If you’ve ever had a breakout, or if you have problems with acne, you have probably found yourself with an uncontrollable urge to pick at the annoying blemish. You may even be one of those people who find it difficult to stop once you start, and that just might make you a dermatillomaniac, or someone who has Excoriation Disorder.
Dermatillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by the repeated urge to pick at one’s own skin, often to the extent that damage is caused.
This scenario is so common: you’re stressed with a million things on your mind, but you’re totally fixated on that bump on your face. You step towards the bathroom mirror, which suddenly takes on a magnetic g-force, drawing you in close for an inspection of that terrible red thing that must go.
Before you even know what’s happening, you’ve been sucked into a picking vortex where time doesn’t exist! When you come to, it’s too late. The damage has been done. Your face is red and puffy, there are nail marks and blood. Your skin is so much worse than before. You feel guilty and awful. Also read: Stop Touching Your Face.
Picking a breakout is one of the worst things you can do to your skin, but so many of my clients at the Lanshin wellness center do it between appointments. They want to “fix” the problem immediately. They see something they don’t want on their face, and are anxious to make it go away, as fast as possible.
To all you pickers out there, if you would just stop the scratching, squeezing, popping madness, you would see a MASSIVE improvement in your skin. So please, put those fingers down! <– Click to tweet about this
Step away from the mirror. Take 10 deep breaths. Take a cool sip of water. Shut that inner Dermatillomaniac down – shut it down.
I know, sometimes it’s so hard to stop. You want to, but you can’t. Look at it this way, when you pick you are sending an unloving, negative message to yourself. It’s a form of abuse. It also causes the following:
- The P. Acnes bacteria will spread across your skin as you pick, leading to more breakouts.
- Breakouts will last longer as you interrupt the natural healing process.
- The likelihood of deeper, darker and longer lasting scarring will increase.
- Your skin will scab, leading to more picking. You know how hard it is to leave a scab alone!
Are you ready to stop picking your face now?
You will be amazed at how much better your skin will look and feel – without spending a dime. It’s the ultimate in green beauty on a budget!
Tools and tips I share with my clients to help them keep their pincher fingers off their face:
1. Take alternate action
Harness that urge to DO something, like picking, toward a healing action. Try applying a spot treatment instead. You can also reach for a skin-clearing facial mask.
My choice for best natural acne spot treatment: My current favorite is Evan Healy Blemish Treatment Roll-On Stick with a convenient roll-on ball.
My choice for best natural exfoliant for acne: I love Josh Rosebrook’s Active Enzyme Exfoliator, which doubles as both a mask and exfoliator.
2. Put yourself on a “mirror diet”
Limit your mirror time to no more than 10 minutes per day. A client of mine was told to do this by her therapist – that’s how out of control her picking was! This is a great tool that I share with all my clients now because it’s truly effective.
3. Time yourself
Another client took the mirror-diet to the next level by using a timer while she is in the bathroom. Using an alarm will wake you from the “deadly mirror trance”.
When you are anxiously picking, most likely your breath becomes shallow – or practically halts altogether. Take 10 deep breaths an notice how much calmer you begin to feel. Ahh, the urge is waning!
5. Notice. Observe.
Get present to the feelings coming up when you want to pick. Is there something else going on that you’re not addressing? Picking is often a symptom of a deeper anxiety. If you have an obsessive relationship to picking you may want to address it with a good therapist.