How to stop Picking Scabs-Disorder & Eating

One of the poor habits you may find yourself into is scab picking. Although it occurs in both men and women, women are found to pick their skin more often. This article discusses skin picking disorder, whether it is recommended, why people pick scabs and eat them, how to stop picking scabs and possible ways to heal scabs once you have picked them.

What is scab picking disorder

Scab picking disorder is the condition which is described as habitual picking of your skin. This disorder is considered to be a mental health condition closely related to obsessive compulsive disorder. If you have this disorder, you will pick your skin several times a day.


Should you pick scabs-Is it recommended?

When you are injured and the wound is dried up, it forms a scab. The scab is mostly unattractive and you will more often than not have the urge to pick it. Picking of scabs is highly discouraged. This is because, picking of the scab reopens an old wound that was almost totally healed.

Scabs seal the wound facilitating faster healing. When you remove the scab by picking, you expose the wound once more and the healing process starts all over again. This means the wound will take a very long time before it is completely healed.

It is therefore not recommended to pick scabs since scabs are meant to be a protective layer. When you remove the protective layer, the wound is exposed to infections. This may make the condition of the wound worse and you will be forced to go for antibiotics from your doctor.

Skin picking disorder
Skin picking disorder

Dr.Marc Glashofer , a board certified skin cancer surgeon and dermatologist explains that, scabs stop a clot from bleeding and act as a  protective layer which allows for growth of new skin.

When you pick your scab prematurely, you expose your skin to formation of a scar. In case you pick your scab and a scar forms, you are advised to treat the scar as soon as you realize that it has formed. This minimizes the risk of staying with the scar for long periods.

If you pick your scab and then you realize that it turns red, oozes pus and becomes puffy, it is an indication that the scab is infected. To avoid any complications, always allow the scab to fall off without picking it.

Why do people pick scabs and Eat them?

Reasons people pick scabs

Different reasons have been identified for picking scabs. Some of the reasons are highlighted below;


When you are bored and there is a scab in any part of your skin, you will find yourself picking the scab. It acts like an activity to keep you busy when you have nothing to do. It is quite difficult to find yourself picking scabs if you are busy throughout the day.


When the skin around the scab is itchy, you will most likely be tempted to pick the scab.

When you are stressed

If picking the scab relieves you of stress, it becomes a habit. Every time you are stressed, you will definitely go for scab.


Picking of the scab is described as repetitive self-grooming. It is classified as Body -Focused Repetitive Behavior.

Obsessive compulsive disorder

If you have been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, you will experience an urge to get yourself into repetitive behavior. An example of the repetitive behavior is scab picking.[1]

Why some eat them

If you find yourself eating scabs you may need to see a doctor. This however does not mean that eating scabs makes you abnormal.  In some cases, people who eat scabs may have a condition referred to as Pica. This is the name given to the condition where you have a constant urge to eat non-food substances.

You may also be picking and eating scabs as a result of a psychological issue. Eating scabs is generally described as a bad habit. Whichever the underlying cause, it is advisable to seek medical attention. A therapist, for instance, will help you distinguish between pica and dermatillomania.  It will only be easier to stop eating scabs once you know why exactly you eat them.

How to stop picking scabs

Even though picking scabs is a habit which is very difficult to get rid of, below are some ways that will be helpful if you intend to stop picking scabs;

Step1.Treating your scabs

One of the easiest ways to stop picking scabs is by treating the scabs. This means the wound will take a shorter time to heal and you will not have to stand the scabs for long. To treat the wound, you will need to do the following;

  • Disinfect the wound. This involves cleaning the wound as soon as you get the injury. This is important to prevent any possible infections and possible bacteria and dirt accumulation.
  • Protect the scab. As already mentioned, scabs protect the wound. The scabs keep germs away from the wound. When scabs are protected, there is a less likelihood of scarring.
  • Be proactive. You are advised to use healthy products to always cleanse your skin. The products you choose to use should not cause any blemishes.

Step2. Break the habit

Picking scabs is a habit and it can be done away with. Below are ways that will help you getting over the habit of picking scabs;

  • Examine yourself. The first step towards getting rid of scabs is studying to determine the root cause of the habit of picking scabs. Every time you catch yourself picking the scab, you are advised to write it down. That is the easiest way to discover the underlying cause of picking scabs.
  • Establish coping skills. Once you have determined the main reason you pick scabs, come up with strategies that will help you avoid the temptation to pick the scabs. Focus on things that divert your attention.
  • Challenge yourself to break the habit. You can put effort in ensuring you break the habit. If you purpose to stop picking scabs, you can work towards that goal.
  • Make picking of scabs difficult. In case the scabs are on your hands or legs, wear long sleeved pants and long sleeved shirts or tops. This makes it hard for you to reach for the scab hence reducing the urge to pick the scabs.
  • Try positive affirmation. Sometimes, you only need to remind yourself that you love yourself so much to hurt yourself. Anytime you catch yourself trying to pick the scabs, rub the area with the scab and remind yourself that picking your scab is not the right thing.

Step3. Seek medical help

Sometimes, picking of scabs can get out of hand. If you have tried all the above ways and you still cannot stop picking your scab, it is advisable to see your doctor. The following guidelines will be helpful;

  • Determine the problem. Once you recognize that picking of the scabs is a disorder, seeking medical assistance will be helpful.
  • Get medical prescription. Scabs may be caused by inflammation or irritations. Your doctor may then prescribe you with corticosteroids or topical creams.

You must however remember that the medication prescribed will only treat the underlying cause of picking of the scabs and not your habit of picking scabs. You will need to implement the other tips above along with the medication.

You could also try psychological treatment. The most common treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It is used to replace bad habits with good habits. One of the forms of CBT is Habit Reversal Training. It helps you identify situations which you are likely to pick scabs and hence you avoid such behavior.

How to heal scabs from picking

There are several ways to heal scabs once you have picked them. Below are some of the ways;

  • To facilitate healing of the scabs, wash the scab through a light motion. You are advised to use a gentle cleanser and clean warm water. When your skin is well moisturized, faster healing is promoted. Maintaining a clean environment around the scab you have picked already prevents possibility of dirt accumulation and the likelihood of any infection.
  • Always keep the area around the picked scab dry by patting it dry following any washing. However, do not allow it to be extremely dry so that you reduce the possibility of the scab ripping off. This will promote quicker healing.
  • When you pick the scab, it means you leave it exposed. To cover it again, you can cover it using a bandage following the cleaning and drying as guided above. You must ensure that the dressing used is sterilized. Where a bandage is used, it should be non-adhesive. Covering scabs not only keeps them moisturized but also protected from any possible infections.
  • Where the scabs have worsened following picking, you are advised to seek medical attention. This is necessary so that the doctor establishes any possibility that the scabs are infected.
  • You can use essential oils to heal the scab you have picked. An example is use of Aloe Vera oil in its most natural form. It not only speeds up the healing process but it also protects you from the possibility of further infections of the exposed skin.



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