Why is my mother constantly picking at her tongue and skin?

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My mother picks at her skin (mainly her arm's) until she has caused herself to bleed. She has caused deep scars on her arms from this. I have been keeping her nails clipped short as possible, I also bandage her arms, but she takes the bandage off as soon as I put it on. She just can't stop digging into her skin. Also, she constantly pulls at her tongue until it becomes raw. I try everything to distract her, but she goes right back to pulling and scratching. Any ideas?

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My mom has scared up her face doing this, she puts blisters on her face..My mom has diabetes and doesn't heal so easy. I thinks the medication has something to do with it along with the Alzheimer.
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Problem is, mine does these things and she does NOT have Alzheimer's -- but I am suspecting some form of dementia.
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Does your mom have other things to play with and still do it? We have boxes with odds and ends for my mom, some just random, some things of hers like jewelry, shells, scarves, combs, etc. Did you hear about the twiddle muff? Google it to see various examples. You could make one pretty easily. Don't know if you've already tried these ideas. What about gloves? Maybe experiment with different ways to put them on so the loved one won't/can't get them off?
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This type of OCD behavior seems to have a neurological basis in elderly people with dementia. Getting the person to stop by talking to them about it seems to do no good. It would be a good idea to speak to a neurologist who specializes in geriatric/dementia care to see whether adding or changing medications might help.
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I suspect mental may be correct but who knows. All you can do is try and keep them comfortable. When you have alzheimers, there is no way of knowing unless someone out there knows more than I do. I am open to all suggestions.
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Am I wrong in thinking that this seems to be a "mental" thing more than a "physical" thing?
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I am so happy this has come up. My husband picks at his arms, shoulders and legs until they bleed on his clothes and the chair etc. I bandage and he pulls the tape off and picks some more. We went to the dermatologist and was told to use Citaphl skin restoring moisturizer and bath soap which seems to help. The dermatologist perscribed clobetasol propionate usp 0.05% which can cause the skin to thin so it was suggested after the shower and while the skin iis still moist, mix some of the prescribed medication with lots of the Cetaphl Cream and apply to his skin. It really seems to help. If he picks during the day, I apply a small amount on the area he is picking and it helps. His regular Dr. prescribed fluocinonide ointment, USP 0.05% which I use the same way. When it seems one medicine isn't working good, I use the other one. I have never used both at the same time. My husband did have light treatments for this and he went 3 times a week for about a year. If I didn't shower him as soon as we got hope and apply the lotion and medication, he would itch until he bled. We haven't been to light treatment for about 4 months and he seems to be doing well with just the medicine so for now I will continue what I am doing. He was also given pregnosone (spelling) which lowered his resistance so much he ended up in the hospsital with pneumonia for 3 weeks. The itching did stop with the pregnosone but won't continue that as it is dangerous. I also tried oatmeal baths and soda baths but it didn't help. To stop the itching of the legs, I pull his socks over his pants and this seems to delay the picking as he has to figure out how to get the pant leg out of the sock. Good luck and I will be checking back to see if there are further sugestions.
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There are a couple of threads on here which address this very issue. Is this something new she is doing or has she always been a "picker"? Mine did this to my sibling and I when we were young - I have come to realize it is some form of OCD and part of a personality disorder. She would never leave us alone about our hair, our skin, whatever.
Right now mine will pick at her nose, ears, constantly scratching and picking at her head, her mouth, to the point of making scabs on her face, then she picks at those. I have never heard that it is an "end of life" symptom though.
Well worth mentioning to her doctor......it could be a possible side effect of whatever medications she is taking.
Mine had to pick at every splinter, cut, scab, pimple etc. that we had and boils were her specialty - every ailment had to be treated. The other day I mentioned I had a stomach ache and she told me to take a Tylenol!! (which is NOT for stomach........) She said this because she is addicted to them and who knows how many she takes a day - no wonder she had to go to the hospital once for "renal failure" - those things are hell on liver and kidneys!! Monitor whatever your Mom takes!
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PS: Have no clue about the tongue!
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The feeling of having strings or hairs on the fingers can be neuropathy. When your hand falls asleep and then you get tingles....same kind of thing. But it can also be a compulsion as a result of dementia. My dad has picked the skin on his arms raw. There's always fresh blood on his arms somewhere. My dad is very close to the end of his life and hospice told us that this picking can be a symptom of the end of life process.
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