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How to Stop Picking Scabs

Bidisha Mukherjee May 4, 2019
Scab picking is not bad as long as it is not hurting or causing any harm to the skin. If you have started hurting yourself with this act, then find out here how you can deal with this problem.
Scabs are formed on the skin surface when the body is trying to heal an injury. We all know that if we try to pick up its hard crust, it may hurt. Sometimes, bleeding may occur if the injury has not healed properly. Still, some people have this compulsive habit of scab picking.
Sometimes, they may even end up causing an extensive damage to the skin. They are so obsessed about this habit that they look out for such spots on their body where scabs have formed. Some of them may even create such spots so that they can pick scab constantly.


Basically, this is a disorder which falls in the category of obsessive compulsive disorder. Medically, scab picking disorder is known as Dermatillomania. This is more commonly found in girls and it usually starts when they are around 13 years of age. A number of psychological factors can be responsible for developing this kind of habit.
It is an indication of a depressive mind and low self-esteem. Most of the time, it has been observed that people start it so as to vent out their suppressed frustrations. For some people, it is a form of expression for the unspoken emotional turmoil that they have.
Those who have this underlying problem of generalized anxiety disorder often get a sense of relief from stress and anxiety when they pick up skin scabs.
Some of them suffer from undiagnosed Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) because of which they have a strong obsession that there is one or more flaws on their bodily appearance which can be corrected by picking up skin scabs. People with history of emotional trauma or physical abuse tend to develop scab picking obsession.

Tips which Will Help You

Repeated scab picking from the same site can lead to recurrent infection which gives it an ugly appearance. In the long run, it may even lead to permanent scarring of the skin. To avoid all such consequences, one must make special efforts to get rid of this habit. Here are a few remedies that can be helpful in this regard.
  • Keep the size of your nails short. When you have big nails, picking up the scab becomes easier. If you cut them short, removing scabs is not going to be easy.
  • Cover up the wounds with bandage. No matter how big or small the wound is always keep it covered. Thus, you do not get the chance to touch it with your fingers.
  • Apply anti-itch cream on the wound. When a wound is healing up, it tends to give an itching sensation. As a result, you start scratching it unknowingly. With the application of this cream, you will forget that a wound exists on the skin.
  • You can break this bad habit by snapping a rubber band on the wrist. Keep a rubber band tied around your wrist all the time. Every time you notice that your fingers are on the scab, strike the rubber band on the wrist.
The pain will divert your mind from the act of self harm and you will stop picking up scabs. You have to practice it for several days before you successfully quit the habit.
  • Usually, you start scratching the hands when your hands are free. So, if you keep your hands busy in some activities, then you will not get the scope to put your hands on the scab. Knitting, painting, writing or simply squeezing the stress balls will help you stay away from this habit.
If you get a hidden pleasure in scab picking and have started enjoying the pain associated with it, then you must accept it as a major psychological problem and get it treated properly. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is highly effective in treating this kind of disorder. Here, the therapist will help you to identify and discard destructive thoughts.