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TRIGGER FOR SOME MAYBE

I scratch and scratch on my scalp until it bleeds. I pick at scabs too that form on my scalp. It is a self soothing and comforting act to me and helps reduce anxiety levels too. I don't notice the pain until later.

I dont stop either until my head is so damn sore and just pounding. It is painful to wash my hair in the shower. I do this day after day. It feels like a maladaptive coping skill.

Is this SI? Or part of my OCD? I don't know how to stop this! I do it more often at times and it gets intense, then it may or may not get a tad better then gets worse again.

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Here is what I found...it is a type of skin picking also known as Dermatillomania. I suggest that you buy a shampoo such as Selsun Blue or Head & Shoulders with either selenium or zinc as the active ingredient, and avoid the ones containing salicylic acid as they may further irritate it. You definitely need a healthier outlet instead of this type of behavior but I know you may be addicted. The scabs probably first formed from seborrheic dermatitis, so look into that as well (and possibly just a bad case of dandruff).

 

"The scope of the compulsion to pick includes scalp picking, or the act of picking the scalp skin on the head. This aspect of the compulsion falls under the diagnostic categories that include Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), which is indicative of a distorted perception of one’s own body. It is the problem of distorted perception that characterizes a diagnosis of neurosis." 

 

I think it has more to do with OCD than anything else, and you could try chewing gum, using a rubber band and snapping it, or getting a PRN prescribed when you feel like doing this. Good luck!

 

And stay awesome....Have a HAPPPPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!     I am slightly drunk so I hope I was of some decent help.

Edited by Forbidden91
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Thanks you guys. You have both been very helpful. Sorry you go through this too dancing.

And thanks for all the info forbidden. That is very useful. I like your chewing gum suggestion. That would keep me focused on the flavor maybe and distract my hands from scratching. I think I have some gum in my purse. I will try that now.

And Mods please feel free to move this post if it isn't in the correct board.

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It could easily be related to your OCD. I don't know much about OCD though, to be honest, but I have heard that skin picking is related to it. 

 

It sounds like a form of SI to me too though. I used to SI to relieve anxiety as well. Ultimately, what is most important is how to treat the behavior. Though, I understand how treating it might differ depending on if it's more SI-like or OCD-like. 

 

In terms of helping you stop, have you taken a look at some of the pinned threads on this board? The I Wanted To Self Harm... thread is very helpful for coming up with ideas on how to stop. 

 

When do you find you pick the most? When are you most anxious? What kinds of things make you anxious? These are some questions that are good to ask when trying to figure out methods for stopping, because they help you suss out the root of the problem. 

 

For me, I would SI the most in the evening, in my bedroom. I was most anxious at night, because I was alone with my thoughts. Learning this about myself helped me to figure out the best ways for me to stop, which were removing myself from my "safe space" (my bedroom) and going to talk to someone, so that I wasn't alone with my negative thoughts. 

 

I know you've had contact with a tdoc but it's kinda up in the air right now. Have you talked to your tdoc about this?

 

Some other things to do when you're anxious might be:

 

Petting a rock

Petting a cotton ball, or picking a cotton ball apart

Stroking your hair nicely, to show you care about yourself and do not want to hurt your body

Deep breathing (sounds kinda generic, but it really works!)

When you feel yourself start to search your scalp, immediately go talk to someone or go do something else, like watch a familiar TV show or grab your knitting

Cuddling a teddy bear

Taking a bath

Going for a walk

 

Those are just some things I can think of off the top of my head. But the pinned threads have a lot of good ideas. 

 

Let me know if you need more ideas, and I'll think of some. 

 

Mainly, I found that removing myself from my safe space, and interacting with other people really helped me quit SI'ing from anxiety. 

 

Oh, also, checking in here can help keep you accountable to yourself and others. You don't have to go it alone. :)

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I have a habit of pulling out the hair on my head to self soothe when I'm anxious or stressed or bored and also pick scabs on my scalp. I scratch too but only rarely compared with pulling. It differs from SI (when I do it) in that I'm not really conscious of it at the time and isn't done with the intention to hurt myself (it doesn't cause any pain). I also don't have much control over it and will find myself pulling in public, which I hate

 

I get around it by doing my hair in tight-ish french braids so I can't pull it out without undoing them first and if that doesn't work then having something else to fidget with in my hands. Unraveling things and untangling things (like a messy ball of yarn) work best for me and if I'm at home and have time, then kneading dough or anything else that gets my hands covered in goo make me less likely to touch my head. Playing simple games on my phone is good too (fruit ninja or something?). Generally sorting out small things (picking through lentils or beans is awesome) is kind of satisfying and calming. I don't have one but something like a tangle toy or a fidget toy might work. Parapluie mentioned that you knit? That might work too.

 

If you have a tendency to go into a sort of trance when you're scratching (I do when I'm pulling) then it might help to set reminders on you phone. (It doesn't work for me because I tend to leave my phone where I can't hear it.  :wall: )

 

If my scalp is sore or itchy or I have a headache that's a huge trigger for me. A medicated or super gentle shampoo might be worth a try to help your scalp heal.

