How to address "picking"?


Hi everyone!I’m wondering how/what to say to my son about picking at himself.Before meds,he was tearing up the inside of his nose(sorry-I know this isn’t pleasant to talk about).This has stopped until recently.He seems to only do this at night.When I’ve tried to discuss things with him,it seems to just drive him inward and he hides things from me more.I noticed bloody tissues in trash can.His nightstand has small pliers,paper clips,etc that I think he uses.I’m not even sure where he’s doing this to himself right now or why.My concern is that he already told me voices are still an issue.We increased Seroquel to 400mg+10mg of Abilify.He has been eating like crazy!Maybe it’s time to try something new?!


My son picks at his nose a lot and it gets worse when he is not stable. I think it becomes habit and he barely knows that he is doing it. I try to keep toilet paper on hand when he is like this and remind him to us it or at least do it in the bathroom :blush:

As for the small pliers etc. That sounds somewhat concerning especially if he is hearing voices. Maybe he has some tactile hallucinations happening? Do you know if he is picking at other parts of his body or just his nose?


@BarbieBF-He has picked at his ears before and any scrapes or bug bites.I can’t see anything or tell where he is doing this-it just seems like he is(which really concerns me).Unfortunately,I often read where people are doing things when they aren’t stable that are just a part of our daily life.I really question how stable/healthy he is right now.Seems like an increase in meds can make some things better and others worse.He is very secretive and ( I believe)paranoid about anyone knowing anything about his thoughts or what he does.I’m really trying to determine what is going on and if I need to call pdoc about med changes.


Sometimes people who use drugs like crystal meth do things like this. Part of what is called tweaking. Almost like an OCD need to pick at things like pimples etc. Hard to control. Sorry not saying that is what is happening with your son just throwing out some thoughts.

Bringing it up to his pdoc certainly wouldn’t hurt.


@BarbieBF-I may have to deal with drug issues in the future,but right now he is a 12-yr old that never wants to leave the house.I read that some schizophrenics have this issue,but I’m not sure why.I haven’t talked to pdoc recently,but she didn’t seem surprised that he is doing this.Picking is one thing,but getting tools out to use and hiding what’s going on scares me!


I’ve been picking at places for about 50 years. Often I start them. I have several sites now. I go from one for a while to another. I don’t bleed a lot + I figure it’s been harmless for me up until now. It is a habit. I know because I stopped once, but don’t know how. I got really mad when my parents said something about it - I figured it was my business. I choose places where they aren’t easily seen now.


Hi ~~~
My son also did this on occasion. He would tell me his skin was itching. For him, it was kind of an ocd thing. I think sometimes he also did it to " feel something ". At times, he just felt numb.
In regard to any tools being used----I would report this to his doctor…and hide anything like that from him. He could very well hurt himself.
My son has done some strange things things to himself over the years. Things I will not post here-but a few times I had to take him to the ER. There is no satisfying explanation for any of it.
I dont think you have to be scared, just put away anything that you feel may hurt him. I dont think C. ever had tactile problems–but who knows? He was also very secretive.
Hope this helps…


@pob-he does get mad at me because he thinks it’s none of my business!I guess the picking doesn’t bother me as much as the tools and his secrecy.He has hurt himself and not said anything to me.


Abilify made me constantly brush my hair off my forehead with my hand. I couldn’t stop even when I wanted too. In fact I didn’t even realize I was doing it until a counselor at an employment agency pointed it out to me. I was doing it 5 or 6 times a minute. My doctor took me off of the abilify and I stopped doing it almost immediately.


Maybe it’s a restlessness inside him from the meds or something. You could ask him if he’s having any side effects from his meds and see what he says. Maybe he’s not on the right meds yet.


Thanks @bridgecomet!It is difficult trying to keep someone safe when you don’t really understand what is going on in their heads.My son told me once that he feels like hurting himself is a way to get the voices to stop telling him to hurt others.I hope someday we will be able to communicate better so he can get more help if he needs it.


There is something that Nick wrote that rings true for me as well. When I was on Abilify, I found it to be a very stimulating medication. I sometimes walked around with my arms folded, holding them tight - close to my body.
For me Abilify was a destabilizing medication for sure - it caused a lot of inner restlessness (Akathisia) and anxiety.
Maybe you should review, go over his medications with the doctor - these meds can cause all kinds of side effects - reactions


I completely agree with @77nick77,@joanne and @wave!Honestly,I don’t know how you all deal with the meds.It seems hard to know what’s sz and what’s a med issue.Abilify does seem to cause a lot of restlessness and shakiness.It helped tremendously with his irritability,but I’m not sure about all the side effects.The Seroquel has really stabilized him,but he has been eating constantly.My son says that none of the meds help!I hate the idea of switching things up because you never know what will happen.Right now,I’m just trying to keep him stable until I can get him in somewhere that can work with him.


I know. I finally realized ( very late in the game ) that my son was never going to say much about what was going on in his head. I think trying to figure out everything was very wearing on me. Sometimes, its just better to notice and then do what you have to! I know your son is very young, but if he doesnt want to talk-let it go. Just protect him as best you can and make the doctor aware of everything.
I think Nick also may be on to something in regard to the meds.
Much love to you


The fancy schmancy term for it is Psychogenic Excoriation. I’ve dealt with this for almost my entire life. Luvox, one of the meds I take, is supposed to be good for it. It helps me, though it doesn’t stop it completely. Also, Anafranil helps. Actually it helped me a lot but when I’d take Anafranil I’d get terrible raging heartburn so I got switched to Luvox.


I can gauge the level of stress in my life by the condition of my thumbs!

I am “neurologically normal” - dontcha love that phrase? - and I have had a habit of picking at and biting my cuticles for many, MANY years. I bit my nails when I was a kid, and slowly eliminated that over the years, and now it is pretty much concentrated on the skin around my thumbs. They are almost never fully healed. I have learned to clip and file the areas to reduce picking and biting at it.

It is a bad habit that I have never been able to break for a significant length of time. It may be a symptom for some people, but it can also just be a habit for dealing with stress.


I agree with joanne might be the meds…My son used to carve names/names all over his arms and as soon as they put serequol to the mix and eventually got off ambilify shot instantly his mood was a lot better no irritability. no extreme voices and no more carving names to his body.


I scratch my scalp sometimes. Before my diagnosis I thought I had a brain parasite, because of my tactile hallucinations. Now I know it’s just dandruff, so I use shampoo to stop it.


First off, I want to say this is very personal for me, and I’ve been hesitating on putting this info out there. Having said that, when I was 12, I began picking at the sides of my fingers and pulling the skin back all the way to where the nail bed begins, and push out as much blood as possible and write on walls and things like that. A pdoc noticed this when I was 13 and said “Wow, that looks really painful.” I told him that was the point. I still pick at my fingers, but much much less, and have stopped writing graphic things on the walls of isolation rooms. Please be gentle if you respond to this, I’m very protective of this.


See, what you describe, minus the writing, is very similar to what I do. I think that at times of stress, that pain does kind of ‘ground’ me in a weird way. I can become very aware of how sore they are when I have been doing it a lot. And, I am a carer…

Bad habits start in all kinds of ways. Like I said in a previous post, I have nail clippers available everywhere - in the car, at my desk, in my purse, at home - so that I keep the edges less ‘pickable’. I have thought I had broken the habit a few times, but then it somehow catches up with me.

I don’t like that I do it, but I have pretty much accepted that it is likely to be a lifelong habit, and just do my best to keep in control.