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Montague

I can't stop obsessing over my fingernails

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I am on day 2 of freaking out about my nails. Backstory: Ever since I can remember, I have obsessed over my fingernails. I traded one obsession for another. Awful nail biting turned into polishing and then picking it off every other day. Then I began clipping the skin around my nails obsessively. I've done this for ~ 15 years. I also had nail enhancements (acrylics, gel manicures, press-ons, etc.) constantly.  I have over 120 bottles of nail polish and a tub of enhancement tools to do acrylics and such.

My husband finally demanded I get help. I constantly bite the skin around the nails, pick at it, or am touching/tapping/clicking my fingernails constantly. It is a nervous tick I never realized had gotten out of control. My husband took my cuticle nipper tool away and told me to bring this up to my psychiatrist. Since he made me aware of this, I have started realizing how often I mess with my nails. It is nearly constantly and habitual.  (I counted my fingers in my mouth about 4 times in an hour, and that is just what I became aware of.)

Currently, my nails are all-natural. It is killing me. I normally have some sort of polish or other enhancement. My cuticle nipper is hidden. It is killing me. The only thing I AM allowed right now is cuticle oil to keep my very toughened skin moisturized. After years of clipping, it is pretty much calloused. I hate obsessing like this, but I figured this would be the place to vent this panic/obsession.

Any suggestions for me?

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I don't have any particular suggestions, unfortunately. My wife doesn't bite her nails (though I do) but bites the skin on the end of her fingers which gets worse with stress. She probably would address the problem more formally, but she's been "gifted" other issues that have taken priority it seems =>). Basically, and you may know more than me, but it really sounds like an addiction essentially. In addition to being an addiction, "skin picking" is (I believe and you proably know) in the OCD spectrum. Recently my wife did a cursory search on google for information on treatment and found nothing helpful. IME, I would think of it as an addiction (perhaps) and treat the underlying "chaos" (anxieties, other) that manifests as destroying your fingernails and skin. If you can identify an underlying pathology - it should be painfully obvious - I would address the "chaos" and the "picking" concomittantly. Conversely, I don't know if there are any other significant issues that feed the "habit"; in that case I would think the therapeautic premise would be at least somewhat similar, but could add a significant dimension I haven't accounted for. 

 

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I don't have OCD, but I have similar, nearly unconscious fingertip obsessing habits. My specific hang-up is keeping my nails smooth and not having hangnails. Since my skin is chronically dry, these are both issues.

My hands are fidgety, and I think it's because I'm an Aspie. I know a lot of other Aspies who have the same sort of hand-motion/obsession issues. I am not by any means implying that you're Autistic, but maybe getting something to play with, some kind of fidget, would help you like it's helped me. I use a lot of squeezy balls, and I love textured things to pet. There's a whole world of toy to busy your hands out there. Just google "fidgets."

https://funandfunction.com/calm-and-focus/fidgets.html

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I understand OCD issues like this pretty well.

The only way to beat things like this is a superior distraction.

Is there anything in your life that takes your attention away from your nails momentarily or for hours?  

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I don't have OCD, but I do have a bad habit of picking at any stray skin on my fingers. To the point I make them bleed, and break the skin.

 

Now that I say this out loud, it does not sound very healthy.

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