the state of my fingers and toes

i need a manicure and pedicure–the state of my fingers and toes is horrendous.  and i must admit, i can tell some internal anxiety meter is spiking.  because i do these HORRIBLE things when i get stressed out:

i pick at the hangnails on my fingers (and gnaw on them)…and i also pick the bottoms of my feet.  i have not done the “picking of the bottoms of my feet” in YEARS but now i’m doing it again.  what the fuck?  i just pick and pick at the dry skin and now the bottom of my right foot is so cut up and tender.  is this just another manifestation of self-mutilation?  or just a nervous tic?  or what?


if i grossed you out, apologies.  this is just one of those things i can now post on an anonymous blog.  and now i have officially blogged something personal and NOT about writing here (i’m trying to diversify).



Filed under Life, Miscellaneous

64 responses to “the state of my fingers and toes

  1. Pingback: OCD is good for writing, not good for my feet « Writing Under a Pseudonym

  2. Pam

    I have been picking at my thumbs and bottom of my feet for years. I had one doctor tell me its OCD and happens when Im most stressed out. Recently another Doctor told me its not OCD. My boyfriend says its the same as cutting but I dont see it like that. Most of the time I dont even know im doing it, its like i go into a trance or something.

  3. yup–i am familiar with cutting and it isn’t like that for me, either–though i have heard this behavior referred to as self-mutilation. i get into a trance, too.

    more importantly, i must get to the root of my anxiety!

  4. Melissa

    I am so happy (I guess…) to know I am not the only “weirdo” (as my boyfriend calls me) that picks their feet. I don’t even know I am picking my feet until I get to fresh skin and start bleeding. I don’t mean to, and I want to stop… but right when I think my feet are healing I find something else on them to pick and enter a trance. Its horrible and it hurts to walk!! I won’t do something at that moment (like go to the bathroom) because I am so into picking my feet! But I love peeling skin off! Ugh! I’ve been diagnosed with OCD, but I learned to deal with my “bad thoughts.” Now this might be another side of OCD that my psychologist said would probably happen. She said once you get one aspect of OCD fixed, you usually will find something else. Too bad this one is so painful! If anyone finds a behavior that helps them stop… please let me know! What do you do NOT pick your feet?! HELP!

    • Mary Rose

      You’re definitely NOT alone. Your boyfriend doesn’t have the right to call you anything because he has no understanding of manifested addiction you face. Keep on being as brave and beautiful as you clearly are, help will come eventually. I’ve lost so many hours (like this past afternoon) getting into those traces. I’ll be in one for three to four hours sometimes and forget food, school, friends, etc. Sometimes when i peeled my heels raw the night before it’s unbearably painful to take my shower the next morning and i’ll star crying in the shower because it hurts so bad.

  5. Hi Melissa

    one thing I do to curtail the picking of my feet is to wear socks and slather my feet with super rich foot lotion. i find that my OCD to “keep things nice and neat” does not want to perturb this particular balance of things.

    of course, i sometimes fall off the wagon and pick away anyway.

    • jada

      Oh my God…..I thought it was just me.
      I fell off the wagon to copy your words….about one week ago.

      I found myself in a daze as I stared at the TV picking away.
      One little dry snag….and before I knew….I had started with this awful…self mutilating habit again. It had been a year and a half that I had last done this to myself. Prior to that it was at least ten years since I had last picked.
      This habit started when I was a teenager…..I am now over 50.
      As a teen I lived in a high stress , disfunctional household….I retreated to
      my room and before I knew it habit had begun. I would pick on bottom of heel and along the bottom side of both feet. It is a miracle I never developed an infection. Over the years I had learned that my mom also had experienced this habit.
      I have always kept this private and managed to prevent anyone from realizing what I had been doing to myself. Wore socks always to bed.
      My daughter and I are very close and one day she told me what she had done. Thank goodness she was able to stop for good.
      I have never discussed this with a doctor…..I know that I likely have OCD.
      My marriage has never been too good ….history repeated itself. I think I am turning into my mother. I have felt more depressed this last week than usual. I also deal with anxiety.
      I really need to talk to a professional I know…..thank God I only picked one heel. It is hard enough having trouble some days walking when I have a arthritis flare up ….crazy….I say to myself what the h… am I doing to myself.
      Before I sat down and found this site I had just finished bathing and loaded gobs of Neosporane on my heel and took a long clean white sock and wrapped it around my foot and pinned it and then slipped another sock over that.
      And then trimmed my finger nail as short as possible. This always makes it pretty impossible to pick.
      Thank you all for sharing….it really feels good to know I am not alone.
      🙂 Jada

      It felt good to read that I am not alone .

