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Hair Plucking & Skin Picking
(Trichotilomania & Dermatillomania)
|Questions about Skin Picking||
Questions about Hair Plucking
My 11-yr-old has recently started pulling out his hair. The first time, a few weeks ago, he created a bald spot about the size of a quarter. After we showed it to him in a mirror he seemed pretty committed to not doing it again. Then yesterday he did it again, enlarging the spot to a bit more than silver-dollar size. He says he's ''addicted'' to pulling. Apparently this is a not-uncommon disorder, called trichotillomania. I'd really appreciate recommendations for treatment. We live in the Lamorinda area but are willing to travel a bit to see someone good. A Kaiser person would be ideal, though that's not necessary. Also, if anyone who's been through this has any advice to offer or experiences to share, I'd be very grateful. Thanks, Worried mom
She now is through it, I suspect for life. But the statistics I've seen indicate that this kind of full recovery is not common. I think it's great that you found it early, and I urge you to find out everything you can and be very cautious about how you address the issue with your son until you get professional advice yourselves, you and your spouse. He is right; it is a kind of addiction, but there is not medicine or 'method' to stop pulling. The self control it takes is truly phenomenal. I offer you the comfort of knowing you are not alone, and hope you find ways of coping as parents, and ways to support your son, that are healing and beneficial for you all. best wishes, someone who's been there
First of all, I wanted to be sure you know about trich.org, the website of the Trichotillomania Learning Center. Lots of good info on there. They have a provider listing under ''Treatment and Resources'' of therapists who specialize in treating trich. My daughter has been seeing Wendy Ritchey in Walnut Creek since the beginning of this year, and has had some success. Just now her lashes are coming in thick again, though short. It does continue to be a struggle for her--harder at times than others, it comes & goes. Wendy works with children and adults, and has a workbook she uses with kids that has exercises that help identify triggers, feelings and substitutes. We've enjoyed working with her.
Just found your original post...we're in Lamorinda too. And my daughter started pulling at 11y.o. too. I think the middle school transition is very stressful for some kids... Please contact the moderator if you'd like my email address so we can communicate further. Christina
Hi BPN community, Anyone out there with Dermatillomania, a skin picking disorder. I would love to get in touch with someone that has a friend or family member that has a skin picking disorder. I have done a ton of research and testing and have tried many diet changes for my 6 year old but we are not having as much luck as we would like. Thank you very much, Wanting clear skin for my 6 year old
LONG VERSION: I have struggled with skin-picking (and other BFRBs or Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors) my whole life. Thanks in large part to TLC, the Trichotillomania Research Center, in recent years BFRB resources, awareness, and research have exponentially increased.
Check out TLC's website www.trich.org, for more info. They've got stuff for both individuals and families, kids and adults. If you become a member, you'll get a welcome packet with tons of info and you'll get quarterly newsletters. Also, this year their annual retreat is being held near Santa Cruz August 9-12. I've seen kids, families, and adults transformed by this retreat - if there's ANY way you can get your family there, you'll certainly come away with a lot more understanding and information.
One thing to keep in mind - as a skin-picker, sometimes I find I need to substitute the word ''skin'' for ''hair'' in the literature, not only at TLC but also elsewhere. There seem to be more resources for hair-pulling than other BFRBs like skin-picking, but believe me, as someone who does both, skin picking and hair pulling are very similar in some ways. So you might also want to look for resources for hair-pullers.
It's great that you're reaching out for support. And I think diet changes are probably a great direction even though there isn't (yet) scientific evidence. I've found they've been helpful but not a magic or complete solution. Good luck, and remember to be compassionate and kind to both yourself and your child.
