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Author Topic: Nervous picking at body...can't seem to break the habit...  (Read 162 times)

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Offline shaula

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Hi, all.

I have a bit of a problem, I tend to pick at my body when I am anxious....like I pick pimples, bite nails, mess with my hands, etc...if I feel a region is bothering me, I tend to poke and prod it (looking for pain or swelling?) until it actually starts to hurt....I noticed yesterday that one of the lymph nodes in my jaw, almost right under the curve of the jaw on one side, was tender yesterday. No surprise, as I clench my jaw rather hard and am generally sensitive in that area...well, I couldn't stop messing with it, I still kind of can't, and the lymph node on that side is now noticably swollen! I am not feverish, it is not rock hard or anything, although perhaps a bit tender, and my throat doesn't hurt...could my messing with it have made it swell?

I am trying so hard not to think of cancer, and I just can't stop wanting to touch my poor little lymph node! I'm driving myself nuts here, how do I break the habit of messing with my body like this?! Lymph nodes aside, I tend to mess with acne a lot, too...my face is very scarred :/
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Offline an0nym0us

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Re: Nervous picking at body...can't seem to break the habit...
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2014, 05:57:44 AM »
I have a similar problem. I pick at things, tear skin, chew the inside of my mouth and pull out eyelashes. I actually scared myself into thinking I had some kind of skin or eye condition because I was missing a decent portion of eyelashes on only one eye and that eyelid was feeling noticeably painful and tender. Fortunately it occurred to me that it was the eye on the side of my dominant hand and I was able to catch myself pulling them out several times, I hadn't even been aware that I was doing it. Once I became aware and managed to stop they grew back and now look completely normal again.

My biggest problem is biting my lips and cheeks. The inside of my mouth is a mess. It's actually quite painful. I've been trying to kick the habit for a good year but I haven't been able to. I don't even realize I'm doing it. I've actually worn down the gum line where one of my knuckles was constantly pressing my bottom lip to allow my teeth better access. I wish I could give you advice but honestly I need advice regarding this issue myself. It seems to be a nervous habit and I'm a nervous wreck.

I also obsess over a part of my body that's concerning me. It's definitely possible to exacerbate a problem with excessive poking and prodding. Of course the obvious answer is to stop poking and prodding but as we both probably know, such a thing is much more easily said than done. As far as the concern over you lymph node goes: try to distract yourself. I know this too is easier said than done but you may find great improvement if you manage to keep your hands off it for a period of time. Consider it something of a diagnostic test. I mentioned the eyelashes because I wanted to give an example of a time I created my own problem. I can't give you advice on how to stop, I can't imagine a reason for why I was able to stop with the eyelashes but not my mouth, but I can tell you: in this case of mine the problem was gone once I stopped interfering with the healing process.

I'm sorry. I'm basically telling you to try to think logically but I know from my own experience that these fears and compulsions don't tend to respond to logic. The eyelashes aren't the only example of an issue I've made worse with my meddling. They're the most recent but they're far from the only. So far, none of these issues have killed me. In fact, they've all gone away. Please take this fact into consideration. When you have a situation like your lymph node try your hardest to remember: did the pain increase the longer you worried about it? Was it as painful as it is now one day ago? One hour ago? I find when I do what you're doing I manage to convince myself that I noticed the problem because of the pain but often that is not the case, I usually noticed the problem because I was looking for it, the pain was a direct result of my having found what I was looking for. If you look for a problem with your body it is inevitable that you will find one. Everyone has weird little irregularities, bumps, marks. If every one of these irregularities were a sign of a fatal default there wouldn't be a single living human in existence.

I'm sorry for responding to your simple question with a novel-length reply that doesn't even directly answer it, but I feel like I understand at least a bit of what you're going through. I hope things work out for you.
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Offline marc

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Re: Nervous picking at body...can't seem to break the habit...
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2014, 07:53:22 AM »
I would talk to your physician about the skin picking and the swollen lymph node.
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Offline Myocdragon

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Re: Nervous picking at body...can't seem to break the habit...
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2014, 09:34:37 AM »
This is potentially (and in my humble opinion, probably) OCD behavior, depending on frequency and severity. Read this:
http://www.ocfoundation.org/uploadedFiles/MainContent/Find_Help/Skin%20Picking%20Disorder%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

The best thing you could do would be to see a psychiatrist & a cognitive behavioral therapist.
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Offline mollyfin

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Re: Nervous picking at body...can't seem to break the habit...
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2014, 08:44:24 PM »
Skin picking can lead to infection which might explain the node, if you had a pimple or something there. 
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