      • @Jada: you’re not alone! and you are correct in asserting there are underlying problems in how our stress is manifested in..picking. take care of yourself. talk to someone. i know that the more i take care of myself and surround myself with love and joy, the less i am inclined to self-harm!

  6. mikan36


    Reading this post + comments reassured me quite a bit in knowing that I’m not alone in my awful habits. I pick at my feet too… 😦 before that it was cuticles. X'(

    In reference to Melissa: “She said once you get one aspect of OCD fixed, you usually will find something else.”

  7. mikan36

    :O my last part got cut off:
    I wrote (in ref. to Melissa’s comment)–

  8. mikan36

    I think my very existance proves this statement true.

  9. LK

    Picking at self = nerves.

  10. Tom

    I peel the skin off my fingers and toes too. I have been diagnosed with OCD but I also suffer from depression and anxiety aswell. I think the peeling, for me anyways, is to do with trying to perfect myself. I often peel the skin off until it’s raw and sometimes even bleeds and it’s quite painful at times and makes it difficult to use my hands because they become quite sore and sensitive. I spend ages trying to get my fingers and toes to look right but I never can because it just seems to make it worse, though I still do it. I keep telling myself that I’m going to stop doing it but I just end up doing it again, it’s like I can’t stop myself. I’d like to think that it’s just a bad habit but I think it’s more likely to be a symptom of my OCD and anxiety disorders.

    Melissa, how did you manage to deal with your “bad thoughts”? I have had to cope with the same thing for the past 8 or so years, ever since high school and I’m 23 now.

    I have seen a few psychiatrists but they haven’t helped me at all really but I think that’s mainly due to the fact that I find it hard to open up and talk about them.

    • Mary Rose

      i deal with the exact same stuff you described in your first paragraph. It’s freaky seeing someone else having written down my thoughts already but I wanted to thank you for your strength in sharing and know tha tit’s benefited someone. Good luck to you.

    • Mary Rose

      oh and it started when I was 4. I’m 17 now and a total self mutilation professional. ocd made me throw my life away, it sucked up the time other people get to use for stuff like being content with themselves. it’s been a mixed blessing though, it makes me understand alot more about myself and about my friends than i believe other people have the opportunity to examine.

  11. Shayla

    Try tons of lotion or gloves. Wear socks, it is caused by stress, anxiety. Record the times and dates you do this, you will see it coorelates with different stress factors in your life.

  12. Linzie

    I am also addicted to picking my feet and fingers. I have totally ruined the bottom of my right foot. Half of the skin is gone. I don’t like to believe I am OCD, and I know I don’t do it because I am stressed. I just find it satisfactory to get rid of the loose skin. The only way I get myself to stop is too keep busy and leave the socks on and that rarely happens! As soon as my mind wanders and my socks are off, my hand automatically drifts to my feet or fingers. If I try to put on lotion that makes me start picking again because I have to rub my feet to put on the lotion. The only real way I believe I can stop doing this addiction is to either chop my fingers off or keep permanent band aids over the entire area!

  13. Katie

    with regards to the feet, i don’t wear socks i wear tights so its harder to get them off to pick, but i can’t wear gloves so most of my stress is taken out on my fingers. I feel so ashamed of them i can’t pass things to people or let my hands near them for fear of them seeing my hands. I need help…

  14. jellyjo

    i didn’t realize there was a club for this – someone close to me has the same issue, but picks/peels his toenails right off –what the heck? although my OCD is popping and squeezing and peeling dry skin over and over again not allowing it to heal. do you think hypnosis is the answer? works for smokers…

  15. Dallas

    I am SOOOOOO glad I found this post. I have been doing this forever and it’s so painful and embarassing. I have been trying to keep it from my husband and it has worked but who knows for how long. I fear he’ll see it while I’m sleeping. He recently yelled at me for biting the skin off and mutilating my fingers. We had a huge fight because he called it gross and I told him that was an asshole thing to say. I have tried to stop doing this but it never works. I’m glad there are others out there.

