Other Things You Can Do
There are a variety of measures you can take to help prevent skin picking. These include:
- Keep busy engage in positive and meaningful activities that keep your hands and mind busy. This will distract you from feeling the desire to pick at your skin.
- Fidget toys can be great tools to prevent mindless picking. A fidget toy can be anything from a rubber ball to a Rubiks cube.
- Wear clothing that covers the area you usually pick at. This will act as a barrier to prevent picking. If you suffer from Excoriation Disorder or are caring for someone who does, make sure you carefully consider the material of their clothes. Sticking to eczema-friendly fabrics, like silk and cotton, and avoiding wool or other rough fabrics, can help to prevent itching and therefore lessen the tendency to pick at skin, rashes, or spots.
- Wear gloves or eczema mitts that will gently restrain your hands . This will stop you from being able to pick at your skin, allowing the affected areas to heal without being disturbed. ScratchSleeves are designed specifically to minimise the dame done by skin-picking and scratching.
- Keep skin moisturised, hydrated, and clean to avoid any spots or eczema outbreaks that could encourage picking. Keeping skin clean also helps to prevent skin infections if there are open wounds.
- Keep nails short. Having short nails means if you do begin to subconsciously pick at your skin, you are less likely to cause open wounds or transmit bacteria beneath the skins surface.
Pinch Me Therapy Dough
Piacentini said that Silly Putty or slime is a great way for kids to keep their hands busy, so for adults that want to get in on the fun, this therapy dough is like an elevated, more aesthetically pleasing putty. It comes in a variety of relaxing scents to help aid in stress relief while offering something to knead with your fingers and keep your hands occupied. The lovely aroma, calming colors, and malleable texture make this the ultimate BFRB stress reliever.
Promising review: I have anxiety. I have this next to my desk to play with while I talk on the phone and for zoom meetings. Im not a therapist or psychologist, but the scent and the act of molding it in my hands helps me stress less while Im gathering thoughts in my head. It really is a higher quality than I thought. The scent is still there and the dough hasnt lost any of its resistance. T.P.
Best for: adults who find Silly Putty to be the perfect tactile tool to ease anxiety and busy their hands and are in need of a grown-up alternative.
Keep Your Hands Busy By Drawing Or Writing
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Its Important To Know The Signs That Intervention Needs To Happen Soon
Figure out the signs that indicate the risk of skin picking is enhanced and intervention may be needed. To increase Jessicas chances of success, I have fine-tuned my attention to signs that mean I need to check on her right away.
Confessions Of A Skin Picker
I am a recovered skin picker, so I am very compassionate to those who struggle with this. I have dealt with my own acne, particularly adult hormonal cystic acne, and couldnt keep my hands off of my face. Its actually why I became an esthetician. When I found out there was a profession where I could get paid to pick at peoples skin, I knew I had found my calling! No worries, I was a responsible picker with others skin but not with my own, sadly. I finally realized that messing with cystic acne was a no-win situation and gave up my bad habit.
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How This Condition Develops
Skin-picking disorder is a repetitive self-grooming behavior. Its also called a body-focused repetitive behavior . Other BFRBs include pulling hair or picking nails.
Skin-picking disorder is classified as a type of OCD. The compulsive urge to pick is often too powerful for many people to stop on their own. The more a person picks at their skin, the less control they have over the behavior.
Its unclear what causes a person to develop this disorder.
The disorder often begins after one of two events or stimuli:
- An infection, injury, or wound starts healing and creates a scab. The itching causes the person to scratch and pick. The new wound or lesion starts to heal and creates another scab. That begins the cycle of picking.
- The behavior is a stress relief habit during a time of stress. The repetitive action and control that skin picking gives may provide relief from other events that cant be controlled.
Skin-picking disorder occurs in both children and adults. It can begin at almost any age, but it typically appears first in adolescence or at the onset of puberty. Women are more likely to develop it than men.
Several conditions commonly occur alongside skin-picking disorder. These illnesses or disorders may be symptoms of a condition, or they may share many common underlying risk factors.
These co-occurring illnesses include:
How Do I Take Care Of Myself
If you have dermatillomania, its important to see a healthcare provider with training and experience in treating this disorder. They can give you the best guidance on caring for yourself and what you can do to improve your outcome.
