Those who know me from meatspace may know that I am seldom without a Band-Aid on one of my fingers. Some of you have asked me about this over the years, and I’ve always responded something like “I have really dry cuticles and I pick them.”
That’s always been a bit of a euphemism. Yes, I do pick at my fingers–but it’s worse than that. What follows is really TMI for a lot of people, but hang in with me.
I pick the skin off four of my fingers. Or I chew it off. I’ve never chewed my nails–that sounds almost civilized in comparison. This has been a problem for pretty much my entire life. It’s a nervous habit (my other one is bouncing my foot, which is a lot less of a problem), probably a kind of OCD, or perhaps pica. The Band-Aids both cover the raw spots and prevent further damage. I also often fidget with the Band-Aids. Honestly, I’m rarely even conscious I’m doing it. My husband will often catch me and say “stop it!” and I’ll guiltily make motions like I wasn’t really picking my fingers…..
Here’s the deal, though: With all of the emphasis on not touching my face, with all of the handwashing, with using hand cream because of dryness…
I have almost completely stopped. I am now much more conscious of what I am doing with my fingers, and I stop myself every time they get anywhere near my mouth. I also am trying to avoid Band-Aids, thinking they’re likely germ traps. I don’t think I’ve had a Band-Aid on in close to a month. I am still picking a bit at the skin, but as the rough bits heal up, that compulsion is disappearing.
I took a picture of my right hand today. The fingers I regularly mangle are my thumb, index, and middle fingers. Still a little red, still a couple of spots of peeling….but wow.
This is a Good Thing. I have always been terribly ashamed at this habit, but could never seem to figure out how to stop. And now it looks like I might be on my way.
Is this going to make me suddenly a devotee of nail polish and manicures? Nah–can’t see that; just not my kind of pampering. But the next time (if ever) I shake someone’s hand, maybe I’m not going to worry what they think about my mangled fingers.