  16. Peeler2

    OMG I didn’t know others had this problem too. I’m relieved that I’m not alone. I’ll try some of the suggestions posted.

  17. Lyndi

    I’m only 15, but I’ve been picking and biting the skin off my fingers for half my life. I have NEVER had my hands completely clear of wounds, even when my mom would bandage me up. I’d pull the bandaids off and keep picking the skin. Now that I’m older, it’s starting to become so tedius, it’s becoming a wall between my mom and I because she thinks that if she can quit smoking, I can quit biting my fingers. I go to the nurse almost every other day to get bandaids on my fingers, and the nurse told me it was anxiety. So I got some pills for anxiety and it didn’t even do much for me, and I realised I’m not even someone who experiences anxiety! It never even came into my mind that it could be OCD until about a year ago when my mom was researching it. I also, picked at the heals of my feet and basically all other places that could form dead skin, like my toes and my lips. I also HAVE to pop any new zits that appear, I can’t just leave them alone. Now I’ve figured it out that no matter how much I would bleed or how much it would hurt, I just HAD to get that skin off, and once I did I felt satisfied. I’m ready to stop this gross habit but it’s a lot harder than people think. Now my friends point it out and ask, “What happened?!” I don’t want to be the girl with the gross fingers, that’s really sad.

    I wish I could stop this.

  18. Sonia

    I would recommend some nice, short, acrylic nails. I am a compulsive finger and toe picker. I do it when stressed (which is all the time) and when I was younger and had acrylic nails put on I didn’t do it. You just can’t. I’m glad I found this website and know I’m not the only one. Thanks. : )

  19. sari

    me too !! i have the same problem , nice to know im not the only one, but there must be a cause for it and cure for it.

  20. Kat

    Wow! I can’t beleive all the other foot pickers out there.

    I have been doing this since i was a kid and now that i am 29, it can get pretty bad. Toes bleed, cuticals ripped out, strips of calis on the heal and toes and sides of feet. I find i actually look for things to help me get larger portions off at a time. Nail clippers, razors, anything pointy like safty pins and stuff….anything to really get it going. Its totally twisted and it is extreamly trance like. Most of the time I don’t even know that i am doing it until I realize what I am doing and even then it feels like a gulity peasure. Sometimes they bleed, never terribly but man, your feet without calis is damn sore.

    I have heard that it could be OCD…but I am a hardcore ADD sufferer. Can these two work together? I do have stress and anxity but doesn’t everyone to some degree and they don’t do this.

    I also in the last few years…uh like 6….discovered playing with old drywall or breaking up small peices of concrete or some farily easy to break up brick and other such nonesence. collecting it like sand and rubbing that through my hands. Breaking it and playing and rubbing and foot picking and tearing and ripping….I wish it didn’t sound this f**t but i guess it is, My boyfriend knows I do both of these, it was hard to hid it forever…and he just says (lovingly) “You’re just crazy” I am begining to think this is a possiblity and not in a “loving” way. Actually this is the first time i have talked about it this much, detailed and all at once. HELP I am in my own Texas Chainsaw Massacre closet nightmare!!!!!!

  21. sweetsorrow

    wow am i so glad to have googled this blog, im in the same boat as all of you, im a habitual toe picker (recently) but have always picked at my thumbs and cuticles to the point where my raw skin is throbbing. like you all, its almost trance like where i dont feel the pain while doing it but once im done, i can barely walk…its horrible esp now since summer has hit and its more noticeable….has anyone been able to stop successfully?

  22. Crys

    I used to compulsively bite my nails, and they bled and were open and gross, and sometimes I would only have 1/3 of a nail left. I tried *everything* but the only thing that worked was getting short acrylic nails put on. (Key word being Short.) It was impossible for me to bite them. Only problem was, now that I’m out of that habit I have moved on to my toes. They are so bad (think: no nails on at least half of my toes and drawing blood daily) and they hurt something fierce. I’ve taken to pouring hydrogen peroxide on them when i’m done picking because i know they’ll get infected some day. I can’t very well put fake toenails on when there’s no nail to begin with… does anyone have *anything* they have done successfully for the toes? And once I get over that behavior, what other horrible disgusting OCD behavior do I have to look forward to? (Maybe I’ll just stick with the toes…)

  23. okay okay, so me too. I peel the bloody mess out of only my left foot (why not the right foot? beats me).

