it's so weird. i feel like i have to do something in order to sleep, as i'm basically sleeping, and usually it is my scalp though sometimes it is toenails for some reason, and i will wake up with blood all under my fingernails.. ah. craziness. but still nothing constructive to say, really. ): im sorry.

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as i'm basically sleeping, and usually it is my scalp though sometimes it is toenails for some reason, and i will wake up with blood all under my fingernails.. ah. craziness.

It's embarrassing! My husband says I need little mittens like Rosemary's Baby on his devil claws. Or he'll look at the blood streaked sheets and ask if I sacrificed a chicken in the middle of the night.

He'll never yell at me to stop if he sees me doing it during the day, thank goodness, but might try to redirect my attention. I'm careful to wait until he leaves the room now.

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Posted (edited)

I see someone found this old thread. I really did appreciate the advice. I never told my derm what I was doing, but he knew. I found out later that what was setting this particular episode off is the folliculitis on my scalp. It is somehow associated with the rosacea I have.

I was under tremendous stress in 03 when they took me off the stealizine I had been taking since 1988. We have never really found a really suitable substitute , so I am nuts half or more of the time . However, I took seroquel for the last 2-3 years and it did help me sleep but did little for the impulse control. But they have had to take me off it due to a health problem I recently found out about. I now am on Lamictil and I take zyprexa 2.5 2-3 times a week. It is just a trade off with the zyprexa as it controls the craziness better. I can't take it everyday due to diabetes. Also , I found that if I use Selsun Blue to shower with and shampoo- It cuts down on the folliculitis and if the sores are not on my scalp so I have less tendency to scratch. Sometimes I do this without the sores to trigger it.

Since I wrote that post my anxiety and depression has eased a little. It was a situational thing, one that has devastated me-- one that maybe one day I will be able to share, but can't now. I am still prone to it so watch it carefully. At the first sign of anything I jump on it.

I have seen animals , esp dogs do this. If they are stressed they will scratch themselves bald. They do exactly what we as humans do, they literally attack their own body. That is how I see this, an attempt to destroy my own body. I still bite my nails to the quick, but I am getting better at that too.

I sort of recall what it is related to as a child. My mother was a pretty woman and as I began to grow up she was just viciously resentful of my youth . This is bound to happen b/c as I got older , she did too. She did not take it so well and wanted to take it away from me. She was losing her youth so she wanted me not to have one. She made my life miserable . It is a creepy thing but true. She grew so jealous of me that she'd read pop psychology and then say really dumb things like " I know you are at the age when you are in love with your father, but he's mine, go find your own man". I swear this is true. So what it has done is make me try to just destroy every vestige of what is viewed as beauty for a woman, hair, nails ,skin, etc. I am fighting it now and trying very hard to take care of my body.

My depression has lifted a little with the lamictil. I am still nuts however and sit and talk to myself and act goofy if over stimulated. Over stimulation includes just about anything that involves leaving my house.

But one step at a time.

Stars

"I noticed it happens when I'm afraid I'm not telling the complete truth. ninja.gif (talk about the story book character who nose grew when he lied) " Quoting myself

I am not a liar, but I have a feeling that I am. I feel like if I do not share every tiny thought that I'm not being honest. This unfortunately comes from being called a liar a lot as a child . I grew up in a very restrictive religion , almost a cult. I just am so screwed , you can't even imagine. I left if a few years back as Meat Loaf songs says " though the nightmare should be over, some of the terrors are still intact..."

Edited by Stars

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bump

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I do this too. Pick at sores on my scalp until they bleed. I eat the skin/scabs that I pull off my head. I can't stop. Didn't realize it was a disorder...

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Stars, Trust me, you are not alone. I was diagnosed with Psoriasis four years ago but even before then, I would have scratched myself raw in almost every place you can name. I still do it sometimes but not as bad. With the Psoriasis, it is even worse. I have tried many different meds for it, I now administer injections for it every 2 weeks. It is improving. But of course the itch remains. I usually have to take benydryl or Trazadone to help me sleep. And of course it doesn't help that I use sharp wire coat hangers to scratch my back. I know that it's wrong but it feels so good! And once I've had a good session, I like to look to see how much flaking skin I scraped off my back. I am sometimes disappointed when there's not much there (this means the injections are working). yes, I suffer from anxiety & depression- I take Zoloft, Buspar and Wellbutrin. I tried eliminating one of the meds with doctor's approval but I had severe mood swings (anger) when I stopped so I resumed what I went off of. Like one poster on this thread said, I too often look for something to pick at on my body. I do see a therapist and I am sure a lot of this has to do with my being abused as a child- I guess I am used to a "rough touch". I was sexually abused too and I would often wipe myself till I bled when I went to the bathroom for many years. I'm not nearly as bad now. So we all have our issues and different ways of dealing with them. Good Luck Stars and everyone else on this board. Hopefully we will all find a way to eliminate these bad habits one day.