For the past year or so, my 7 year old son has been picking at his fingernails (toenails sometimes, too) and peeling them off. They're down to little crescents that cover maybe 1/3 of his nail bed. If he accidentally hits his fingers on something, they'll sometimes bleed because they're so exposed. He seems to pick when he's nervous (i.e., waiting for his turn to play during a soccer game), but also when he's not (i.e., while we're reading in bed). So far, we've tried giving him fidget toys, bandaging up all his fingers, bribing him with toys, trying to keep the nails very smooth with a nailfile (so he can't get a piece to pull off) and teaching him to do deep breathing exercises to relax. We've had some limited success (a day or two) with some of these strategies, but then he's right back at it. He's definitely got perfectionist tendencies, and can be high-strung sometimes, but for the most part, he's a happy, normal kid, and there's nothing majorly stressful happening in the family. When I ask him why he does it, sometimes he'll say he's nervous about something like ''diving at the swimming pool during lessons'' - which he otherwise seems to enjoy and is good at. Therapy seems a little extreme at this point - doesn't it? I'd be very grateful for advice from anyone who has dealt with this before, or anything similar. . . getting anxious myself
Looking back, I can say that I was a pretty stressed out kid. I wonder if some kind of therapy may have helped me at that time. I think I can point to the key stressors for me now, but I can't imagine having been able to articulate them as a kid. I wouldn't rule it out as an option for your son.
Physical activity helps a lot--daily exercise lowers my stress and anxiety, and makes me less likely to pick. All of the other distractions you described work for a while (having acrylic nails for a few years worked really well for me as an adult), but ultimately they are superficial answers to a deeper problem.
I encourage you not to make a big deal out of the behavior itself--the bigger the fuss, the more the stress, the more likely he is to do it! Explore underlying issues if you can.
If it helps, I'm a pretty normal person generally. It's an annoying habit, and signals to me that something is stressing me out. It might help your son to look at it that way, too. Picker
I found information about compulsive nail biting on www.trich.org and at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nail_biting
It's called onychophagia, so you might try googling for that. Good luck! Anon
My daughter has begun to compulsively pick at --not bite-- the ends of her fingernails. I've tried to keep them very short and constantly trim them; however, this just exposes hangnails that she then picks at as well. It has gotten to the point that even if her nails are down to the nubbins, she will actually lift up the remaining nail. If she is in gymnastics, she will do her rolls, exercises, etc...then immediately start picking once her hands are unoccupied. To my dismay, I have now noticed she has started picking the nails on her feet! Has anyone dealt with this before? How can I dissuade her from continuing this? I know it is just a nervous habit, and she is doing it unconsiously, but it is driving me nuts. Tina
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nail_biting http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Biting-Your-Nails http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermatillomania http://www.homestead.com/westsuffolkpsych/SkinPicking.html http://www.ocdla.com/compulsiveskinpicking.htmlanything you can do to help lessen stress will help. i quit at 13 when my stepmother buffed my nails and they felt so wonderfully smooth, that every time i put them in my mouth, i felt that smoothness, and didn't bite. so they grew out, and look fine, but i still pick at the skin, the habit is still there, just less obvious. and coincidentally, that's when i started picking at skin... former biter, now a picker. sigh.
My daughter seems to have an obsession with picking at her face and fingernails. Whenever she gets a tiny little sore on her face, she picks and scratches at it until it bleeds. She does this when she is tired or bored, mostly when she is in bed. It happens night after night until the little sores become larger and infected. Lately she has been bleeding on her clothes every morning when I get her from her crib.
The last time this happened I put a bandaid on her face to protect the sore from scratching. The sore healed, but she had an allergic reaction to the bandaid and developed little bumps under where the bandaid had been. Now she is scratching at those bumps too, so she is up from one to three big sores on her face!
She also picks at her nails until she gets little hangnails and then cries until she gets a bandaid. Is this normal toddler behavior? She is almost three years old, and besides the usual bossiness and stubborness that comes with the age, is a very normal, bright, loving child. Everything I look up on the Internet suggests obessive-compulsive disorder or dermatillomania, which worries me immensely. Has anyone else had any experience with this type of behavior? Worried Mother
To be honest, my experience was to lube, bandaid and be sad for her self-soothing technique. Yes, I will probably have to take her to a dermatologist when she is a teenager to see what we can do about the mild scarring, and yes, I worry about the OCD symptom as well. But, I've learned I don't have a choice over either of those things, and do my best to stay calm about that, watch her, and teach her other more healthy self soothing techniques. Not sure if this post is helpful other than you are not alone. Try the small round bandaids! Good luck. Mom of a Picker Too
I didn't see your original post, but I caught the reply and wanted to add some additional info.