    Now for some reason unknown to me; perhaps to console the others by recognition of the psychic unity that ensnares all us over-anxious frustrated and lonely Westerners, I feel the deep impulse to reply to this stream of confessional blogging that began with a single admittance in October of 2006.

    I believe this fascination of mine started when I was a kid. I am and have always been a klutz, and at some point, at least 12/13, I had done it with such frequency on the exact same spot that I had permanently uglified my left baby toenail. Of course I tried to correct it, but instead that good intention was accompanied by the process of constant picking. Yuck yuck yuck. First my left foot, then my right. At some point I decided I would refuse to touch my feet. It was high school, and I wanted some boy. I managed to control my right foot addiction but not my left; the original sin. Now, 7 years later, my right foot is damn lovely, with no scars or deformity. I look at it and touch it gently as proof that I actually can stop; that my will is stronger than whatever nervous tactile fixation/self-mutilation/sublimation/self-perfection/I actually just love the f*ing feeling, so shut the *uck up if you don’t do it yourself or understand…kind of thing I got goin’ on…

    So actually for years, perhaps 2, I stopped picking my feet cold turkey just after I’d gotten my right foot under control. It’s so difficult…the blank stare into hours with disjointed thoughts sliding through your consciousness; synapses which are most connected to your sense of feel in you hands and nails than to sight, sound or taste. Is that death, when that happens? Is that a itsy feeling of what it would feel like to exist without body or ego? No effin way. The feeling is like a coppery ground wire feeding underground to tap the source of life from the soil.
    When I peel I often feel that it reminds me that I am alive. The constant work for my hands, and the layers I can feel satisfactorily ripping from my heel and toe are bliss. It’s a carnal pleasure, but so soothing and so intimate that perhaps it is one of the more dangerous. You only hurt yourself. You always catch it in time not to be permanently disabled. Socks. Hose. Gloves. Vaseline. Our weapons against tearing the flesh from our bodies to achieve to deeper, cleaner, more perfect part of our bodies, but maybe souls, too. It’s always waiting beneath that next layer of tender skin. Ah, I’ve never done this “tell the world all you personal bs” thing before, but I really had to do this.
    Okay, so I stopped with the feet 100%, but then slowly turned to my finger nails. I wouldn’t realize what was happening until my hands burned from the soap I used. Next, I got my hands under control in about 6 months. I returned to my left foot soon after, but I only peeled around that ugly baby toe. For years with varying intensities, I left foot have it. I found several things to help reduce the anxiety or frustration thing. Just for the record, I am often very happy, but unhappiness and stress are very different. Happy happy people have nervous ticks or OCD and ADD and/or other anxiety related whatever out the whazoo. But I work a lot. Two jobs, my husband and school. For me, it’s a lot because it’s an entirely new experience. I am 22 and this happened very quickly; from my father’s house to my husband’s.

    I have found that becoming scrupulous with foot care really helps. Instead of looking for sharp objects which I have done many many times, I tr to look for an emory board, pumice stone or foot smoother of some type. These things just aren’t as destructive as your hands or sharp objects b/c they work slowly. Usually after using them just a while during which an intense mental battle with my hands is occurring to keep them from picking, my foot (even though it may look shitty) because it feels much softer and more “perfect” after using it.
    Beware, sometimes applying lotion after using some foot/callous smoother, may bring out the textures of you peeling holes if you have little mountains, valleys, gulfs and canyons like I do at times on your feet. Sometimes if I put lotion after smoothing I am very very tempted to “finish the job” with my nails. I leave the dust from the stones on my feet for awhile, it really has no negative affect (with socks on esp:).
    I am also using foot washes whenever I can with my hellish schedule. I likes ones with tons of hard exfoliating crystals. They really make my heels feel softer. If I dont keep a rigid schedule my feet go south. If you want to stop (granted you may not) you have to approach is as regiment-like as meals or the bathroom. No choice in the manner.
    Even though I love the feeling, I appreciate the softness of my skin and my walking more. I’m tired of limping around the house and work b/c of subconscious stressors. So um, good luck to whomever else has this issue. Just make sure you replace the addiction. I soak my feet and meditate instead of picking them and zoning out. The time waste is equal :). Now that I have read what others have to say and have had a chance to announce my sin, I really do feel absolved. The habit of peeling has always been a black monster in every corner for me. waiting to spring on a friend or lover or family member or masseuse or walker-by and scare the crap out of them. I am really to leave to room all together. Thank You. If I hadn’t known other did this shit I would really lose it; I mean the will to quit. hmmm writing is a bit cathartic.

