Preventing Infection in Seniors with Skin Picking Disorder

September 23, 2016

Senior Care in Westchester NY

October 1 through 5 is Trichotillomania, Skin Picking, and Related BFRB Awareness Week. This week is the ideal time for you to understand the issues that are related to Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, or BFRBs, and how you can help to protect your elderly parent from the damage that these issues can cause. One of the most common BFRBs is skin picking. This is a compulsion or urge to rub, scratch, pick, or dig at the skin. It can cause very serious damage to the skin, and make your parent vulnerable to serious infections that can threaten their health and wellbeing.

Preventing infection is vital to protecting your elderly loved one and keeping them healthy and comfortable, as well as avoiding mental and emotional health consequences such as shame and embarrassment due to scars that can worsen due to the infection. Fortunately there are ways that you can help to protect your parent from infection as you are working with them to reduce or eliminate their picking behavior.


Use these tips to prevent infection in seniors with skin picking disorder:

Keep their nails short and clean. Your parent’s fingernails are generally what causes the damage to their skin when they are picking. Keeping their nails short and smooth can help to prevent or lessen this damage, reducing the chances of them suffering an infection. It is also important to keep their fingernails clean to lessen the germs, bacteria, and other contaminants that could get into openings in the skin and cause infection.

Keep the skin clean. Bathing regularly will help to keep the bacteria and germs on the skin controlled, further reducing the chances that they will develop into an infection if damage results from the picking. It is also important to make sure that your loved one is caring for their skin in such a way that keeps it soft, moisturized, and comfortable to further reduce the compulsion to pick. Add moisture to the skin with a non-irritating moisturizer.

Treat wounds promptly. If your elderly parent does damage their skin with their picking or scratching, or other damage occurs such as by a bite, scratch, or cut, be sure to treat this wound promptly. Use an antibacterial gel or cream to treat the wound in the skin, and then cover it lightly. This will not only give the wound a chance to heal, but it can help to prevent further picking.


If your aging parent has been exhibiting skin picking behaviors, now may be the ideal time for you to consider starting senior care for them. Having a senior home care services provider in the home with your parent can help them to take care of their skin, avoid their behaviors, and engage in a more active and fulfilling lifestyle that can lessen their compulsions and improve their mental and emotional health. Together these efforts can guard your loved one from infections and keep them healthier and happier as they age in place.


If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Westchester, NY, contact Star One Home Care and Medical Staffing at 718-733-2222 or 914-362-0899.  Call today!

Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA

Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA

Director of Client Services at Star One Home Care
Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA is Director of Client Services & Director of Phoenix Nurse Aide Training Center. Before assuming the post in 2012, Patricia was the Director or Nursing & Service Delivery at WRC for 3 years where she was the strategic lead for nursing and services to members.

Patricia started her nursing career 19 years ago at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and research institution in New York City, and since then has gained experience in Adult Intensive Care Units (ICU) , Pediatric Care (PICU ), Operating Room (OR) , mental health and community settings. She later moved into director of nursing roles, where she obtained extensive experience in leading and developing the nursing profession. She also pioneered good partnership working with other health care organizations, as well as social services, and the wider community.
Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA

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