First, visit www.trich.org which is TLC, the Trichotillomania Learning Center. While TLC started with a focus on hair- pulling, in recent years it's become apparent that hair-pulling is only a subset of what are affectionately referred to as BFRB's: Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors. This includes hair- pulling, skin-picking, cheek-biting, nail-biting, hair- twirling, and other behaviors. (Note: don't be afraid to substitute ''skin-picking'' for ''hair-pulling'' in their literature. As someone who does both, I can attest to the fact that they're very similar. Also, call and ask to speak with Christina, who is very knowledgeable.)
Second, BFRBs are not the same as OCD. While there's not a ton of research yet, it's clear that at the very basic level, BFRBs don't respond to OCD medications effectively (for most people). BFRBs are their own thing - related to but not the same as: OCD, impulse control disoredrs (like Touretteb
s), body dismorphic disorder, addicitions.
Third, be compassionate with yourselves and your children. It's extremely difficult to see a child, or any loved one, suffering from this. It's hard for the child too, so remember that if they could stop, they would. This may be a life-long journey for your young one and you can't fight the battle for them.
Fourth, unfortunately many professionals (doctors, therapists, dermatologists, etc) will not know how to handle hair-pulling and skin-picking. Just because they've got a degree doesn't mean they know anything about this. TLC may be able to help you find someone who *is* familiar with the disorder. But you and your child should prepared for dermatologists to say ''just stop'' and for therapists/psychiatrists to offer medications or treatments that will not help.
There are a lot of parents' resources out there for those with BFRB's. I would start with TLC - if you join for $45 (or less if it's a financial hardship for you) they can give you a list of local resources in your area. Also, this August their annual retreat is in Santa Cruz, which you may want to attend with your child, if that's the kind of thing your family would do.
Hope this was helpful. Good luck, and take care! An Adult Skin-Picker
HELP!!!! My 11 yo son has been poking himself at school. He has other anxiety issues and now we are having him tested for a possible learning disorder. I've noticed that his sores never heal....he keeps picking, but today his teacher called and said that there was an ''incident'' in class (5th grade) and one of the kids freaked that he was poking himself with a pencil. My son was humiliated and was given permission to leave the room to chill,which he did.
The teacher explained to the class that this was a nervous habit and that he doesn't really realize he's doing it so it's best for the kids to not freak out but to be kind and bring it to his attention.
He's well liked and has lots of friends so it's not like he's an outcast, but still this is very disturbing to me. He has a therapist, dr, etc./.....so I dont' need medical/therapy recommendations. I want to hear from other parents who's kids have had this issue. Thanks in advance....OY!!! What else???? concerned mom
My 1st grade son has developed the habit of biting and tearing off the skin on his finger tips and around he nail. So far he hasn't drawn any blood and doesn't bite his nails but rips the skin enough to leave pink ''craters'' on most of his fingertips (starting to look like he stuck his fingers in a meat grinder) When asked why he does it he insists it's ''because it tastes good''- he also eats the skin he peels(tasty, I know) This almost always occurs at school so I'm sure it's related to his stress and anxiety. However, he sometimes does it while relaxing if there's a particuarly good piece to chew at. He has never been very happy at school in general so I'm sure that's really what is at the root of this problem. He likes his teacher and in most areas he is doing ok academically, but he has just never liked school. He is strong-willed and I think he just doesn't like the idea of being told how and when to do work. Otherwise he is healthy,happy and hasn't experienced any changes at home. I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to redirect this nervous energy and possibly satisfy his urge to figet and chew as it seems to be getting worse. Or is this a problem that needs to be dealt with on a larger scale? So far we've tried rewarding him for not chewing but it seems to be so automatic at school that he doesn't realize he's doing it. Concerned mother of a finger mangeler
I wish I had a magic trick to make it stop, but the truth is I still do it when I am stressed, and sometimes when I am not stressed particularly but ''trapped''--in a meeting, in traffic, etc. Getting my fingers to heal entirely and keeping lotion on my hands seems to help me from starting up in the first place. Playing with rubber bands seems to help, too.