  24. Crys

    Thanks! You know what else worked? Reading all of these messages actually helped me too. I went 24 hours without picking at my toes, (Hold the applause, hold the applause.) Now I think Whitney here is onto something with that emery board idea. Nail clippers are enemy #1 for me. I’ll start right now. Okay, maybe tomorrow.

  25. lauriepants

    i just had my 47th birthday two days ago and i have been peeling the skin off my fingers for as long as i can remember. i used to only do my thumbs but the past few years it has gotten totally out of control. i went to a therapist for depression a few years back and she asked me (after a few sessions) if i had ever been abused as a child. it shocked me that she would ask that, but after i thought about it i realised that i don’t remember most of my childhood, and my mother was a real bitter, moody bitch. i think now i may have begun this terrible practice in response to things that happened to me then. i only managed to stop one time, for a couple of months, and i did it by becoming obsessed instead with CARING for my nails and skin…lotion, nail polish wearing pretty rings, etc. but one day for whatever reason i started to pick again and now it looks worse than ever. i’d give anything to stop.

  26. Collector

    I am so happy I found this… now I don’t feel as weird! I’ve been picking at my feet since middle school (I’m 20 now). In the beginning of my picking, I used to collect the skin I peeled and prided myself on the big thick pieces.. I weened myself off the peeling by pampering my feet with foot scrubs, foot masks, and the pedi egg – but I do have the occasional every otherish month relapse. And I just snapped out of the “trance” just now.. with a bloody foot and much regret because I’m on my feet all day tomorrow. I also frequently pick at my lips (and I stop that by applying carmex or chapstick)..

    I never thought about this to be a stress event and I don’t think I’m an OCD type person at all.. It is a trance once you get started.. I know its bad and it hurts, but I just can’t stop once I’ve started.

  27. Jeez

    It’s so nice to know you’re not alone. I’ve been a compulsive skin-picker since I was 12, peeling my fingers since I was 20, and now I’m peeling my feet (and I’m in my 40s). And I’m a psychologist! It may have been related to stress initially, but now it’s just a very rewarding habit; something most people wouldn’t relate to (except folks on this board), but for me, it’s such a relief to get it off or out. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to quit, although I think I can reduce the frequency if I get too nutty with it.

  28. Wow.

    You guys have all brought me so much relief. I actually though i was fucking insane. I still feel like I am. Its such a weird habit. I pick my heals till they are raw and bloody and too sore to walk on for the next few days. I hate it about myself.

  29. gryph

    I’m 18 and I have been peeling the skin off the bottom of my big toe on my right foot for about 3 years now. Everything you guys have described matches what Im suffering. Sometimes I will spend hours just trying to get a piece of skin off. I usually try and get the largest piece that i can get off my toe and sometimes keep the skin to dry out. I know thats gross but I go into a hypnotic state where my only reason in life is to remove this piece of skin. I like to study the skin when i peel it off, i don’t no why and people find it gross. Im starting to think it might be OCD. I also peel the skin off the sides of my thumbs and I love the pain. Also i occasionally bite my bottom lip, sometimes ripping the tissue from out of the lip, Occasionally i get lightheaded from the immense pain but at the same time its the greatest feeling in the world, the next day I will have a large black mark on my lip from where i have ripped the flesh. Im glad im not the only one

  30. tiffany

    I pick the skin off my lips until they bleed. I keep picking and picking no matter how much blood. I also pick the skin around my nails and lately I have been using a pair of tweezers to pull the skin from inside my ears. I had a psychiartrist but he was fired. I do not know if I was misdiagnosed with OCD or if I have some other severe illness. I need help with this. Is this self injury?

  31. diagnosis

    This condition, that I have suffered with for years as well, IS most definitely a manifestation of OCD.

    Even if you don’t “feel” like you have OCD, if you are doing the things mentioned above to the point of scarring or bleeding and have done it more than once, sorry, you’re one of us.

