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    Nailbiting and picking at skin
    jessicobb posted:
    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to this site and just happened upon this message board. I was diagnosed with ADD(the inattentive kind, definately not hyperactive) when I was 7 years old, and I'm now 29. When I was a child, the nuerologist had me on Ritalin from age 7 until age 13. She took me off when I hit puberty because she said it would be just like I was taking Speed (my doctors now say this made no sense). After years of struggling with clinical depression, bulimia and other addictions that I don't have time to go into, I was finally given a medication that worked for my depression (Effexor XR). My doctor has also tried several different ADD meds over the years and I've been on Adderall for over a year now, although it doesn't seem to be doing anything anymore.

    Anyway, the main reason for this post is because I'm curious if ADD can cause fingernail-biting and picking on my face, toenails and the skin around my nails. I've struggled with this all my life. I will bite my fingernails and the skin around them unitl they are bleeding. If I have a little pimple on my face, I'll pick at it unitl it is bleeding, and then when it scabs over, I'll pick at the scab. And I can spend hours with toenail scissors, cutting and picking at my toenails until they are bleeding everywhere and literally taking some of the toenails completely off!

    I hate that I do this and I wish so much that I could have healthy, pretty nails and skin. Sometimes I'm not aware that I'm even doing it, but often I do realize I'm doing it but its like a compulsion that I have to do it. When I was in a treatment center for my bulimia (which I am now recovered from for 3 and 1/2 years, praise God!!) the therapists said this was a form of self-mutilation. But I disagree with this. I'm not doing it because I want to feel the pain or use it to help me deal with life. I've dealt with a lot of addictions in my life and I know the causes and effects of addictions. But this has always felt more like a compulsion. I guess the best way to describe it is like my daydreaming. I'll start daydreaming about something and after a while I'll realize I'm daydreaming and sometimes I'll manage to re-focus on work for a few minutes, but usually I just keep on daydreaming and totally forget about work, even though I know I need to be working. I always feel like the part of me that wants to focus is disconnected from my body and just watching me from the outside as I stay distracted and side-tracked, and I can hear that part of me yelling at me to stay focused but I can't seem to do it!

    I guess I'm just wondering if the nail biting and picking is ever seen as a symptom or behavior of ADD. I guess knowing if it is won't change anything, but at least it will help explain it.

    I'm sorry this post ended up being so long. I hope someone can relate to this. Thank you all for your help. God bless!
    Byroney_WebMD_Staff responded:
    Dear jessicob,

    I'd check out this article on nail biting: It mentions skin-picking, too. If you've had it all your life, then it's not a side-effect of a medication it sounds like.

    Have you worked with a cognative behaviorist or cognative psychologist on retraining or redirecting your behavior? That might be a good person to seek help from.

    I don't have ADHD, and none of the people whom I know who have it, also bite their nails. Maybe some other folks reading this will chime in and add their experiences.

    Best wishes,

    dibbits0530 responded:

    this sounds like OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder. i also am a picker but i take medication for it. i am not a nail biter per se but i do peel my nails when they get chipped. ask your doctors for something for the disorder and see if that works. good luck

    ellua responded:
    i've gone thru a lot of the same things as you- i was on ritalin through high school and also suffered from bulimia for nearly 10 years. anyway i'm 24 now and have been on adderall to help me with my office job for 3.5 years steadily (i take ~60mg/day, try to skip weekends). it's been the ONLY thing that's made the bulimia completely go away and for that reason alone, any side effects are worth it.

    anyway the first 2 years that i took adderall i didn't have any skin picking, just oral fixations (mouth chewing, teeth/jaw clenching, gum chewing, etc). but just over one year ago i added suboxone to my daily meds, and the combination of that and the adderall seem to have caused an awful picking habit (the adderall obviously can cause the hyperfocusing and fixation, combined with the painkilling/analgesic effect of the suboxone which makes it hard to feel the pain signals so i don't stop as quickly as i should).

    i'll pick at non-existent blemishes until my skin swells. i become hyperfocused on extracting dirt/oil from my pores-- literally, one pore at a time, in a magnified mirror. it's like i go into a trance or something!!! i don't WANT to do it and i definitely KNOW better, but it seems to be some kind of coping mechanism or something- it seems to calm me down to an extent. but after months of getting sores on my face from picking til it bleeds and then some, i'm tired of looking like a meth-user and going thru a tube of Neosporin a week, i'm actively & conciously trying to quit this nasty habit. it's gotten a lot better but it's taken a year and i still pick almost every day, but at least i don't sit in my car for an hour before going into a store because i get "stuck" working on my face...

    don't bite my nails anymore, but i'll pick/chew the skin around them until it's raw.

    there aren't any "good" solutions to this effect of the drug except to take less of it. other than that you'd have to take drugs which negate the effect of adderall, like benzos (klonopin has helped me but it also knocks me out). that's my story, just letting you know you're not alone!
    xxxstar_shinexxx responded:
    wow, i could've wrote this exact same post! I do not suffer from bulimia though i have a tendency to not eat at all.

    anyway, i just started adderall and i'm noticing the skin picking a lot more than before. I suffer from bipolar II and ocd as well. on meds for the bipolar, maybe not so much the ocd... I personally think that for me, picking at scabs is more self-mutilation cause i want to bleed and see what kind of scar i will get, but the other picking is force of habit i guess.

