I Pick, Therefore I Am

Last updated: November 2018

I’ve been a picker since I can remember. My mother was always swatting at my hands. I don’t bite my nails, I pick. Picking at the skin along the nail beds is my jam, even now well into adulthood. I found picking at the scabby skin behind my right ear and in back of my head equally satisfying, even when it hurt.

Stress is a major trigger for my skin and picking

I still find myself picking during high-stress times. Much to my poor body’s chagrin, I now have nails to contend with. Though, this wasn’t always the case.

Once upon a time, I didn’t have nails, because I picked at them. I couldn’t truly peel off the hidden burning patches of hardened skin that were well-hidden beneath my curls. But I could pick at my nails and nailbed.

The perfect picking and itching tools

Around the time that my GI and skin issues emerged and perplexed many doctors, my mother took her angsty teen to a beauty school for her first set of nails. Mom’s theory was that by putting the fake nails on they would help the natural nail grow out and possibly get me to stop picking.

“Ennnnnnnh!” Wrong answer.

She got an A for effort though. An entire decade would have to pass before I was gifted with a Crohn’s disease diagnosis. While another seven years would need to pass before psoriasis was finally called out by a care provider who doesn’t primarily work on skin. How sad.

Back to the matter at hand, itchy teen me got gifted with claws!

Mom meant well, though. After all, it was a high-stress time and I was picking a lot. I doubt she realized I was picking at the scabs on my scalp until they would bleed. I had dark, thick long ringlets of hair covering them. [I still do, just my hair is not as dark or thick.] It never occurred to either of us that these new, permanent claws would be the perfect picking and itching tools.

The struggle is real

Over the years, I’ve kept up these claws. I tried to go without them for a few months at a time to see if I could grow them out. But chronic illnesses like psoriasis and Crohn’s disease have made it hard to grow strong nails.

These days I go to the nail salon for two reasons, self-care, and protection. The nail tech I’ve gone to for the past ten years has done her best at protecting me from my nails, as well as my nails from me. In the end, though, the hardest part for me is to not use my nails to try to satiate the deep burning itch that lurks beneath my skin. The struggle is real.

Even after all these years, I’m still guilty of picking at the skin on the side of the nail beds. But at least I’m not scratching my skin raw and ripping off chunks of scalp and hair, right?

I pick, therefore I am.

Have you struggled with not picking at your psoriasis plaques?

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