    The obsession is perfection. We want our toes, fingers, skin, surroundings etc. to look perfect (which is all VERY relative!)

    The compulsion is the picking. Feeling a bump on the cheek and scraping with your fingernails until it’s bloody and swollen. Pulling every last hair out of where you think it shouldn’t be on the face or body with tweezers. Overplucking eyebrows. Using clippers and scissors and safety pins and all sorts of sharp objects to cut at the skin around our toes, our cuticles, our heels, etc. I have also at times had beautifully manicured toes and fingernails, but they have never lasted very long.

    I do not think any of us on trying to mutilate ourselves. We are trying to perfect ourselves and overdo it (a lot of times when we are stressed or over or understimulated) to the point where we damage our bodies (sometimes permanently).

    The reason we feel “in a trance” is because we are acting out our obsession with the compulsion. We are giving in to a chemical imbalance in our brains. So we are not “conscious” fully, like we are when we manage to avoid these self destructive habits.

    OCD is treated with therapy as well as certain meds. SSRI’s like Prozac and Zoloft have indications for OCD. They work a lot better for me than any of the other antidepressants like Wellbutrin or Cymbalta that are NOT indicated for OCD and anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Valium and the like have side effects that can be quite debilitating, like sleepiness and likelihood of abuse or addiction.

    If it becomes debilitating (as in your feet are hurting, bandaged or bloody from these acts!) it is time to talk to a doctor and get real help! It’s common and there is nothing to be embarrassed about.

  32. tiffany

    Thanks so much for the response. I probably will get help because I constantly do it where blood is pouring. Thanks again.

  33. Laura

    I’ve only just thought to google this “habit” of mine, even though I’ve had it for years…I’ve chewed the skin on my fingers (right down to the first joint) for years, and can remember when I started to pick at my feet as well — in my final year of high school, when I first started to feel real pressure. Since then, I will chew and pick my heels and fingers until they bleed, and am in constant pain. I stopped recently — while I was travelling, not working, which has definitely linked it back to stress for me (I am a lawyer).

    The reason I only thought to google it now is that I recently found out I wasn’t the ONLY person in the world who, as a child, thumped their head up and down on the pillow to help themselves get to sleep (I say “as a child”, but I only stopped when I moved out of home, and I regress when I’m tired or stressed…I did it last night to get to sleep when my partner was out!). My family thought the same thing until one day, my sister found out that her best friend had done the same thing! Once I googled it, I found out that it is called “rhythmic movement disorder”, and I’m not the only one! So I thought that maybe, just maybe, I’m not the only one to chew/pick at themselves.

    However, now I’m worried that I may have highly OCD tendencies, when you compound the two “quirks” above that I have…

  34. AMcIntyre

    I am so happy to find this site. It seems that I have been picking my feet forever and now pull off the baby toenail because it seems to bother me. When I was 14 I had a plantar’s wart on the bottom of my foot which enhanced my obsession. I “operated” on that for a long time until I finally dug it out. Last year I bought one of those foot scraper’s and really screwed up my feet. Razor blades are incredible for removing callouses etc.

    It is all very disgusting but there are worse things.

  35. gina

    I totally do this too! Its an aweful habit, and i found that it truely does get worse with stress and IS the constant need to perfect whatever hangnail or rough thick edge i can feel. I touch my feet unconsciously and once i feel an imperfect i have to get rid of it, only i take it way too far and peel practically everything off. My hands dont wander as much when I’m focused on something else, my husband is overseas in the military and when he comes home time passes and i notice my feet and hands look great. I’ve found that using a pumice stone or even a nail filer to smothen the skin works for me because there are no imperfections to pick off, but EVERY imperfection has to be gone and my skin has to be PERFECTLY smooth in order for it to work well for me. I’ll sit there filing my skin, and my husband actually let me file his too because he hates how rough edges feel too.

  36. claire

    Whilst reading this post im sat here picking and biting. I think it is a nervous disorder, it drives my other half crazy! We talked about getting married but i would be mortified if he proposed and put a ring on my finger with them in this state, and even that thought does not make me stop! I used to bite my nails but stopped? So i have lovely long nails with red sores around them! This website has really helped, and i do think i do it to make them smooth? I do it at work and whilst im watching the tv.

  37. e

    I applaud pseudonym for blogging about this. I thought I was the only one too. It’s good to know there are others out there.

