EDIT 4/25/13 – The actual name is dermatillomania, but I didn’t know that at the time this comic was created.
That’s what my therapist told me too… If you find something that works, let me know!
When it’s skin picking, it’s Dermatillomania. I have it too. My shoulders are now nothing but scar tissue.
I have the same problem, just on my arms. I haven’t found a way to stop yet either.
So that’s what it’s called! I’ve done the same thing as long as I can remember having acne of any kind. It looks awful, but it helps everything focus. I never wore tank tops as a teenager because I was so ashamed of the way my skin looked. It actually helps to know that others struggle with it.
I felt so identified with this… after stressing moments in my life, I’ve sucumbed to this mania a couple of times. And two times I’ve conquered it (One of them not to long ago), by sheer will power and mentalization. Even meditation, drawing and excersise! It’s nice to know we maniacs-something are not alone. I welcome you (or anybody reading this) to contact me, share experience and advice. It’s possible to stop THIS MADNESS :) By the way, I’m going throug your archives and loving it all!
I thought I was the only person that did this!! It’s crazy. I can’t help it, but it feels so good to totally zone out and pick. I’ve tried to stop. I’ve put post-its on the mirror and made bets with myself, tried just saying no. Still nothing. But it helps to know I’m not the only one who suffers from it.
I’ve got it with my hair, have recently been absorbed in it for a couple days. I asked someone to watch out for me, but have just started avoiding that person so they don’t know I’m doing it. sebfiuehguire trichtotrillos unite! in desperation.
I went through a phase of this last year however my irritant of choice is my scalp!
Have you tried spraying your face with a mist of cool water then smoothing/patting your face dry? I found the change in temperature good for that feeling :)
Ah, this is me too – except I haven’t been to a therapist, and my adolescence was not too bad – family-wise. I don’t know the reaspon behind it, but now, after 8-9 years, I have no chance of stopping. Thank you for sharing!
i do the same thing, hair wise. i’ve been doing it for years. It totallys blows, I have no idea how to stop and it’s completely impulsive. Right now i’m writing myself notes.
Sort of weirdly good to know that it isn’t just my own brand of strangeness. Yeah, it’s the worst knowing that what you’re doing to “solve” the problem of bad skin is really only making it worse, but it’s just SO satisfying. And it’s totally gross, but squeezing the big pimples where the goo just comes shooting out… oh it’s so good, even if the obvious sexual analogy makes it just that much more disturbing.
The thing is, ever since I finished my thesis I’ve been much less obsessive about it. I mean, I still do it sometimes, but there’s no longer any real compulsion. So my advice to sufferers, trite as it is, is to stress out less, and reduce the things in your life that make you crazy-hurt-yourself-hectic. Really it seems to work for all of these OCDish tics
I do this too! My moments in front of the mirror destroying my face (or unconsciously scratching at it when I study) are such a source of release. No one gets why I do it.
However, I have found three things that help:
-Removing mirrors (it’s so much less tempting to squeeze that “last” blackhead, you know?)
-Keeping really, really busy. I knit now whenever my fingers wander, and I’ve also just cut out any mirror/makeup routine in the morning.
-Starting to take the Pill, and starting CBT (I did these things at the same time so it’s hard to tell which is most helpful). My skin isn’t bad intrinsically– it’s just that I cultivate the pimples when I pick at it– but the Pill really helped even it out. Now it looks and feels so good I don’t even WANT to touch it. Also the CBT helps with the control/fidget/anxiety issues (which is why I pick, personally).
Just my two cents!
Wow I thought I was the only one! I don’t get many zits, but when I was little I got sunburns all the time and scratched at my nose… Now I haven’t gotten a sunburn in years but whenever I’m nervous I scratch my nose, sometimes until it bleeds.