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Omg i sumtimes pick during the day but at nite is when its real bad whe im in bed.. ive aways been a picker ill pick at anything on my body but damn my head hurts but i just cant stop

Ha, this board is awesome. I was just looking to see where to post this myself.

I have always had some scalp acne...transitory, and if I keep my hair short AND don't pick at it, it clears up. Tar shampoo helps alot to clear the bacteria and speed healing.

However, the obsessiveness comes when I pick at it. The picking is periodic, and the behavior is not unlike a monkey grooming: restlessly running fingers through every millimeter of my scalp, looking for zits or scabs, or any blemish or irregularity, really. Then picking at it or prodding, etc.

Up until this week, it's never been that severe. Just periodic behavior that lapsed on it's own. Now I'm on Cymbalta...first week. The Cymbalta interferes with my sleep. So in my sleepy but agitated state, I am destroying my scalp. Long periods in bed just molesting my poor head. I do it in the day too, but it's worst at night. My hair is now too long, perpetuating the cycle and also lowering my self-esteem. I'm afraid to do my usual head shaving routine at home, for fear of exposing the damage. I'm afraid to go to the barber because of the shame.

Well, pdoc today. It's not as worrisome as I'm probably sounding here, but I just wanted to share my experience. It's comforting to know you are not the only one.

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Tea tree oil helped me a lot. I was using it as a natural pesticide for the bugs that I didn't really have on my head at the time, but it *did* reduce the itching better than any steroid.

I did the finger picking starting around 4 years old, progressed to scalp picking in adolescence.

It reached OCD proportions in conjunction with a departure from the reality that most people commonly enjoy. I had bloody, crusty bald spots the size of my fist all over my head. My dermatologist called it "alopecia areata", which meant I didn't have hair and she didn't know why. I was also flirting with anorexia simultaneously, with my weight hanging out between 95-100 lbs, so that could have been a factor. Another dermatologist diagnosed me with lupus. I didn't care what it was, I just wanted to stop scratching.

Put knowledge in the hands of a crazy person and one has trouble. I was totally convinced that the itching was from bugs, and having been a double major (English/Chemistry), I had a decent microscope from biology. So after tons of staring at my hair roots under the microscope looking for novel creepy crawlies, I *did* find something that was making me itch, all right.... ringworm (which is a FUNGUS, not a buggie).

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH COMPULSIVE SCRATCHING:

(learned the hard way):

1. Wash whatever hair you have left with tea tree oil shampoo. If you have a nice doctor, you might also try prescription strength ketoconazole on alternating days.

2. Use straight tea tree oil on the scalp. The sting takes away the itch.

3. Cut your nails and your hair short. With shorter hair, the new growth won't look so out of place.

(daughter number middle has the same issue, and when her hair grew back, it formed a tight ringlet on the back of her head, like a curly tail. The rest of her hair was waist length. We named the new growth "Fluffy", and he became a family member. I was almost sad to see him grow out).

4. Wear a bandana, tying the top triangular part to the knot at the nape. This protects the bald spot from sun as well as your scratching.

5. A light cotton hat is okay, too, if you don't take it on and off.

6. Don't let cats sleep on your head. They are notorious carriers of ringworm.

TIPS FOR KNOWING YOU HAVE RINGWORM:

1. You itch

2. You have scaly circles of skin with sort of soggy middles (if on your scalp).

3. Your doctor tells you so

Remember that I'm not a doctor, and my experience may vary from yours. Stress definitely seems to be a trigger in the whole scalp scratching, nail biting, skin picking land of bloody flakies.

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I did that when I had lice in grade school. I mean, I really scratched the hell out of my scalp, and then, whatever scabs would form, I would pick those, eventually my hairline, and beyond, underneath my hair, was this huge bloody mass of scabs and blood from the picking. I couldn't stop doing it. My parents yelled at me for it, but I didn't stop. I never lost any hair really though, so that's good, maybe a little around the hairline. I would pick out hairs a lot with scabs on them, but not to the point that there were actual bald spots, that I can recall.

now I just pick my skin a lot, but not severely, most of the time. Sometimes it can get pretty bad, but I'd probably do the same to this day if I had scabs around my hairline again. I'm bad about picking, but not the worst.

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Damn, I do this too... Can't seem to stop it. It started when I was on Nardil. I thought I was OCD when I was on that crap. I started doing all kinds of weird things.

-Tom

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Damn, I do this too... Can't seem to stop it. It started when I was on Nardil. I thought I was OCD when I was on that crap. I started doing all kinds of weird things.

-Tom

I think I'm worse about picking at shit on my body on certain meds too. It was REALLY bad on Effexor and now it's getting bad again on Cymbalta. This could e my imagination, but it's weird that they are both SNRI's and I've had this shit worsen on BOTH of them.

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