    I tell myself to stop all the time but it happens without conscious thought that its hard to catch, ya know? my couple of solutions to doing it are: getting acrylic nails put on, using that NuSkin bandage adhesive on my fingers, hands, arms... wherever and picking at that. for my face (cause i also pick at blemishes) i try to wash my face as much as possible to not have blemishes (easier said than done, right?) and i'll wear foundation so i don't touch my face. cause then my make up will get messed up!

    hope any of that helps... good luck and know that you're not alone in these symptoms
    DaBoyz responded:
    Oh, man you have just described what I do to my fingers and fingernails, even now at 47 years old. AND how I feel about it too.... My mother claims I did this even as a toddler. I was a facial blemish picker in my teens and 20's too! One benefit to getting older; at least you don't break out anymore......

    I was diagnosed with ADHD a year ago. I am on Welbutrin due to health issues that preclude stimulants. My situation was complicated by depression, anxiety, and the effects of childhood sexual abuse, so I've never been quite sure what quirk comes from where....

    I hope you see your doc about your meds not working anymore though. I remember struggling with that feeling of trying to think through a fog, or having all kinds of brain static interferering with thinking. No one should have to live like that. I was amazed at the feeling of simple clarity after my meds started to work.

    Take care!
    stevesac responded:

    I usually dont post things but I found your question all too relatable and didnt see that anyone had posted back. I was diagnosed with ADHD at 14 and I believe I am both hyperactive and inattentive. I am now 20 and just realizing how much ADHD has been a factor in my life. I can relate to your addictive personality because I have struggled with drug use to cope with my disability and frustration. I, too, have questioned why I feel the need to constantly pick at my face. I have been doing it since I was 13. I do not speak to anyone about it but, friends and family over the years have noticed my compulsion to squeeze every pore on my face and pick untill my skin is bleeding, red, and sore for days. When I see a pimple on someones face I will literally fixate on it to the point of anger because I want to pop it and I know I cant. I agree that it is a compulsion and I think it may also be influenced by genetics. But I strongly feel that it is also a result of the medicine we have to take. I cant live with Adderall, but if I dont take medicine I wont do well in school, and when it makes me jittery I feel like I have to pick at things like my nails or face. If you arent on medicine I would have to say that it is both personality and compulsion. The compulsion portion is probably a way for us to deal with our lives, where we can get lost and lose track of time to get away from all the pressures we have to live up to society's standards. Either way, I feel very comforted that I am not alone in my situation because living with ADD is awesome but also challenging and many days I feel completely alone in my battle to get through life like everyone else.
    troland1113 responded:
    Hi there I am also a newcomer to this site and have to say, was almost relieved when I read your post. I was diagnosed with ADD about 2 years ago. They say I also have a form of ADHD but not the hyperactive kind. I'm constantly fidgeting, such as wiggling my toes or tapping my foot. Along with a list of other diagnosis, it took until I was 24 to be diagnosed and begin the treatment process. I was always aware that both ADD & ADHD run in my family but never realy knew what it was, even now look at it as a foggy topic. They started me on Ritalin then Strattera and for about a year now I to have been takeing Adderall. Growing up I always popped my pimples wich I know is the worst thing you could do to clear them up, but they call it 'habbit' for a reason. If my memories correct, (which I wouldent count on 100% these days:pbpt:) my 'habbit' has gotten much worse since I started takeing Adderall. Now I constantly pick at my skin, every little bump, pimple even ingrown hair. Usualy I wont even realize I'm doing it, I'll just be sitting there watching T.V , talking to a friend, right now as I'm typeing this. Sometimes my picking gets so bad I wont let anyone see my without makeup on to cover it up or I'll wear long sleeve shirts from picking so bad at my arms. I'm left looking like I'd gotten into a fight with Fredie Kruger! My skin will scab over just to have me pick it off again. There's even some scarring left behind that looks like I had a bad case of the Chicken Pox. No matter what I do, I cant seem to stop. Untill now, I've kept this 'bad habbit' to myself by hideing it well and the few times anyone noticed, I would say it's a rash or a sudden outbreak. There is no logical explanation I could give as to why I cannot seem to stop doing this to myself. I've been trying to find that same answer for myself for quite some time and I also disagree that its a form of self-mutalation. I dont like doing it and am both embarrassed and ahamed at haveing no control over such a pointless habbit. I highly doubt its caused from haveing ADD or ADHD, I have both friends and family with one, the other or both and none are dealing with this. It may somehow be caused from Adderall, seeing our simularities and takeing the same medication. Though I dont see how it could be and nothing of the sort was ever mentioned as any one of the possible side effects. You had mentioned takeing antidepressants, as do I. Maybe a mix of the two has some weird side effects:goofy:? Can I ask how many mg. you take daily? If they dont seem to be working as well as they used to, you should talk to your Doc. about upping your dose. I know how frusterating this is to deal with especcialy not knowing why the heck your doing it and I hope I was some help. I cant tell you how nice it is knowing I'm not the only one. Take care!
    onetogo2012 responded:
    Hi, I've been ADHD (inattentive type) all my life, but just officially diagnosed several months ago at 43 yrs old. I am definitely a picker...primarily my cuticles. My sons pediatrician told me yesterday that the picking is a primary ADD symptom in females, boys tend to chew on things.....pencils, erasers, plastic. Even when my meds are working I pick, but not as often. I tend to be more aware of my picking when I'm medicated where as before I was often unaware. It sounds like you may need your meds adjusted.

