2 Year Old Obsessively Picking at a Scab

Updated on July 29, 2008
L.N. asks from Mount Vernon, WA
8 answers

I have a two year old daughter who has been picking at a scab on the bridge of her nose now for over 2 months. I don't even know how the original sore was obtained, but she just won't stop. I think it has turned into a habit, and I am at the end of my rope trying to get her to stop.
Has anyone had this obstacle?
I have tried band-aids, I wear one too! But she picks it off.
I have tried lotions, creams, anti-itch, pain relievers, and even mittens. But to no avail.
Please help!!!
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your insight and advice.
We started making her in charge of putting the antibiotic ointment on it each night, which I think put her in charge of the healing. We (all of us around her including grandma) tried not to attract too much attention to her picking at it. And stopped fussing with band aids and ointments more than once a day. And I think that had a lot to do with it. Who knows! But it has healed nicely with no further obsession with the nose area, Yay!!
I really do appreciate the responses, and hope what worked for us might help some other frustrated mom!

More Answers



answers from Portland on

Some people (I'm one of them) have a nervous tic that exhibits as scratching, picking, worrying little skin irregularities with the fingers, even pulling out hairs. Because I have typically sensitive "redhead" skin (this is more common, I hear, among easily-irritated fair skin), my fingers seem to believe they always have important work to do.

It takes tremendous dedication to make myself stop scratching when I get any small skin injury. Keeping busy, doing tasks that involve my hands, and engaging in lots of physical activity are helpful. Boredom, or being unable to move around freely, make the problem worse. You might experiment with dance or other physical exercise in the late afternoon or before bedtime so your darling daughter goes to bed really tired, and see if that helps.

I also tend to pick/scratch more when I feel nervous or anxious (I have been dealing with an anxiety disorder for many years). While I'm old enough now to deal with my own reactions to other people, your daughter isn't. So please try to avoid seeming anxious about her habit, which could make her more likely to do it. When you treat the owie or talk to her about it, try to stay calm and cheerful. Perhaps a touch of humor would be good for you both.

A note on BRIBES:

Bribing is probably never a good idea. You can generally avoid using the phrase, "IF you will _____, then I will _____." You can still reward and positively reinforce with a change of language. Simply substitute, "WHEN you do _____, then I will _____." There is less implication that the child has leeway NOT to behave in the way you need, and a more positive suggestion that your desired behavior will take place. This is especially important if the behavior you desire will have to happen anyway, like taking medicine or getting into her car seat to go home. This approach leaves you free to reward your child even if she fights you while getting her to do what is needed.

This worked wonderfully with my daughter. My expectations remained clear and non-negotiable, and there was plenty of room for her to be a little kid.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We had similar trouble with a sore on my son's cheek. We used the tattoo style bandaids. He was unable to get his finger nails under these (keep them cut short) and liked having the picture on his cheek. The result was he wanted to keep the bandaid long after the sore/scab was gone.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

We had a similar issue with my son. The side of his nose got this nasty scratch and he too picked the scab for atleast 6 months!! We finally got it healed. We found that he was scratching it while he slept and it would bleed every day. What we did was we put neosporin on it every night (for atleast 2 months) with a kid bandaid...his choice (curious george, thomas, diego, etc). It was fun for him and he would even remind us if we forgot. Just tell your daughter she can not touch the bandaid and must leave it in place. Bribe her with something. If you leave your bandaid alone and in place tonight, mommy will do something special (you decide) for you tomorrow. Do that day after day until it's habit for her not to touch it. You should tell her it's very important she wear the bandaid so it'll heal, etc. Explain it to her. Kids are very smart and understand a lot more than we think. Is she picking it at night when she sleeps? If so, make sure she has a blankie or a baby or something in her arms when she goes to sleep so her hands are not as free. Do the same for nap time if she's scratching it then too.
Keep putting the bandaid on every day even after it looks healed. We stopped and my son ended up scratching it back open even though it appeared to be totally healed.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I too had this problem with my now 8 year old. She actually has 2 (very light) small scars. She would just pick and pick. It wasn't at bed time. It was all the time.

The only advice I have for you is to continue putting cream or neosporin on it daily and a bandaid. Even though she takes it off. Try not to put too much attention on it and reward her when she leaves the bandaid on. You can even startin small incruments. After the first hour, give her a small prize and then tell her when she leaves it on longer she'll get something else special.

Hope this helps. I know I was going out of my mind when my daughter did this. But eventually it will stop. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My 8 yo granddaughter has eczema and she is always scratching herself which usually scrapes off the scabs. Recently she has started picking off the scabs and eating them. A new "adventure." Even tho she has scratched off scabs daily the scratches still heal within a week or two. Her scratching the scratches frequently draw blood. Her allergist said to apply neosporin and/or cortizone cream every day when her skin is broken until it heals. This does work.

If you've been treating the sore with an antibiotic cream or hydrocortizone cream and the sore hasn't healed I would wander if the sore its self needs to be looked at by a doctor. Especially to have it looked at if this is the only scab that she continues to pick at.

I also agree that the more attention we pay to any activity that we want stopped such as her picking at a scab the more likely a toddler/child is to continue doing it. They pick up on our anxiety and become anxious themselves.

An example from my own experience is that when I notice that my glasses aren't feeling right that I keep pushing and prodding on them until I realize what I'm doing and stop doing it. I have to tell myself, "stop", several times before I forget about the glasses and then when I realize they feel just fine, if I analyze that feeling, they once more feel uncomfortable. The only difference I've found between my glasses being comfortable and not comfortable is how much attention I pay to them.

I read the suggestions to use NuSkin. I used new skin on my torn hang nails. Having the NuSkin on feels more obvious than having a scab. I pick that off and have to reapply it every day. The benefit for me is that it seals out moisture and bacteria. Band aids get wet and are of little help in healing the sore.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Have you called your Doctor, her Doctor or your nurse advice line?
My experience is that any attention payed to anything at this age amphliphies it ~ sorry about my spelling or lack thereof ~ and makes it bigger. They look to us and whatever we pay attention to must be huge because we are Mommy and pretty much the whole world right then.
Two is a huge spike in all behaviors.
You notice this one so she makes it bigger and more important than it is.
I know this is hard and making you upset.
She mimics how important it is to you 'cuz she is a mirror and more in tune with you than you can imagine.
Best of luck and remember this too shall pass.
Best of luck to you and your oncoming twin tornados. OOOPs spell check doesn't work on this here darn it.
Blessings on your day,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'd try some of the liquid bandaid stuff. I believe it's called Nu Skin... Good luck!



answers from Bellingham on

This sounds like it could turn into an infection or a scar.
Try Nu-skin or another brand of invisible liquid bandage.
It does sting a bit at first, though.