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What can I do to stop picking at hangnails and scabs?

By October 27, 2008 - 9:50am
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Seems like all my life I've been unable to leave things alone on my skin to let them heal. It's almost a subconscious thing -- I might be watching TV and I catch myself picking at a hangnail, a pimple on my arm, maybe a little scab somewhere that I know I should leave alone, and it feels like I just can't.

I know I do it more when I'm stressed. And I know I do it more in the winter months, when my skin is dry. (But I hate the greasiness of lotion.)

I hear others talk about nail-biting in this same way, but I've never been a nailbiter. (Ironic, because if I was a nail-biter, I couldn't pick at my skin, LOL, I'd have no nails to do it!)

Has anyone had success actually breaking a nervous habit permanently?

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EmpowHER Guest

I catch myself doing the exact same things. Most times though it's other people who say something to me because I've become so used to doing it it's like I'm conpletley unfased. I don't know how to stop!

July 11, 2010 - 10:36pm
EmpowHER Guest

I do the same thing. Its like a "high" when I pick something off. Not sure if its the pain, or the resulting endorphins. Wish I could stop

April 11, 2010 - 8:00pm

Thank you, thank you. What an understanding post with such good advice.

Basically, you're talking about finding another outlet for the stress of the moment, which is a really healthy thing for me to do.

I'm going to try to stay conscious of when I'm picking at my skin and see if just taking a break and doing something else helps me stop.

(The concept that it's not goofing off will take me a while! Good to know that you're doing ok with that, LOL.)

October 28, 2008 - 9:40am
EmpowHER Guest

I've had recent success stopping the picking habit by recognizing why I'm picking. I realized, like you, that I scratch or pick at my skin when I'm in an "uncomfortable moment" -- anxious, indecisive, stressed, etc.

Now, instead of picking, I give myself permission to do *whatever* I want. If I find myself scratching at my skin while I'm working on something, I get up and take a break. Sometimes I clean (which I find relaxing). Sometimes I read a magazine or do one of my hobbies (music, drawing, etc.).

I think my picking derives from feeling like I always have to be "in line," on good behavior, plugging away at my to-do list. But what's life if that's all I'm doing?! Now I understand that I can take breaks, go at my own pace, even entertain diversions without falling behind, and that doing so doesn't mean I'm goofing off. I'm just living.

October 27, 2008 - 7:29pm
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