    Hope this helps!
    RoseDakota responded:
    Wow is all I can say. I am almost a mirror image of your post. However I wasn't diagnosed until recently. But I always knew, as I had the same problems in high school with self esteem, eating disorders, and just for kicks, alcohol and drug issues (mostly just weed) but I'm over it now. Still drink, no smoke. I miss it though. I am a 27 year old Designer, so I sit infront of my computer all day. I'll notice myself reading something and then I start picking at my cuticles. I never use to do this until a couple years ago, but I use to pick at my face all the time, not so much anymore as now I concentrate on the fingers. I think it has to do with the fact that I'm getting older, and I can't do the things I use to. Realizing that I'm not going to be the top 30 under 30 and its feeding into my anxiety and stress levels. Plus I work at a job that I hate right now, so for 40 hrs a week I loath myself and sometimes the people around me, especially my boss, as his very presence makes my skin crawl.

    Anyhow, I've done things like the liquid bandaid, but you still might pick it off, if you catch an edge. But it helps, I believe someone else had this advice too . I do find when things in my life are on the right track or when I'm generally happier with myself, that it lessens or I don't notice the skin I want just want to pick off or that pimple on my chin. Personally I'm lazy and disorganized, but when I'm on my game, it starts to go away.

    Thank you for the post. It was really nice to know that I'm not the only one out there. People who don't have this issue really don't understand. That's why I find it hard to take advice from people who don't have it. Again, thank you for your post.

    Best Regards
    steph_a responded:
    hey everyone!

    I DON'T have ADD but take adderall every day. Adderall definately makes me pick at my face compulsively. I've always had the habit of touching my face but adderall gives me the urge to stand infront fo the mirror for hours picking away. Sometimes I dont' sleep the whole night cuz i'm picking at my skin, and the lack of sleep actually turns everything into real pimples. It sucks! I pick at every bump on my body, pluck ingrown hairs, wear alot of make up to cover everything up, can never wear a sleeveless and lift up my arms! I have a great brother who lets me squeeze all his pores for hours (AND he has ALOT of blackheads!!! hurray!) even to the point of tears. I try to surround myself with ppl so I wouldnt' want to come out of the bathroom with little red bumpbs all over my face.

    I wonder if this picking problem is more pervasive among females?

    By the way, congrats on getting over bulimia. I was bulimic for so many years, the adderall has really helped control it.
    exintrovert responded:
    I am so amazed at the number of people on here that are so alike.

    I am 28 and I really struggle with the skin picking. I have searched for probably a year to find an explanation for this compulsion. There is a name for the disorder where people pull out their own hair, so I thought surely this falls under the same category. And no, it is NOT self-mutilation in most cases.

    I used to search using the terms picking scabs OCD popping pimples pus hyperactive grooming... and I never found an answer. Today, I was squeezing the pores on my nose *again* and it dawned on me to search for "compulsion to squeeze pores" and I immediately found this post! All these months...

    I was diagnosed with bipolar II several years ago, but I am not taking anything for it. I have not been diagnosed with ADD but I suspect with great certainty that I suffer from it. So I am not taking any medications, but I suffer from the same compulsions that you all do. If I have a snag on my nail, I must rip it off. I have been able to refrain from ripping it back to the cuticle because the pain became so great while typing, but I have to consciously force myself to get the clippers or a file before I tear my nails off.