In general, you should do:
- Be honest about your condition. Dermatillomania is a mental health condition that affects your mind and behaviors. Just as youd see a healthcare provider for an ear infection or a heart problem, you should also see a healthcare provider for mental health conditions like dermatillomania. They can help treat the effects of your condition, physical and mental alike.
- See your healthcare provider as recommended. This is especially important for therapy sessions, mental health visits and any other care you might need.
- Take medication if prescribed. Medications can make a big difference in helping you avoid acting on any urges to pick at your skin.
- Avoid triggers when possible. People with dermatillomania often pick at their skin in certain settings or situations. Avoiding those triggers can make a big difference.
- Take away the opportunity to pick. People with dermatillomania may benefit from fidget devices or other things that can help them avoid picking behaviors by keeping their hands occupied. Other ways to avoid picking include wearing gloves or clothing that keep you from picking at your skin.
When should I go to the ER?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
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Apply Moisturizer Instead Of Picking
How To Stop Picking At Your Skin
You must first have the desire to get better. For me, I gave it up as a New Years resolution. I was ruining my skin by picking at my cysts, so I finally had enough and stopped.
- Read these other tips to stop skin picking
For some people, its just not that easy. I gently addressed the skin picking with Eve, and she was fully aware of what she was doing to her face. However, giving up skin picking proved to be challenging. I did a few skin peels to help fade the discoloration, and while we did get nice improvement, her continuous picking was working against the goals we were trying to achieve for her skin.
I am fully empathetic to skin pickers, as I have been in those shoes. My intention of this post is to create an awareness for this condition and share an unintended result that might show up years later.
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How Can I Get Rid Of Scars
Scars can be very hard to completely remove. But there are a few things you can do to reduce their appearance.
When you notice a scar starting to appear, you can try putting some silicone gel on it daily. Dont be discouraged if you dont see immediate results. Most people dont notice improvement until theyve used the gel for several months, and it hasnt been shown to work well for all types of scars. You can buy silicone gel on .
You can also talk to a dermatologist about laser therapy for scars. Also note that it can take up to six months to know if a scar is likely to be permanent.
Talking Therapy For Skin Picking Disorder
Talking therapy is currently thought to be an effective treatment to help change skin picking behaviour.
If you’re offered this, it’ll usually be given through community mental health services.
The most common type of talking therapy offered for skin picking disorder is cognitive behavioural therapy, and may include a technique called habit reversal training.
Habit reversal training works by helping you:
- recognise and be more aware of your skin picking and what’s triggering it
- replace skin picking with a less harmful behaviour
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Affective / Emotional Strategies I Use
- AffirmationsI’m a big fan of focusing on the positive. This started when a non-profit I worked at used Appreciative Inquiry for their strategic planning process, and I heard examples of how focusing on the positive can be dramatically more effective than focusing on the things going wrong.
- Daily CalendarSince the start of 2005, I’ve been keeping a daily calendar for trich.Each day has one line, like “Mon Sep 19______________________” On the line I write one positive thing I did that day related to trich. I think this tool has been incredibly helpful.I also put a little star if I didn’t get stuck for an extended period of time , and a star with a circle if I was pick/pull-free.
- Co-counselingI do a kind of peer counseling, called Reevaluation Counseling or Co-Counseling. This has been remarkably helpful by providing safe space to express feelings, and break the pattern of shame and silence.
- Hula hoop analogy / reality.I heard about someone in AA, who’s a sponsor for others, and with all her new sponsees she takes a hula hoop, puts it over their head and around them, and says “See everything inside in the hula hoop? That’s yours â you are responsible for it, for making sure things go well. Others don’t get to do it for you. Now, see everything outside the hula hoop? Not yours!”
This analogy reminds me that many things I worry about are actually outside my metaphorical hula hoop.
Skin Discoloration From Acne
If youre someone who gets, or has gotten, blemishes, youre all too familiar with the red and dark mark it leaves behindeven if you never squeezed it. This is caused by melanin cells triggering an inflammation response indicating an injury in the skin. However, if you happen to pick at it, the bleeding and scabbing will result in a longer-lasting dark scar. Eventually, the pigment cells will settle down especially when expedited by a fading product like Post-Breakout Fading Gel. When left on its own, a scar can take 1-4 months to disappear. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and is all too common whenever a blemish appears. Read how to fade your acne scars fast.
