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Picking at the skin is an obsessive compulsive disorder sometimes, very hard to divert them from doing it, I have found extremely short fingernails combined with extra slippery lotion, like one with a silicone base that stays on for a very long time can slow down or prevent damage to the skin. Sometimes you have to check and treat skin damage and reapply repeatedly throughout the day.....good luck, it is a difficult problem to deal with......hopefully they will get out of that stage soon.
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As a medical social worker, I see this every day. One tactic I use is purchasing toddlers toys for the patients to look at and pick at. Bright, primary colors seem to keep their attention longer. The infant/diaper isle at Wal-Mart has tons to choose from at reasonable prices. The patients enjoy the lights, music, colors and interaction. Try to get one that has a volume control so it doesn't drive you nuts. Soft stuffed animals are also great. The softness and the big, child-like eyes on the animal may help keep them busy and mesmerized for a couple of hours. I know we've all seen patients in their room or common area of a nursing home, just sitting there with the TV blaring or the staff will play todays country music, but softer classical music really does go a long way in soothing their souls.This will work for a while but the habit of picking at sores, their nose, ears and mouth will only get worse as their disease progresses. Many of our patients are also on medication to calm them and ease their agitation levels. This helps to cut down on infection rates. The ladies in my care usually like the above ideas, but not so with the gentlemen. I'm still working on that!
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I have psorisis and it itches. Coconut lotion is good, there is other stuff also. At best, if I have the lotion near me, I can put that on the itch instead of scratching. Consider having pump bottles of soothing lotion at the various places she/he sits. Tell your dad the doctor said to put this lotion on the bumps to help them get better. I like the smell of Tea Tree, and it is a more masculine smell that maybe your dad would like. I also like Lavender which is an anti-inflammatory oil.
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My 91 year old mom "picks". Obviously, old people's skin usually has a lot of little scales, scabby places, etc. to pick at. With my mom, I keep her in loose but long sleeve shirts and long pants, both soft knit. It seems that if she can't feel it, she doesn't pick. I also a good dry skin lotion which I put on her a couple of times a week. It seems to help.
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My mother-in-law feels around her mouth and chin area, finds skin bumps and picks at them all the time. I took her to her doctor who told her they were just thickened skin and were just one of the gifts that old age gives us. When we're in the car together she'll start messing with them, complaining that they itch. I have started putting some hand lotion, I'm using Udder Cream right now, and that seems to soothe the itching (for awhile) at least. She complains that they never used to be there when she was younger, and she's right...kinda. Also I'm having to keep lip balm on her lips constantly since she's picking at them too. Just sitting around in her memory care building with her hand on her face resting, is doing it. They try to keep them all busy too, but you can't keep an old person busy all the time.
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I need to clarify the problem. He sees a dermatologist every three months - has had numerous cancers removed. What he does is run his hands on his legs/arms searching for bumps and then picks at them - usually ending up bleeding. I agree that he is bored. I have tried to put lotion on him, but he considers that to be feminine - I guess it's one of those habits we just have to accept and keep washing! Thanks for the ideas - I didn't know it was another sign of dementia. Bless you all.
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My mom does this sometimes too - I think it's agitation, nerves and a nervous habit more than anything. Try getting her busy with other activities to distract her and put on anti-itch cream - that seems to help my mom.

In dementia units I've seen socks put on hands or mittens used, if they are advanced in their dementia, to ward off intense scratching that can draw blood.
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Please, do not use antibiotics for elderly people without real need! Their immune system is already jeopardized. Even if it seems so innocent, applying antibiotic cream might (WILL!) trigger some side affects. Old people are prone to horrible yeast infection, dermatosis/skin infections and many other conditions.
When you work with this population, the less is best!
Simply keep right humidity in the room, make sure they are busy doing something "productive", use appropriate clothes, clean and moisturize their skin with natural oils (coconut, palm, etc), use natural remedies to sooth and calm them, and make sure your loved one is not depressed/agitated or going through anxiety period. Those issues should be addressed to the doctor.
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Has this been looked at by a doctor? Had an experience with elder itching/scratching and thought it was her renal failure symptoms, turned out to be scabies.
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What kind of bumps? If they are the tiny little raised bumps on top of the skin just make sure the skin is clean, fingernails are short and apply an antibacterial ointment if skin opens. Without seeing the "bumps" I am not sure you can watch a person 24 hours a day. Go see a dermatologist.
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I think it can also come from anxiety and stress...
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It's dementia related and can be symptom of anxiety. Yes, trimming nails helps, wearing long sleeves and long pants helps too. It's hard to prevent them picking on their head, but some people do not mind wearing hats.
Again, some soothing smells can calm your loved one down. Use essential organic oils to diffuse in the room or apply directly to the skin. For some residents in my care it worked. I used lavender, Valor (Young Living Oils), Frankincense, peppermint, etc.
So, be creative! Find what might work for your loved one.
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My grandma would pick her legs into bloody nubs..it was awful. Closely trimmed nails (with pretty polish) helped but ultimately we ended up bandaging whatever area she was picking at. I think boredom was a part of it as well. Maybe crosswords or something to occupy the hands otherwise
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My Mom does this sometimes. I file her nails down very low and very smooth, it helps. Good luck
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Picking at bumps etc on skin, is a sign of Alzheimer's. My mother in law does this do her fingernail beds and forehead until they bleed. . We tried putting a round bandaid on her forhead. It worked for a short time until she took it off. After we had to restart her Celexa for agitation, she seems to do it much less.
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If these are old scars from sun damage and are irregular in shape and itchy and bleeding, have dermatologist check for Melanoma.
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Nit picking, finger staring and chewing motions are often a type of seizure activity. A good Neurologist may be able to help. Get a referral.
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