Excessive Scratching?

I’ve read that it is of grave matter to engage in excessive risky behavior. What constitutes excessive scratching of pimples/scalp scabs/non-itchy eczema in this regard? These are risky behaviors as they can lead to serious infections, but not as risky as smoking or excessive drinking so I was wondering what the standards for this might be? (I want to leave talking about myself specifically out of the conversation please.)

If a person is scratching or picking to the point where there’s a lot of bleeding and a good chance of having an infection, I would think of it as an act of self-harm. The exact line is hard to say. Obviously, this is not popping zits and picking at dry scabs like kids would do.

However, most people don’t pick at their skin excessively without some sort of underlying reason.

Like all mortal sins, not only must it be of grave matter but there has to be full knowledge and consent. For example, someone suffering from OCD which causes them to compulsively pick their skin might not have full consent.

I think that for many people excessive scratching in your examples may be an obsessive compulsion…they may not even realize they’re doing it. It wouldn’t even be sinful at all

I think it’s more likely to be a violation of ordinary prudence than a sin, per se.

You can have a bad habit, weakness, or vice without it actually being a sin. That doesn’t mean you should keep doing it.

For example, say I’m a heedless sort of person, and I often cross the street without looking. Let’s say it’s only a moderately busy street, and usually I can get away with it. It’s not a sin and it’s not illegal jaywalking where I’m doing it.

But it’s a very bad, imprudent habit! Maybe nothing happens for a thousand times, but the thousand and first time?

Also, people should be treating themselves at least as well as they’d treat their dog. If you wouldn’t sit there and pick at your dog’s skin problems, you shouldn’t do it to your own.


If a person finds themselves scratching or picking at their skin, it’s usually the result of an unconscious compulsion. Even if they are actively aware of it there’s a chance they just do it without really thinking about it. Unless they’re mutilating themselves I doubt it’d be considered sinful. As others have said, it’s a bit imprudent, and it’s a habit that you should probably try to get over; but as someone who does compulsively pick at stuff on my skin (which drive my wife bonkers >_>) I can say that I honestly don’t even think about it, I just sort of do it.

I can’t really think of an instance where it would be considered a sin, especially not a grave one, unless you’re scratching in the hopes of literally digging through your skin to cause excessive blood loss…

It’s not grave matter
It’s generally done unconsciously.
It is definitely not given full consent.

Three strikes, no grave sin.

I was only asking when it would become of grave matter and was only referring to those instances when full consent is given, which I know is possible, however uncommon.

No it would not be grave matter. Excessive scratching and picking skin and scabs is a medical disorder.

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