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Addicted to Picking and Scratching Dandruff

Updated on August 21, 2018


Dandruff is when your scalp sheds dead skin cells. Dandruff affects almost half of the population regardless of race or gender. Some people get dandruff worse than others and it may affect their self-esteem.

Other people, however don't seem to have a big issue with their dandruff and now have problems with what happens when you pick at dandruff spots on your head. For these people it seems to be equal to biting your nails in a form of habit, and this is called dermatillomania.


People with dermatillomania don't just scratch their heads, they pick at their dandruff in clumps, or big patches and it's just like when you bite your nail and the nail comes off. They like to see the white clumps fall off or put them on a black shirt so that it's more easier to see the white dandruff. They can just sit there watching TV and not noticing that minutes or hours have gone by that they are just sitting, and scratching, and picking.

The region most commonly picked is the face, but can also include the arms, legs, back, gums, lips, shoulders, scalp, stomach, chest, and extremities such as the fingernails, cuticles, and toenails. Most people with dermatillomania report having a primary area of the body that they focus their picking on, but they will often move to other areas of the body to allow their primary picking area to heal. Individuals with dermatillomania vary in their picking behavior; some do it briefly multiple times a day while others can do one picking session that can last for hours. The most common way to pick is to use the fingers although a significant minority of people use tools such as tweezers.

Some professionals think that picking and scratching at scalps are because of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and the NEED to pick and scratch at anything.

This is NOT healthy and if you do this you should talk to your primary care physician or a dermatologist about it to get some help. If you continue to pick your head in this manner, you could experience balding issues from picking and scratching so much.

Some people say that if you use a certain dandruff shampoo for awhile that your scalp gets used to it and you should use a different one and see if that helps.

If you don't feel comfortable talking to your doctor about dandruff, think about it this way; would you rather talk to your doctor who has heard about everything under the sun and probably won't be surprised that you have dandruff, or try to do this yourself and possibly go bald or have bald patches? Now hopefully you picked the good doctor. You are not alone. Like I said above, over HALF of the population has dandruff, no doctor will be shocked.

My scalp before treatment. Notice the stray dandruff flakes and redness.
My scalp before treatment. Notice the stray dandruff flakes and redness.

Treatments for You

In getting rid of the dandruff, which would be the case here, would be to see your primary care physician to see what options there are for you. For a start:

Go out and get dandruff shampoo. I like the T-Gel where every few days you wash your hair with that. It doesn't smell as bad as other shampoos. I also switch out shampoos and conditioners every time I go to the store. T-Gel is used every few days in between switching out my regular dandruff shampoo (Head & Shoulders) and another shampoo/conditioner that I picked out. It's really worked for me and my scalp issues.

When you get the urge to pick, stop. Go for a jog, go shopping, do dishes, cook dinner, clean your house, video games, anything to get your mind off of it.

I'm not saying that this will work for you, but it worked for me without having to go to the doctor, or a psychiatrist. Whatever works for you will be for you. Many different things work for many different people. If you want, or your doctor suggests that you should go other routes with your issues regarding your scalp, then go those other routes.

© 2011 Stephanie Pyper


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      7 months ago

      OMG! I have a condition, wow... I have been scratching my scalp since I was 6 or 7 and now I’m 11 and still do it... I sometimes go to my couch because its black and easier to see the dandruff so i would scratch for minutes just sitting there watching the dandruff fall down my head... I once scratched so much that I started bleeding on my scalp... I wish I never had this problem.


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