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Obsessive Scalp Picking

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Old 01-09-2007, 10:59 PM   #1
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Obsessive Scalp Picking

Hello all,

I have multiple obsessive compulsive behaviors, but one is definitely causing more harm than the others. I recently picked up a new obsession/compulsion...whatever it is categorized under... picking at my scalp. During the winter my scalp gets very dry (which I'm pretty sure is common for most), anyway, it gets pretty irritated and I get some dandruff here and there. The problem is this time it got really irritated and I got a few scabs. Of course I just had to pick at them....

Needless to say, the irritation went on for about a month, and another month later, I still can't seem to get myself to stop picking at my scalp. I am causing even more sores/scabs, and am making my hair fall out. I do most of it during my sleep...which is bad because I have trouble controlling it (I have unusual sleep patterns). I tried wearing gloves when I go to bed, but I pull them off in my sleep and pick my scalp anyway. My biggest concern is that I'm causing more and more sores...and my hair is falling out, plus I've got a couple lymph nodes that are swollen from my body fighting off the irritated scalp which is probably now becoming infected.

Does anyone have any ideas to help me get over this? Or ease it up a little at least?


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Old 01-10-2007, 06:38 AM   #2
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Re: Obsessive Scalp Picking

Hi Versailles, I normally post on the bipolar board but I happened to see the topic of your post and I had to reply! I also pick at my scalp. Luckily, I do not have the problem of picking in my sleep. I do it when I'm bored and alone and zoned out (like reading or watching tv etc). I get sores on my scalp too and it is uncomfortable. Also I pull a lot of hair out too and my hair is very thin to begin with!

What usually helps me is to shower at least once a day because that causes the dry scalp to be washed off (I think?). At least it seems if I don't shower for a day there is more and thus easier to mindlessly pick at.

I am sorry that the glove trick didn't work. That was a good idea though. Maybe you should also talk to your doc about this one.

Old 01-10-2007, 09:19 AM   #3
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Re: Obsessive Scalp Picking

Thanks for the response. I feel a little better knowing I'm not the only one with this problem. Ya, I pick at it when I'm bored and alone too, but I think I do the most of it at night.

I think I probably will see if my doctor can help me break this one.

Thanks again,

Old 01-10-2007, 11:04 AM   #4
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Re: Obsessive Scalp Picking

I have started to do this, and have done it once before. But I don't think it's a result of OCD. I scratched it once, and once you've done it once you go back to it and once it starts itching it's difficult to stop. Last time I just made myself stop scratching it, even though it was very hard to do so. This time around, I am doing it in my sleep as well! So, one night I tried wearing a hat to bed (sounds funny doesn't it?) but I pulled it off in my sleep and went on scratching. I thought about wearing gloves but I didn't want the skin on my hands to dry out. Anyway, I don't scratch my scalp in the day, only at night and I'm hoping that the problem will just go away. I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow about another matter but I'll ask him about it then and I will, if I am feeling terribly generous, post his suggestions on this very board for the benefit of everybody else. By the way I can't believe I've found someone who does the same thing. It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one!

Old 01-10-2007, 07:40 PM   #5
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Re: Obsessive Scalp Picking

I too was helped by daily shampooing, which prevents the formation of things to pick at, and prevents itching too.
But I think my medication must be helping because I almost never do it anymore.
I tried a lot of medications before finding a combination that helped.

Old 01-11-2007, 03:02 PM   #6
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Re: Obsessive Scalp Picking

So I went to the doctor, as promised, and here is what he said. He said that I had dry skin on my scalp. He said that I could get a shampoo suitable for use on irritable or dry skin. He said that the dryness was quite mild. He thinks it will just go away, so do I. He did not recommend any medical treatment other than the shampoo, which isn't really a treatment, rather a palliative. Anyway, I suppose apart from tying your hands down when you are asleep there is nothing you can do to stop yourself from scratching in your sleep. Or maybe a really tightly bound headscarf. Now that might work.

Old 01-11-2007, 05:56 PM   #7
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Re: Obsessive Scalp Picking

I really hope you can overcome your compulsive skin picking. I, too, engage in compulsive skin picking, mostly on my scalp, but I don't want to stop, as strange as that sounds. It calms me for some reason. My mom always yells at me to stop, but I enjoy it, despite the pain.
"Not everything that steps out of line, and thus 'abnormal,' must necessarily be 'inferior.'"
-Hans Asperger

Old 01-11-2007, 06:51 PM   #8
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Re: Obsessive Scalp Picking

I pick the side of my head and it frustrates me. I do it when I'm driving, watching t.v. I think i read that someone else said they do it when zoned out- that's me too. It drives my family crazy. I had a good month a while back and it healed. I have since tore it back open again. I take celexa but isn't helping the OCD. My husband said he noticed that it gets worse depending on where I'm at in hormone cycle. I have payed attention to it in the last month and i think he may be right. Anyone else noticed a pattern to it? Thanks

Old 01-18-2007, 06:43 PM   #9
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Re: Obsessive Scalp Picking

I had this one for years...I purposfully tried to find a spot on my head that wouldn't be seen. I guess I am just comisserating. I have no advice. Mine did go away when I graduated to picking at something else (feet). anyway, I think the only thing that made me stop was working at getting rid of what was causing my stress. Sorry my response is not more upbeat.

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