I have a similar problem, which i’ve done all my life. i used to call it “tickling my nose”. i constantly touch my face, spastically rubbing around my nose and cheeks. i do it without even realizing it and if i try not to let myself, i feel like i am going to explode. i also bite my fingers-not just my nails, but my knuckles and skin on my hands. my sister has the same problem as someone else with picking at her hair. i wonder if either would fall into a similar catergory…wow, i’ve never felt any more normal about this before…
I was so happy to read this comic, and all these comments. I used to pick at the bottoms of my feet so bad I could barely walk. I also pick my face and cuticles and scalp. I still struggle with the picking, but with anti-depressants at least I don’t do it till I am in pain.
ps I also recommend knitting. I stopped biting my nails by giving myself regular manicures and filing them and things. I’m still focusing my anxiety on my nails, but at least I’m getting pretty hands instead of hangnails out of it!
I’ve had some mild success defeating this by wearing coverup. When you pick the makeup gets under your nails and that bothers me. So I don’t pick when I wear coverup. It also means that the scaring is covered at least until your face clears up and hopefully by then you can control the compulsion. Good Luck!
I pick at my nails, and people are always telling me to stop, but it relaxes me and helps me think, plus I never have to pay for manicures or know where nail clippers are. There are worse compulsions. Everyone’s got something crazy going on in their heads.
I have an almost mirrored experience (except the therapist). I also knew a girl in junior high who would pull out all her eyebrow hair, especially when she was stressed, like during a test.
I agree-the coverup works- I don’t want to ruin my ‘mask’, so I tend to not touch my face as much. Nails/cuticles are screwed still tho, even that ‘stop bite’ liquid you can get doesn’t stop me- I bite till they bleed sometimes><
I have bad skin too, but I pick cuz I just can’t stand white heads. THEY’RE ICKY! and it’s so satisfying when they pop and shoot stuff out onto the mirror ^_^
I do the skin pinchy thing. Anywhere I can find something that looks like a pimple. I just don’t get them on my face or I would pop them there too. My arms and torso are covered with little pinching scars. I do it at work, at home, in the car. It really pisses off my wife while we are at a stop light and I am pinching something on my arm, then the light changes and I am still sitting there trying to pop something. I have started popping stuff on my wife now too. She doesn’t mind too much, as long as its something that is definately poppable.
Thank god there’s a name for it….I thought it was dermatillomania…
But I do the same thing for the same reasons. I want to stop so badly….there are days I do better than others, but when the stress induced anxiety hits…
I do the same thing as Tank….I put on foundation and concealer and *don’t touch!*
I am so glad I am not the sole sufferer of this damned habit.
Pickers UNITE!!! I’ve had the same compulsive behavior since I first began getting acne. Unfortunately, I get acne in almost every conceivable place possible on my body and I have a very hard time not poppin’ the damn things. I find that if I don’t look for them or if I don’t know they’re there I don’t have such an intense urge to pick. Right now I’m on acne medication and I’m using body and face wash made specifically for pimples, which helps but I still have a lot of scar tissue all over my body and sudden outbreaks just set me back to picking. I’m really glad you made this comic, it makes me feel a little less ashamed that it’s a real problem with other people too. Thank you.
I have the same compulsive behavior that makes me look strange and self conscious… which makes me do it more… And it drives me crazy. But its not impossible to stop~
…Wow. I’ve never heard about anyone having this same…compulsion as me! Until now. The more stressed I get, the more I pick. It’s like my mind finally quiets and calms for the duration of the picking. I pick at my back and face mostly…I’m scarred and I hate the way I look but I’ve yet to find something to replace the picking-serenity. *Sighs*
I used to do it without noticing it. It just became automatic if I had to touch my face for any reason, and felt a zit. I still have this tendency today, but it doesn’t seem to be as bad as it was in the past. I guess I learned that fighting it just made it far worse.
Gods, I do the same thing. I have a handy Tourette’s diagnosis from my childhood to hide behind, but even as I type this, I’m 27, at work, and bleeding from my arm. ><
There’s a modestly amusing book called “Crust” about a religion founded on nose picking that describes the same sensation of empty-mindedness that attends on gross and inappropriate personal hygiene.
I’ve got the hair and skin varieties… thank you for being so open about it.