 

Tl;dr: If you're leaning more towards the dermatillomania/trichotillomania end of things then in my experience it really helps to keep your hands busy, especially if you're doing something soothing or distracting. Good luck! This sort of thing is really hard to stop doing (like breaking an addiction) but it is totally possible. And even though it's hard it's worth it to find a coping strategy that's not so hard on your scalp.

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You should read this: http://www.ocdla.com/blog/abcs-dermatillomania-compulsive-skin-picking-1373 and http://ocd.about.com/od/typesofocd/a/Skin_Picking.htm.

 

Also, I did a search on ocd scalp picking solutions and look what showed up: http://www.crazyboards.org/forums/index.php/topic/47599-healing-sores-from-scalp-picking/.

 

To me, and I am NOT a professional, this sounds a lot like OCD, from the reading I've done. I'm going to move this to the OCD area because I think you might get more assistance in that forum. If you don't want me to move it, let me know and I'll move it back.

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I pick my skin and sometimes I do it consousley and other times I dont even know i'm doing it. It is totaly a maladaptive copeing statagy for me.  My Tdoc and I are right now talking about how it functions for me (perfection, brining pain out, geting something concrete done, we have both concoured that it is almost like an adiction). But what helps me is to cover the potentioal area of pick such as puting a bandaid on it. Maybe you can wear a hat? I also try to keep my hands busy and when I am less then fully sucesfull in not picking I take care of the wounds by puting neosporin and a bandaid on it.  Keeping things as clean as possible is realy important.

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Thanks sylvan and Rowlena.

Right now I have a tight pony tail in and this may sound dumb but it somehow makes me feel like I shouldn't scratch because I may "ruin" my nice ponytail. Or maybe it's because I'm too lazy to redo the pony tail if I scratch or pick and the pony tail gets messed up. I don't know if this will last but I'll take what I can get.

Meanwhile to do some reading again.

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Thanks sylvan and Rowlena.

Right now I have a tight pony tail in and this may sound dumb but it somehow makes me feel like I shouldn't scratch because I may "ruin" my nice ponytail. Or maybe it's because I'm too lazy to redo the pony tail if I scratch or pick and the pony tail gets messed up. I don't know if this will last but I'll take what I can get.

Meanwhile to do some reading again.

 

I think that is a great stratagy to keep your hair in a pony tail! Is it long enouph to get elaborate braids? Like fish tail, french, side braid(I.e. Katniss Everdeen one of my heros), or that cool crown braid. Becuse of the time it takes to put into one of those might also help you to not  ruin it by picking. And if you cant do it yourself maybe someone can.

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Rowlena I wish I knew how to braid better because that is an excellent idea. I can do a normal braid though and will be trying that tomorrow.

Well my husband saw a sore or scratch or whatever on my head. He just about flipped. He kept wanting to know why I scratched it so hard. He said it was bleeding. Which I knew. I said a lot of the time I don't realize I'm even doing it.

I have that wedding that I'm in which is only like 2 weeks away I think. Maybe 3. Anyways, I'm going to be so upset and embarrassed if the hair stylist comments own the state of my scalp. I'm really just trying to stop and let it heal. So far I've had little success in doing so.

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It sounds like dermatillomania to me. Dermatillomania and trichotillomania are separate illnesses from OCD but it seems quite a few people with OCD also suffer from either of those disorders or their OCD mimics the symptoms of those disorders. I've had trouble with both picking at my skin and pulling out hairs in the past myself and my doctors have attributed it to my OCD. In the past I've read that both are sometimes considered to be on the OCD spectrum, but I don't think that's an official classification.

 

If it helps, there are miscellaneous medical conditions related to sores on the scalp that you could use to explain to hairdressers (or any other nosy people) if you're nervous - I know someone who has eczema on her scalp and she scratches it and it makes scabs everywhere and my mother has allergies which results in her skin and especially her scalp being very itchy and she can't help herself and she scratches it to the point that she has terrible sores. Psoriasis and things like having very oily or dry skin can result in sores and scabs on the scalp. You may feel okay about admitting its an OCD thing in public but personally I wouldn't and its sometimes helpful to have something to default to.

 

Good luck with everything.

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It sounds like dermatillomania to me. Dermatillomania and trichotillomania are separate illnesses from OCD but it seems quite a few people with OCD also suffer from either of those disorders or their OCD mimics the symptoms of those disorders. I've had trouble with both picking at my skin and pulling out hairs in the past myself and my doctors have attributed it to my OCD. In the past I've read that both are sometimes considered to be on the OCD spectrum, but I don't think that's an official classification.

 

If it helps, there are miscellaneous medical conditions related to sores on the scalp that you could use to explain to hairdressers (or any other nosy people) if you're nervous - I know someone who has eczema on her scalp and she scratches it and it makes scabs everywhere and my mother has allergies which results in her skin and especially her scalp being very itchy and she can't help herself and she scratches it to the point that she has terrible sores. Psoriasis and things like having very oily or dry skin can result in sores and scabs on the scalp. You may feel okay about admitting its an OCD thing in public but personally I wouldn't and its sometimes helpful to have something to default to.

 

Good luck with everything.

Thanks RF. I really appreciate it. I will keep those ideas in mind for when I get my hair done for the wedding. And yeah I don't want to admit OCD in front of everyone. Eep! I know some are comfortable with it but I am not.

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