    I picked my feet when I was a child and off and on in my adulthood. I’m currently in the middle right now and maybe now I can try to stop again. Thanks!

  38. Minnie

    Ouch!! I have this terrible habit also. I have searched several times for others, words of advice. Glad to read some of your experiences.
    I routinely, every night, pick-trim-file…my nails and fingertips which become calloused over time. Its a vicious cycle. Use cuticle trimmers, nail clippers, tweezers and nail file, the rough black kind which I believe is made for filing acrylic nails. I can’t stop this awful habit!!!??!!
    What drives me to do it is— the callous feeling , or lack of feeling, at the tops of my fingers. And, this annoying feeling of toughened skin underneath the nail…sort of like it would feel to have wax or even glue dried under your nails.
    This is a problem! I am always hiding my hands…embarrassing. I catch people looking at them at times.
    How can I stop? Any product that would help the callousing- so i can let them heal but avoid the hardening which makes me peel, pick, trim, file….etc. A lotion that would slow the callousing…like one that contains glycolic acid or the like?
    If you have thoughts, suggestions, experiences, I would like to hear them.

    • Kathryn

      Use one of those metal diamond nail files and file off the dead skin when it gets hard instead of biting it. Also using a nail brush in the shower to soften and smooth that skin may reduce the roughness that prompts you to pick. Picking is definitely a tormenting habit! It’s like an alcoholic- you can’t even take one “pick” because it starts it up all over again.

      • I second Kathryn’s recommendation: use a diamancel #10 foot buffer to offset the picking. I can’t believe I didn’t think to post that recommendation before. Thank you, Kathryn!

  39. Maranda

    I have been biting the skin off of my fingers for years now (I am now 28). I have never been able to stop. I was voted #1 worry-wort in grade school. I am a little OCD with light switches and I think that this just manifests itself with my hands.

  40. Just

    OMG!! I am going thru the same thing. I never knew I had OCD. Wow

  41. Stephanie

    omg!!! i do this too..just not the foot part…i think i just do it at random times, or when my brain is in a very pensive state of mind and as i do that i only see my thoughts, like in a trance. ive tried to stop, seeing as my friend did and she told me it would eventually go away.But to be truthfull, it hasnt. And yes, i do have a very stressful life, with 3 near death experiences, and an operation…ugh…but i have myasthenia gravis…tough one huh?
    Well ive tried very hard to stop and i can go months if i have a manicure-because instead i bite the nails- but after the nails are gone, i start again…even if i bleed i cant stop and i want to do it even more, if anything helps, its just reading or keeping my mind busy most of the time….HELP!!!

  42. Samantha Moore

    I find that taking a few hits of marijuana keeps my mind off my toe picking.

    • Amy Garton

      I agree with you Samantha, many ignorant people say smoking weed is bad but who are they to say what is bad for each individual person. I usually pick my toes until they are bleeding and I can’t even walk on my carpet without a bandage 😦 When i smoke some weed, I am able to focus on other things, mainly aesthetically appealing forms of art such as music, and I don’t need to tear my toes to pieces.

  43. KML

    Play-doh works for me. Thank god, too, cause i wouldve peeled/bitten all the skin off my body by now!

  44. a mom

    I have a 3 1/2 year old boy who has bitten his fingernails for about a year and recently started biting his fingers until they bleed. About a week ago he started doing this to his toes too and his two big toes have dried blood around him. I think it is tied to stress, since he likes to watch super hero shows with his big brother (which are not allowed) and I have noticed when a show is frightening him, even kids shows have a villain, he is vigorously gnawing on his toe.

    I have kept after him about this but after reading this blog I think I will stop. He loves playdough so I will try that and try more exercise and love and attention. He is the middle of three boys so he has never really had undivided attention.

    If anyone can think of anything to help me treat this I would appreciate it. He is a very sweet, loving and boisterous little boy and I don’t want to see him hurt himself anymore.

  45. Partis

    Wow..I’m the exact same way. Can’t wear cute sandals in the summer, fearing someone may see the sides of my raw is indeed a bad habit, but to be honest, there is satisfaction in doing so.. I’m in total shock when I look down to see a pile of raw dead skin on the ground. The worst is when my feet are wet and the skin is visible and soft..I go crazy with the picking! My feet are left sore, red and raw. I can pick for hours; in fact, its one of the first things ill do after work. I’m suffering, and as great as the thought of stopping sounds, it won’t anytime soon.

