A Ginormous Scab as a Self-Harm Skin-Picking Trigger

August 30, 2013 Jennifer Aline Graham

I now have a scab that acts as a self-harm skin-picking trigger and it's driving me crazy. Re-living the urges from my self-harming past threatens relapse.

In one of my earlier blogs, I discussed something called body-focused repetitive behaviors. These are behaviors almost every human being deals with and doesn’t realize it is a different version of self-harm – picking hang nails, biting nails, picking at zits or pimples are just a few common ones. Typically, these behaviors are not done to distract, release frustration or to emotionally connect to the pain. Usually, body-focused repetitive behaviors are done without realization.

So, why am I bringing this up again? It goes back to my face and how I fell on it this weekend.

That Teasing Scab Triggers My Self-Harm and Skin-Picking

If you read and watched the video in Take a Moment to Think Before You Self-Harm, I told the story of how this weekend, I was attempting to get a piggy back ride and I ended up falling over the piggy’s shoulders directly onto my face. However, over the past week it has begun to scab and is slowly peeling off.

Yeah, this is starting to sound a little gross – you’ve been warned.

I’m starting to realize how truly difficult it is not to peel the scabs from the fall. Still to this day, I have an issue with picking bumps on my arms and I really see it as a body-focused repetitive behavior because, well, I do it without thought or reason. However, being a former cutter, I still have issues when it comes to stopping self-harm urges and peeling this face-scab is definitely a killer urge.

Some of my coworkers and I were talking about picking, and other body-focused repetitive behaviors, and most us discussed how we would have the most difficult time pushing back the urge to pick a scab. Just by others recognizing this, it should make them see a little bit into the lives of self-harmers.

Take a Step Back From a Self-Harm, Skin-Picking Trigger and Stop the Urge

Self-harmers have a lot of difficulty taking a step back, looking at what is going on around them and choosing not to cut. Even though there are plenty of positive copings skills, which have been discussed in the past, it is still extremely hard to dismiss the urge to self-harm especially when you know it will make you feel better – even for the moment.

With this ginormous mark on my face, I’m finding myself stopping and using self-talk to put my hand down and not touch the mark. Just through this entire ‘falling on my face’ experience, I’m realizing how similar this situation is to when I used to cut. It’s kind of scary, really.

I’m learning that I still have a long way to go to stop myself when it comes to picking at my skin even if it is not for the same reasons as in my past. I don’t want any more scars and this mark on my face will definitely scar if I pick it. I need to use the positive coping skills I have and really test my urges. If I don't use positive self-talk as a coping skill, it’ll be rough ride.

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2013, August 30). A Ginormous Scab as a Self-Harm Skin-Picking Trigger, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

September, 2 2013 at 2:17 pm

What I have to tell myself when I am emotionally stressed or hungry with my food addiction is that hunger is not going to kill me. That face wound is not going to kill you, nor is it the old threats that you perceive. Yes, you will feel better temporarily, but you will increase your risk for infection and permanent scarring. Don't pick it. Lean into the false perception and de-power it. The "remedy" & your old coping habit is worse & only adds complication. Sending you good juju.

September, 7 2013 at 7:40 pm

After I shave, and my hand finds a stray hair, no matter how small it is, if my fingers can grab it, I like to pick at it and eventually pull it out. Now I won't do this if I didn't shave my face the whole day since it's all over the place, but finding that one and pulling it out is so irresistible.
And yes it hurts to pull out face hair. I have managed to resist the urge while driving, but it takes an incredible amount of focus to fight off whatever sensation my body is detecting and subsequently demanding.

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