Dad rubbing his face


Registered User
Nov 18, 2006
This is about my dad.

He keeps rubbing his face, sometimes it's red and inflamed. Also his got some small cuts on his face from getting scratched by branches in the garden, he won't leave them alone and keeps picking the scabs, thinking he can heal them faster. No amount of persuading will stop him from doing this.
Apart from this he is quite stable, and seems to be fairly content, I just can't stop him picking at his face.

He's terrified of doctors, so there's no way he would ever see one again. No amount of reassurance or explaining that he is hurting himself works. I feel completely helpless.


Registered User
Jul 2, 2006
Newport, Gwent
Hi Kenny

Would dad accept the nurse calling in to see him on some pretext or other. I think I would be worried he could be introducing an infection into his face. I’m sure if you popped into the surgery and had a word with the nurse and explained the situation, she could come up with something, even if it was to advise you what to put on his face.

I’m no expert, but could this be a sign of agitation.

Best wishes



Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I was going to post this early on , but thought no .

But hear go

When my Son was 13 , he told his sister who was 8 at the time to pick the the scabs on her face , because it would heal better :eek: she was hit by a car , she landed on her face , she did keep picking them ( till she told me what my son told her ) they did heal , but left scares .

It could be hurting him or is itchy and his not sure where about the pain itch is coming from so keep rubbing it his face or just have dry skin, if the rubbing started before he scratched himself . good cream for healing scabs/ scares ( as scares when healing do itch when they start to have scabs that why some people pick them because they itch ) is coco butter , it has a brand name but can't remember the name . (Not the supermarket brand one )

also help with any dryness he may have on his face ,

But I would still also go with what Cate said
a word with the nurse and explained the situation, she could come up with something,
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Registered User
Apr 15, 2007
No amount of persuading will stop him from doing this.

Hi Kenny,Sorry I can't give you any advise but a lady at the carer support group I attend is having similiar problems with her hubby, he won't stop shaving and his face is a real mess, he has a appointment with his geriatrician this week and I see her to-morrow at the group, so I will ask her how they went and will let you know.Hopefully some good advice. (Fingers crossed) Taffy.


Registered User
Mar 21, 2003

I've also noticed this and think it is down to combination of agitation and the compulsive obsessive disorder that sometimes creep in with alzhiemer's - sure that we had a few threads mentions that the same part of the brain that is affected be COD. So this kind of habits is not that unusual along with plenty of other compulsive habits.

I can only suggest getting some professional advice regarding the redness and secondly keeping the nails short neat to avoid too much scratching. A doctor may be able to at least suggest antihistamine creams to help with the itching.

A distraction may also help. If your father has something else to do with his hands it may help to keep his hands away from the face - stress ball etc or something he is happy to scratch.

Not much help, but I'd be very interested if you get and other advice/feedback. Will also ask if they have any other ideas when I pop in and see dad tonight - the care home staff seem to know lots of tricks.

Kind Regards


Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
sore face

Mum has been picking at two sore places on her face for a couple of weeks now. Both myself and the girls at the care home are trying to tell her to let them heal but of course she forgets. She thinks they are food or something stuck near her lips and scratches them. I've shown her them in the mirror and so on but of course she can't remember.
Today I saw your posts so I tried:
a cuddly toy on her lap (and one on mine) to stroke. She forgot hers and put it down.
watching TV together in her room so we could be rude about the Ascot hats.
eating a chocolate or two
packing/unpacking the handbag
watching the gardener spread bark on a flower bed

Nothing actually stopped her fingers scrabbling away and her asking me when the sore bits would go away.
I saw an advert for a spray on dressing which described the product as being like an invisible plaster. But I think I've had that on in hospital once and its tempting to pick at the coating it leaves on the skin.
Any other ideas please?!


Registered User
Jan 8, 2007
hi i agree with craig about ocd mam will pick the skin around her fingernails until they are red raw and inflamed, each time i see her doing it i gently pull her hands apart, but within minutes shes doing it again, even when they,ve been dressed she takes the plasters off to pick again. wish i could be of more help but it is something we are still trying to solve

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Just a shot in the dark, as I`ve no experience of this problem, but does anyone think `worry beads` might help?


Registered User
Jul 13, 2005
I did actually take Mary to the doctors as she does this too. They gave me some aquaeous cream for her, its apparantly because the skin becomes naturally dry and thin the older you get.

Mary goes through stages, picking bits of her face, and her legs, too. I keep telling her to leave her legs alone before they get ulcerated, but no luck. Most of it is boredom I think. I've threatened her with the biggest pair of scratch mits I can find!!!!!!!:)


Registered User
Apr 15, 2007
The Feedback.

Hi Kenny,I spoke with the lady from the group and Craigs reply echoed what the geriatrician said to her, about her hubby,she was also advised to use sorbolene cream. Best Wishes. Taffy.