I did learn as an adult that my brother does the same thing--all through our childhoods and adult lives and we never knew until our spouses were complaining about our odd habits to each other! A trick my brother uses is to shred a Pinky eraser while he works--it harmlessly occupies his hands in the same sort of way. You may have to talk to teachers about approving rubber bands or eraser-shredding, but I'm sure they would understand. My neice asks her teachers to allow her to draw in class. They do, and she gets great grades. If they didn't, she would probably be a picker, too! Good Luck
My 3 1/2 old started with a tiny scratch on the bridge of her nose about two months ago, and has picked at it so much that it is now an open sore 1/4'' in diameter. As soon as a scab forms, she picks it until it bleeds. We have tried everything we can think of to deter her, but nothing has worked so far: Explaining that she makes it worse, that it could become infected; keeping a bandaid on it (she removes it when we're not looking & picks); rewarding her for NOT picking a whole day; disapproval & punishments when she does... These have worked short-term but she always goes back to picking it again. Help!
My 7-year old daughter recently started pulling all her eyebrows. She became self-conscious after a friend said that she had a uni-brow. We initially thought it was an isolated incident, but she is starting to pull out the hair that are growing back. Any advice and/or recommendation for a professional who specializes in trichotilllomania would be appreciated. We've tried some supportive discussions and behavior modification techniques, but they don't seem to help. concerned mom
You can get it over the counter at places like GNC (called ''NAC 600'') -- and I think that is doesn't have much at all in the way of side effects to worry about. You should do you own research on it, but given the seemingly low risk, if you can get your daughter to swallow two capsules a day and it takes the edge off this for her -- I would wholeheartedly endorse it. I know it can be debilitating emotionally for people and I would hate to see it cause unnecessary angst for your daughter. I was super skeptical of it working myself -- having tried many other approaches, but have found it to be something of magic bullet (at least for me). Best of luck! Worth a try
I can't recommend strongly enough that you check out www.trich.org for the Trichotillomania Learning Center. They're the only organization in the world dedicated to folks struggling with these disorders, and they've led the charge making great strides in recent years to create resources and work towards a cure.
The TLC website has lots of resources. If you are able to join, they'll send you hard copies of even more info, including a list of local providers (which is something you specifically requested in your post).
TLC is based in Santa Cruz. They host an annual conference and retreat, held in a various US locations. The retreat is happening this summer on the east coast, next year's conference is expected to be in SF.
If you have the resources for you and your daughter to attend the retreat, I can't recommend it highly enough. It's for both adults and kids, and there are lots of parents there with their children. The kids have a really great time, getting to be with other children who have similar struggles and where the pressure is off and they don't need to hide. It has the potential to be a life-changing experience, and you'll come home with loads of information and perspective.
Take care, and remember that it's possible your daughter really can't stop herself from pulling - if she could stop she would stop, so be gentle with her, and with yourself, since it's no one's fault. Good luck! Rahel
Can anybody give me some advice on hair pulling, I have a 3 year old who's been pulling hair for the last year, and it's getting real bad. I have started to hold his hands and tell him no and to stop because it hurts. and i also have swatted him on the side of his leg, but I think it hurts me more than it does him. He attends pre school ans pulls hair 3 to 4 times a day everyday! help
THe parents stopped pleading and giving any attention to the hair pulling, except to remind the child to go into the bathroom. The point being that the hair pulling was getting so much attention for the child, that why should she stop pulling...even negative attention is acceptable when you really want attention. If you thnk this might help you, you'd have to ask the teachers at your son's school to help you out on this...same thing, if he wants to pull his hair at pre-school he has to go into the bathroom, or into a particular corner or part of the room, alone to do it. Good luck. anon
A 4year old girl in our family plucks her hair out and eats it. She has never had a haircut but is completly bald. There is more to her behavior than just pulling her hair out but I will not get into it. It seems to me that this behavior needs some attention. Does anyone have anything to say about it? Please help. worried relative
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