Going through puberty and finding out I do this was pretty hard, with conservative parents convinced that I didnt have enough will power. felt so alone until i found out there were others struggling with the same thing.
keeping busy works pretty well, but episodes still sneak up sometime
Thank you so much for sharing this comic.
I have been picking at my skin (all over, wherever there is a blemish…be it a pimple, a scar, a scab, a hive (I get allergies in the Fall and Spring)…anything) since I was about 12 years old. My formal diagnoses are OCD and Anxiety Disorder. I’ve been on meds on and off since 6th grade. The picking gets much worse when I’m stressed, but it never really goes away entirely. It’s worst at the moment on my face, neck, chest and back. Meditation does help sometimes, when I have time to do it.
Knowing that I’m not the only one kind of helps tip me into that zen pick-mode state. So thank you so much for sharing!!
I’m so glad that I’m not the only one because I’m the only one out of a large group of friends that refuses to wear tank tops! Thought I was the only one in the world…
I’m hoping most of it will clear up since I have a motive! Next year, I will have to find a prom dress because I’d love to go to prom and finally wear a dress! And so I keep thinking of myself in a dress whenever I have urges it eventually gets away and I’m distracted!
No idea if this’ll work yet since it’s already been half a year and it still looks pretty bad…
Oh my god, I do the same thing. It was worse when I was younger, and for some reason the drugs I’m taking for Bi-polar help, but not completely.
My face isn’t the bad part. My breasts… they’re horribly scarred. All over. Meh.
God, I know this comic is like 2 years old, but I just feel I have to comment!
Yikes, I didn’t know other people did this tooooo!
I have to be very aware of myself when I look at myself in the mirror or else I’ll go into a face picking, squeezing, scratching trance! I almost don’t remember what I was doing when I back up from the mirror, my face all puffy and red. But it’s not just my face, my chest and back too.
Gawd, I just wish I could be pretty and clear-skinned like other girls TTnTT
It’s good to know that I’m not alone and other people do it too, but I honestly didn’t know it was linked to so many disorders and things. Perhaps I should be talking to my doctor about it.
Ah, I have that. I pull my eyebrow and pubic hairs out. it’s nuuuts. I know exactly what you mean by shutting off your consciousness and having release. definitely.
Same thing for me… except I hair pull, too.
i’m trying to replace compulsive face-pinching with compulsive face-washing! With acne face wash suff! It’s kinda working!!
I’m not alone… ;_______;
I do something like this, it’s more to do with my hands though…I don’t pick at my face, I pinch/scratch/pick/claw at my fingers, hands, wrists and arms. I also sometimes can’t breathe, it feels like I’m wearing a too-tight corset and even if I take huge gulping breaths I’m not getting enough air…Doc says it’s related to my anxiety/depression problem, but medication does NOT help at all…
I feel a bit better knowing that other people deal with this too. >3
I have trichotillomania and pull out my hair.
But I also CAN NOT ignore zits or scabs. Just can not not not not do it.
so totally feel you
Wow, I’ve never really heard of someone else doing this! It’s actually slightly reassuring. As you were describing the complete shut down/release of consciousness, I realized that was exactly the feeling I have. Thanks for sharing this side of yourself. It’s easier to deal with something when you know you’re not alone.
i used to have this problem too. it stopped when i got some prescription topical acne meds- now every tiny spot is disinfected and dried up before i can attack it. and if i do go crazy on my face, they clear it up really quickly!
So many other people have it… whoaaaaaaaaa…
I have it too.. I pick my everywhere, including those bumps on my boobies..
Wow, it’s good to finally know what it is… I always thought I had eczema, but this makes so much more sense, because I feel so numb and thoughtless when I’m picking and it seems I’m no longer allergic and it isn’t any logical reason other than anxiety that gets me to scratch myself and pick my wounds..
Though because the doctor said it was eczema and my family never says antyhing unnecessary about it, I’ve already come to accept the fact I have a skin condition.. I don’t really feel like changing myself that much either..
