Is my daughter’s skin-picking a sign of a more serious problem?

Ask the Expert: She found lockdown difficult and it seemed to knock her confidence

“The teacher took her aside and asked was everything okay and whether she was self-harming.” Photograph: iStock

“The teacher took her aside and asked was everything okay and whether she was self-harming.” Photograph: iStock

Question: My 14-year-old girl is a relatively self-confident, bright and emotionally intelligent teenager, but she has tended for some years to pick a bit at her skin when anxious. This sometimes leaves noticeable cuts around her thumbnails and on hands and legs. At times she picks obsessively at spots also.

She has had a lot going on recently. She found lockdown and being off school for six months difficult and it seemed to knock her confidence. Since being back in school she has had a falling-out with a friend and struggled a bit finding her social group. Also, a teacher noticed her fingers as she handed up work this week. I noticed them myself. She has picked the skin all around her thumbs.

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