Why do I get a thrill out of washing my hands in painfully hot water?
May 17, 2014 2:18 PM Subscribe
I have a habit of washing my hands in incredibly hot water. Not painfully hot to start, but increasingly hot, in a boiling-frog
sense. There's something about the sensation that goes beyond "soothing" (like one gets from a garden-variety hot shower) and into the territory of a mild high — or at least the best itch that's ever been scratched.
posted by unauthorized.cinnamon to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'll start with warm or lukewarm water, and keep my hands under the stream as the temperature rises — well beyond the level that would have felt too hot to stand, had the water started at that temperature. Along the way I'll often tell myself I shouldn't be doing it, that I should stop, but the sensation practically puts me in a fugue state, and I end up seeing just how hot I can let the water get before I pull my now-quite-red hands away in pain/pleasure.
I guess my question is part "Is this normal / shared by anyone else," part "Why do I enjoy this," and part "What do I do about it?"
I know it's not good for me — it dries out my already-sensitive skin, exacerbates my existing eczema, and I've even heard that it can lead to long term issues (nerve damage and/or a weakened epidermis). As I've become more self-aware about this, I've tried to stick to cold water when I wash my hands, so I'm not tempted to do it... but even then sometimes the water will start warming up and I'll lose myself for a bit. And boy is it good (if temporary) stress relief during a rough day. But behind that, is it some kind of self-sabotage / self-destructive urge? A fetish? Sufficient grounds for getting professional help? (I deal with some mild anxiety, but no real experience with therapy.) Or should I just accept that it's a weird thing I do, and keep plugging away at kicking the habit?