I mean, with me it´s my arms and legs and neck, so whenever I feel conscious about it I simply cover it up with clothes, scarfs or accesories.. When you stop trying to change yourself as much you feel so much better about yourself.. I think you can direct where you scratch or pick when you realize that you are, but I think you don´t have to feel ashamed you have it.. Just because someone else thinks it´s strange doesn´t mean that you´re the one that´s weird. I bet they have strange tics themselves ;)
I love the fact of knowing I’m not alone with this so THANK YOU ALL!!!!
hugs and kisses everyone, you’re totally fine as you are
wow this is one big-ass-comment (a)
i have trichotillomania also…
i have no eyelashes and im lucky it hasn’t spread to my long and glorious hair….
oh, yeah. i pop zits, pick scabs, and pick my nose.
I understand completely, the trick I found is to get really really drunk, and smoke alot of cigarettes, otherwise go apeshit crazy!
Not that i don’t feel for those people with picking compulsions and hate it, but personally i just don’t try to stop myself. The injuries are superficial, and i don’t have any pressing need to maintain my beauty.
I have tried a product line that made my skin look pretty. It was from the company innovita (can be googled). I got it from a naturopath/nutritionist in Venice Beach California, named Skip Shoden. frikin expensive nutrition program, but it worked…something about detoxing the body. zits are toxins gettin pushed out…dunno
I always thought I was the only person who did this..I do blemish squeezing on my arms and legs and anywhere else the bumps appear. I want to know what THOSE are, because they’ve been cropping up ever since I was a kid, and I’ve been picking them since I was a kid. They’re not acne or zits…it’s something else. I just can’t STAND knowing those bumps are there, my skin almost tingles and I feel weird when I haven’t picked in a while, and if I spot a bump that is even remotely noticeable, let alone a larger sized one, my skin instantly feels like it’s crawling and I just can’t STAND IT UNTIL IT’S GONE. Same with scabs…I have so many scars that started out as small wounds, and ended up much larger because I kept trying to remove the scab over and over, even when it’s turned into a pit in my skin, even though I know the scab is supposed to help it heal.
To know there’s a name for this sort of thing, and that so many other people are affected by it…It’s a relief, in a way. Even though it doesn’t help my anxiety about it and need to wear long sleeves and pants every day of the year. >_<
What’s sad is, I’m actually really kind of ashamed to show my shoulders and back now because of all the scars. My mom still thinks I just have adult acne and she doesn’t listen to me when I tell her it’s because I pick. She just answers, “Well, don’t.”
Wow I did not realize I was not the only one who did this. I’ve read all of the responses, and it feels good to not be alone.
Apple vinegar. Stings like a bitch but it works. Also good for clearing nostrils.
My first thought was “Oh my gosh!” followed with “her too?!? Dermatil?” (my pet name for it. Don’t like the ‘mania’ bit). I was even told about the rubber band thing too. Only things that have helped mine: meds, reducing stress, shame, focusing on something else obsessively (like cross hatching gradients), getting rid of my tools or using crappier ones (I have to wait to ‘get it better’ with less precision) and love from my partner. We aren’t alone. It won’t always be like this either. Take care.
Reading some of the comments now…
I knit too. And I went on the pill for the reduced acne effect. Less stuff to pick. But then I went after my toe nails, but almost needing surgery on those and seeing the ‘after’ look helped that stop. I never thought I’d want to pick someone else… but now I have a hard time with my partner since I don’t want ‘them’ to bother him. And he’d rather let me do it to him then to myself. I’m just too ashamed to most often. But a massive one he can’t get? Total weakness to ‘help’, though it’s never just one. Bumps on the boobs? Yep. Massively worse now after years of messing with them? Yep. Thought about getting pierced just to try and hide them/ cover the cause? Yep. Never wear shorts or a skirt because of scars? Yep. When it got to the point where I was turning down some oral because of the fear and shame of those marks, I new I had to change to something else. Hiding the tools, not seeing them, not getting those lull moments of stressed limbo helps too.
OMG I thought I was the only one!