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Habitaware Keen Behavior Tracker Smart Bracelet
This bracelet looks like your standard Fitbit, but instead of tracking your fitness, its trained to vibrate any time it detects your particular BFRB behavior. Zakhary said that this bracelet is particularly helpful for those with automatic behaviors, which simply means theyre not aware that theyre picking or pulling. If you tend to pull out the hair around your forehead, you can train the HabitAware to vibrate every time you reach your hand up to that hairline. Itll help you realize when youre doing it so that you can gain the awareness to work on the other habit reversal techniques. Since it looks like any other smartwatch or fitness tracker, it also shouldnt encourage any questions.
Promising review: Keen gives me the ability to acknowledge when Im pulling, which has done wonders to get me to stop. Before, I often recognized that I was doing it, but I had no way to translate that awareness into behavior change. Now I press the button after I get a buzz, and this simple action interferes with the pattern of pulling, so I dont return to it . Jen via HabitAware
Best for: anyone with automatic BFRB behaviors who needs help with awareness.
Kitsch Moisturizing Spa Gloves
Zakhary and Piacentini both mentioned gloves as a product with obvious benefits for those who pick, pull, bite nails, or engage in any other behaviors that involve hands and fingers. Zakhary said that if theyre distracting, you can obviously take them off, but its a good first line of defense or barrier that can at least increase awareness. That being said, it may help to keep them on if theyre comfortable and interrupt your day-to-day activities as little as possible. These Kitsch spa gloves are moisturizing, made from soft cotton, and have touchscreen-friendly fingertips so you wont have to take them off to use your devices.
Promising review: I loved the cooling effect of the gel insulation while I wore them! Its such a bonus that you can also still use your device while wearing them!! I definitely recommend trying these out! You can wash and reuse them over and over again! via Kitsch
Best for: anyone who needs a product that allows them to use their hands regularly while also protecting them from certain urges.
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What Are The Signs Of Skin Picking Disorder
It’s hard to say exactly when skin picking changes from a mild, nervous habit to a serious problem that needs treatment. It may help to ask the following questions:
- Does picking at your skin take up a lot of time during the day?
- Do you have noticeable scars from skin picking?
- Do you feel upset when you think about how much you pick your skin?
- Does picking at your skin get in the way of your social or professional life? For example, do you avoid the beach or the gym because people might see your scars? Or do you spend a lot of time covering up sores before work or social events?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder And Dematillomania
Dematillomania, also referred to as skin picking disorder or excoriation disorder, refers to the compulsive picking, rubbing, scratching or digging into ones skin. This is not the same as the occasional picking at a pimple or scab, which is a common behavior. Compulsive skin picking involves damaging the skin by repetitive picking, resulting in noticeable sores.
Because dermatillomania is considered an obsessive-compulsive related disorder, learning how to stop compulsive skin picking will involve addressing the mental health disorder behind the behavior. There are focused therapies that help individuals access tools for learning how to stop compulsive skin picking behaviors, which can ultimately improve their quality of life.
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And It Affects One In 20 Of Us
We’ve all been therewhen you feel that first tingle of a pimple rearing its head and all you want to do is touch it, prod it, and squeeze it. Before we know it, that magnified mirror becomes our best friend and worst enemy as we dig away at anything in plain sight. But when does an innocent pick turn into an all-out obsession? Keep scrolling to find out the truth about skin picking, according to experts.
How A Diagnosis Is Made
Skin-picking disorder cant be self-diagnosed. Although you may suspect your symptoms are caused by skin-picking disorder, your doctor will want to rule out any other underlying conditions before making a diagnosis.
After performing a physical exam, your doctor will ask you about your behaviors and the feelings you have while performing the habit. Theyll also determine whether the lesions or scabs youre picking are the result of a skin disorder or condition like eczema or psoriasis.
If your doctor suspects skin-picking disorder, they may refer you to a mental health professional. Family medicine doctors or internists may make this referral if they think the skin picking is the result of stress, anxiety, or OCD.
The treatment options available for skin-picking disorder fall into two main categories: medication and therapy.
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