What disorder is this and what is wrong with me?!


This kind of mutilation can happen a regular basis…

The above picture is of my right thumb. I did that massacre to myself and sometimes I don’t even know I’m doing it.. On a regular basis, pretty much all of my fingers and thumbs look like the above. I didn’t think my readers would have the stomach to see the other fingers on my hand. All of my fingers and even this thumb pictured, have been since cleaned and doused with neosporin and bandaged. It survived.

This is what happens.

I, unconsciously, pick and tear at my cuticles. I can do this in my sleep, or while I’m driving or just while I’m walking down the hall. My point is, I do it constantly and randomly.

Recently, after cleaning up a truly horrible massacre on my thumb, and 4 other fingers, I looked at them, all wrapped up in small band aids filled with neosporin and wrapped in white tape and I remembered someone else who wore white tape on the tips of his fingers and I would say, after a bit clean up, my hands look just like his.

Someone named Michael Jackson…michael_jackson_

Some say that he did it because of his Vitiligo disease.

Some say that he did it to draw attention to the movements of his hands while he was dancing and performing.

I think otherwise. As I look down at my fingers that I’ve since cleaned up from the above photo, and notice that they are very similar to his hands seen here, it makes me wonder.

Did Michael have this problem too? He seemed like the type of obsessive person to do something like this. Then again, I didn’t know him so I am making assumptions.

I have never really sat down and figured out what this problem was labeled as. So I went to the internet. I found disorders on obsessive fingernail biting. But that is not what this is. I don’t do this with my teeth. I do this with my nails. I pick and tear the skin around the nails (the cuticles) until there is lots of bleeding. I’ve sometimes bled on work documents and cursed whatever this “disorder” is.

Then, I found it.

Dermatillomania – Episodes of skin picking are often preceded or accompanied by tension, anxiety, or stress. The region most commonly picked is the face, but other frequent locations include the arms, legs, back, gums, lips, shoulders, scalp, stomach, chest, and extremities such as the fingernails, cuticles, and toenails.  Most patients with dermatillomania report having a primary area of the body that they focus their picking on, but they will often move to other areas of the body to allow their primary picking area to heal.

This was it. Yes, I do move onto different fingers when one or two or three fingers become to painful and are bleeding. After all, I have 8 fingers and 2 thumbs to choose from.

When I read this I realized, yes, as I’ve gotten older I have been known to pick at my face to. But not excessively since my face is much more visible, more so than my finger tips, which I can hide. I certainly don’t pick my face to bleeding.

But picking at my cuticles has been something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. As I have gotten older, its gotten worse.

At some points, it can be so bad that even dipping my hands in lukewarm water burns the raw areas around my nails. The only solution to ease the pain of the raw skin is neosporin, small bandaids and tape.  When its gets really bad at work and I’ve realized what I’ve done, I will raid the office medicine cabinet of small band aids and Antibiotic Ointment.

There is another solution to allow my skin to heal. I get fake nails put on. I can’t pick at them with fake nails because it doesn’t give me the same feeling as picking with my real nails. This leads me to believe it is a mental disorder.

When fake nails are put on, I forgo the picking and the cuticles heal. But the minute those fake nails come off, the bleeding is back with a vengeance. I could keep putting fake nails on but I’m not one to pay for something like that and keep going every two weeks to get them filled.

I’ve never thought myself to have any types of obsessive disorders. But I really wonder if this is even close to cutting?

The ironic thing is…I hate pain.


I know that some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others. I have no tolerance for pain. For instance, if someone who can tolerate pain said the pain is at about a 5…I would put that same amount of pain at a 20. I am a wimp.

Yet, when I do this to my fingers, as I mentioned about about the lukewarm water, the pain can be pretty bad and I continue to do this to myself!!

I guess I can tell myself it’s not as bad as cutting and my fingers don’t get so bad that they get infected (probably because I douse them in neosporin when they are to raw to pick at anymore) but still, it can be embarrassing when others see my hands and see how raw and red they are. I wonder what they must think of me.

I guess I should try and stop.

This was taken on my wedding day, October 2001. It was soon after this, that my fingers began to suffer.

This was taken on my wedding day, October 2001. It was soon after this, that my fingers began to suffer.


3 thoughts on “What disorder is this and what is wrong with me?!

  1. I do the same thing. But I peel my nails too. Even when I get fake nails, I pick a them. I think it is due to stress. But most of the time I don’t even know I’m doing it.

  2. Hi there. I don’t do it to the extent that you do, probably, but I do have OCD and definitely have SOME issues with skin-picking from time to time. I used to not know it was a disordered thing, so I just kinda went on doing it thinking it was normal, except it would really make my face raw and irritated sometimes. I grew up doing it. Now that I know it’s a thing I sometimes start doing it subconsciously for a minute, but once I realize I’m doing it then I stop. Anyway I wish you the best of luck. Everyone has different methods of therapy that work better for them, and I hope you have a good therapist to work with you on that. Just remember not to be too perfectionistic about it and just b/c you failed to stop once or twice or even three or more times doesn’t mean you should stop trying to get better. Failure just means you are trying!

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