  46. bahhhh

    me toooooooo…. my toes are completely raw. i’m typing this from work. i can’t even stop when i’m here! so bad in the summer with sandal season.

    maybe someday i’ll stop?

  47. Sherry

    This stream of entries almost makes me cry. I am having a hard time walking right now due to peeling the skin on my feet. I have done this for over 10 years.

  48. Kathryn

    My problem is that I pick at the sides of my toes and fingers. I dig down into the sides and try to “even up” the edges. It is tormenting. Sometimes I have to just say “Enough!” to bring myself out of the trance. It’s like picking relaxes me or something. One thing that has helped is to use a nail brush to scrub down into the sides and clean my nails really well, then I won’t want to disturb this “clean state”. Also if I use a shower file on the dry skin it takes care of what I would have picked. And use a good lotion. I have picked so bad that my toe swelled, and pus came out of the side of the nail. I even walked with a limp until it healed. Gross, huh? Truth is stranger than fiction, for sure.

  49. A friend of mine recommended using a foot buffer, and being the beauty expert that she is, recommended the Diamancel #10 foot buffer/scrubber. It rrrrreally helps and best of all, now I have smooth feet! It’s not a perfect solution but so far, it’s been the most helpful thus far. Hope this helps (this is not an advert, my personal recommendation).

  50. Michelle

    Omg! I am glad I am not the only one. I had been doing this for years! I am so embarrassed because my fingers are so swollen and bleeding, I can’t seem to stop. I do most when I am not doing anything, like watching tv or in front of a computer. My husband or friends would slap my hands when they see me doing it. Sometimes, I am not even aware I am doing it.

    Is there a name for this? I haven’t been diagnosed with anything. I tried everything. Putting lotion on, only delays the picking. I even put oil on, nothing helps. I want to stop.

  51. renee

    ACRYLLIC NAILS are the solution. They are blunt-edged and you can not pick with them. Your hands and feet will clear up in days 🙂 I put band aids on my fingers for a week until they healed enough so that I was not embarrassed in the salon.

  52. Hmmmmm

    My 13 yr old foster son just started biting his fingers until they bleed and also licking the palms of his hands and his fingers…I have been doing a lot of research and this can also be a symptom of Apserger’s/Autism, which he has, but just a little bit, enough so everyone thinks it’s OCD. He has other strange habits and has been diagnosed with ADD and OCD and PTSD, and a little bit of Autism. So this may be a route for some of you to look into, especially since some of you have been doing this since you were kids. I also believe stress/anxiety, abuse issues, and other things play into this, too, and I will continue to look into this until I can help my foster son. It hurts me when he hurts himself. This forum has helped me understand some of the reasons he may be doing this, though, because he can’t tell me, and I appreciate all of you that have shared your difficult stories. Thanks and I wish you all the best of luck with this terribly painful problem.

  53. Ema

    Omg me too, I pick on my fingers all the time when I’m bored, nervous and annoyed, I’m Only 13 and I started since I was 5 , I have ugly fingers too and I used to bite my miles a while back, I’ve had lots of bad habits like when I was 7 I used to pick my eyebrows off,,… I know it’s weird but I couldn’t help it I also pick on my foot but not as much as my fingers

  54. anne marie

    I have recently started picking the skin on my fingertips (at age 50), also constantly breaking my nails, I may have done this as a child but cannot remember, I have been breaking my nails (not biting) for many years. My fingertips are so sore now and bleed also. I know that I have been very stressed and anxious due to a relationship breakdown 6 months ago and believe this is causing me to constantly pick my fingertip skin. I did not realise until reading this blog tonight that it may be a form of OCD which a member of my family also suffers from in a different form. I would love to find a solution to this problem as it is so embarrising. Thanks for all the suggestions.

  55. theresa

    Me too! Am I nuts? I used to pick my calluses on my feet as well as bite my nails. I still pick at my toenails when they get long but stopped when it hurt to walk. My fingernails are history. I wait a bit until the five I target get lumpy then start again. It doesn’t matter if I bleed or it hurts. The rough piece must go. I’ve bled all over my bed. It hurts for two or more days
    What the hell! What’s wrong with me. I’m embarrassed to pay someone at the cash register.

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