    My main thing is the pore squeezing right now. I don't get a lot of pimples but that doesn't stop me from finding something wrong with my face. While driving, watching TV or surfing the web, I am constantly touching my face. If I feel the slightest bump or irregularity, my nails go in. If I get caught in front of a mirror, I examine my pores, especially on my nose. I think it is because I have larger pores on the nose. If I see a pore that looks dirty, I will squeeze until I get that tiny bit of... whatever it is... out. Sometimes this requires using my fingernails.

    The whole time I am doing it, I am thinking to myself "Just stop, let it be, it will look terrible if you do this..." but it doesn't stop me. I think it is more important to me how my skin feels to my hands than how my skin looks.

    I have been able to make myself stop before wrecking my whole face, but I can't seem to walk away before getting just one. I just won't be satisfied until I see something come out. In fact, if I feel what seems like a pimple, I won't just scratch it - I have to go to the mirror so I can watch it pop.

    I get tense when I see a big pimple on someone else's face. I can't stand it and I almost stop breathing. I stare at it, and I have to find a distraction in order to carry on a conversation. This all drives me nuts. I want it to go away. My husband hates it when I pop his pimples - but I MUST!

    So I just thought I would chime in and state that I would bet that your medication is not causing the compulsion, but it might be intensifying it. I have also found that my compulsion is stronger when I am having other anxiety symptoms that I am not keeping in check.

    We should start a club... we could all get together and groom eachother. HAHA

    That was a joke, but it raises an interesting question: How many of you skin pickers/pore squeezers get equal satisfaction from popping another person's pimples?
    NotCrazyNow responded:
    OMG! I finally know that I'm not crazy...there are other skin pickers too! I was diagnosed with ADHD a year ago but have been skin picking for years. My mother recalls when I was a toddler I picked my ears until they would bleed. Teenage years I chose to peel the skin on my lips (which I still do), then as an adult I have been picking my cuticles for the last 4 years. It drives my husband crazy. The only way I had found to stop was acrylic nails or using bandaids. Then I started taking Wellbutrin SR and the urge to pick completely left after 4 days on the med. I can't believe it!

    Wellbutrin SR doesn't completely cover my ADHD issues like Adderall did, (taken for 1 yr). Adderall worked great for my ADHD except that I would be really cranky and almost like a robot. So I am trying Wellbutrin and it definately has given me my personality back and with the added bonus of not picking my skin...It's great!

    Hope this helps!
    blkpony responded:
    Hello to all . . . I am a newby at this so please forgive me if my post seems strange!

    I was just searching on Google for symptoms like mine and I stumbled upon these posts. I was put on meds for adhd about 2.5 years ago b/c I couldn't seem to focus at work and was always jumping from one thing to another and could never seem to get motivated to do anything and ever since then I have been picking! I was taking Adderall first and noticed that I picked at my lips almost non-stop and they stayed sore and flakey looking all the time . . . the doctor said that was a rather common side effect. I didn't like the Adderall so I was put on Concerta and that is when I started noticing that was picking at my face somewhat frequently (more so the longer I took it). I changed jobs and was without insurance for about 5 months so during that time I took regular Ritalin b/c the Concerta was too expensive. I changed doctors about 7 months ago and he had me try Focalin which was about the same as the Concerta. I also mentioned to this new doctor how sleepy I always seemed to be and that I could hardly function without the medication. Now that I have insurance again I am taking Concerta again although I am now taking it for narcolepsy not adhd. Come to find out the restlessness and lack of concentration was due to the fact that I was fighting sleep all the time (I still think I might have a little adhd). I underwent a sleep study and was diagnosed with narcolepsy. I now see the doctor that read my sleep study results (he is a neurologist specializing in sleep disorders) for my meds but I am still on Concerta. I take 54mg in the morning when I get up and 18mg around 3:30 or 4:00 so that I am awake/alert for my 40 minute commute home. I also take Provigil from time to time but only when I am really really tired. The increase in Concerta mg makes the picking seem so bad. I do it knowing I shouldn't and knowing that my face is going to bruse and have red spots all over it from trying to squeeze every little blackhead. I never had acne as a child and now that I am 26 my face looks like the face of a teen. I went to see a dermatologist and he gave me some super expensive gel but I have come to realize that if I would just stop picking my face it would be clear. What does this and how do I stop????
    NotCrazyNow responded:
    I'm telling ya'll....try Wellbutrin SR! Although I do still pick at my lips a little....I stopped picking at my fingers! That was huge after 4 yrs! I came off of the Wellbutrin because of the interaction of ADHD meds (Adderal) now Vyvanse. I still haven't picked at my fingers after 6 weeks! That's huge!!!!

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