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Janwillem_3012 , 10 Aug 2022

What to do…?


My girlfriend is skinpicking for +- 10 years. She is having a hard time tried many things and is getting a bit desperate at some times.   

Is their a way for me to help her? Should I let her skinpick.. Are their things I can do.. 

1 Answer
August 13, 2022

I think it’s awesome that you’re asking this question… it demonstrates that you care and wish to help. 

Skin picking can feel incredibly lonely and isolating. After a picking episode, it’s common to feel things like shame, depression, anxiety and/or guilt. 

I’ve often verbalized feeling like a “monster” after picking based on the damage done to my skin.   

It’s important for you to recognize that picking is often a stress reaction — there is likely an underlying biological cause — and the person picking their skin is NOT doing it for enjoyment or attention (in the vast majority of cases). 

You, alone, can’t stop your girlfriend from picking — that has to come from within her — but you can provide love, support, and guidance.  

Everyone’s needs are different — but for me — it’s helpful to know that the people around me see more than the flaws on my skin. That they see me as a whole person who struggles with a coping skill that got “locked in” at a young age.  Skin picking can be frustrating for everyone involved (including you), but getting angry, raising your voice, or making ultimatums isn’t helpful — if anything — it could lead to more anxiety, more isolation, and more picking. 

Tell your girlfriend you care about her — tell her she is accepted — but also tell her that you’re trying to understand and be supportive. When in a calm place — ask HER if there’s anything that helps (or that you can do to be supportive). She’ll know better than anyone— it might be as simple as a hug… 

To support more long-term change — you could encourage her to talk to a trusted person or counselor — there are some basic strategies that can help reduce picking like “blocking techniques” (eg removing mirrors where picking occurs most, wearing gloves to prevent picking the skin, getting rid of any “instruments” like tweezers used to pick the skin — even basic “monitoring” techniques can help. The simple act of tracking your picking episodes can help a person gain insight into where and when they are most likely to pick — tracking can also help a person see progress, when picking is reduced.    

Finally, there are also medications that can be prescribed by a licensed physician that may help to address underlying biological triggers for picking…we’re in a world where you can talk to a therapist or counselor online, without even leaving the house — so that’s also an option to explore (if/when she’s ready). 

There is hope out there — and it’s important for her to have hope for change. You being supportive and seeking advice is a HUGE step in the right direction.    

Be comforting, be loving, be accepting and try to understand that no one “asks” for this disorder. It’s really painful (physically and emotionally) — and it takes hard work to change it…but there is hope. Just remember that when she’s picking…she’s struggling and needs a supportive person who cares for her. She’s not doing any of this “on purpose” or to cause pain to other people — she’s struggling with a legitimate disorder that millions of people around the world struggle with everyday.   

I hope this is somewhat helpful — and I wish the best for you and your girlfriend.   

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