I have the same condition. I’ve had it since I was 12, except my arms are the main area of choice (though I’ve been known to revert to face when I’ve massacred my arms). I’ve got so many scars from it, and I haven’t found a solution for it yet. I’ve been through all kids of similar compulsions: Chewing nails, tapping my collarbone (sometimes so hard in fact I’d leave bruises) and emotional eating. I’ve so far conquered the tapping of my collarbone and chewing of fingernails, so I do believe there is a solution to it, but I doubt it’s the same for everyone.
Moonie – what’s on your arms is likely keratosis pilaris – the hair follicles harden, and don’t shed skin cells like they should, so little bumps form. I’ve got it too, and I can’t leave them alone either. It’s so stressful to know that there’s something *in my skin* that shouldn’t be there, and so relieving to know that a simple squeeze can *get it out*.
It’s almost a weird hygiene thing, really – it’s like, I know that squeezing leaves terrible red, often bloody marks that then scab over. But just washing doesn’t *remove* the bumps, and if you had, let’s say, spaghetti sauce on your face, you wouldn’t just leave it alone, right? You’d remove it. It’s the same sort of thing with a nasty bump, or a juicy zit.
In fact, I often wonder if most of my facial ‘acne’ problem isn’t actually keratosis pilaris. I’ve gone on meds and creams and washes, and it’s helped enormously with the zits I used to get on and around my nose, but the stuff on my chin is still there, and I can’t leave it alone. And it doesn’t do squat for the KP on my arms, legs, torso – everywhere else. I get them on my hips and waist too, and when I squeeze the plug out, there’s often a teeny, skinny little crumpled hair that was obviously trapped in there.
I just wish that someone would find a cure for KP – the skin cells obviously aren’t shedding properly. If that could be fixed – there wouldn’t be anything to pick.
This comic describes me exactly. Fucking exactly.
I have that too. I’ve had it since I was in grade school. My face, shoulders, chest and knees are nothing but scar tissue. I hate it. I’m afraid people wont like me, or be ashamed to be seen with me because of it.
My girlfriend has trich – it’s difficult but I try my best to support her :)
I’m glad you don’t feel as alone anymore.
Thank you so much for this.
If not for this, I would have never known that my desire to pull strands of hair is called trochotrillomania….
I do that too…
OMG, I’ve never met anyone else who does this, and I’ve been at it since I was 12 /13. I only brought it up in therapy a few years ago because my wedding was looming and I didn’t want my pictures to be horrific. it was SUCH a relief to know I wasn’t the only one.)
(We met this past weekend at NEWW, and I was just getting caught up on your work. I was the woman who was out of cash and couldn’t pay for the squid picture. You felt guilty and it was really cute, and totally ok.)
I seem to pick at my neck/head joining area and along my collar bone, pretty much whenever I don’t have something occupying my mind/hands.. its kind of bothersome and makes my chest look like it has a rash. Its pretty hard to quit doing it..
I’ve been pulling out my eyelashes compulsively since grade 7 whenever i’m anxious (which is a lot!) But I’ve always managed to hide it well
Recently one of my friends learned about trichotrillomania in her psych class and she brings it up sometimes and then all my friends talk about how messed up they thinks anyone is to pull out their eyelashes.
It hurts because I’ve never told them I do it, and now I know I can’t.
Thanks for posting this comic, it means a lot to know I’m not the only one struggling
Thank you thank you thank you. I pick at my scalp and peel the skin off almost constantly for an hour or two at night, and intermittently throughout the day. It gives me really bad dandruff and horrid scabs and scars all over my head, that hurt like a motherfucker when I shower, but its so calming and NECESSARY. Augh I didn’t realize other people understood this compulsion
I pick at my lips and my eyelashes. I’m allergic to makeup because it makes my eyes itch and therefore more pick-able but I wear it because otherwise my eyes look weird with patchy eyelashes. Also it always looks like I’ve been punched in the mouth. :(
I wish I could get over this… I’ve gone cold turkey for months at a time, and never lost the need to do it. And then I’m stressed and willpower slips… sigh.