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Rachel_cooper , 20 May 2012

Wanting to share thoughts and advice on how to quit skin picking forever

Hi, I am a 32 year old female who has a problem with skin picking (with tweezers). I have had this problem for 7 months with isnt a very long time considered to some people however it took over me at a rapid rate. I have suffered with psoriasis since I was about 16 and have always squeezed spots if I see them on my face and shoulders. I can recall my mother sitting me down from about 13 years old to get rid of blackheads she could see on my forehead and chin. I remember been fascinated looking at what came out. Last year I separated from an abusive partner of 12 years and early last year I was the victim of a sexual assault. I recall getting depression and being swallowed under quickly suffering with very low mood, no motivation, breaking down ad crying a lot. I also stopped going out with my friends on a Friday night. I don't even know how it started but I recall going out one night in September and noticing some scabs on my chin and side of mouth which I presumed had come from me squeezing spots and feeling disgusting compared to how lovely all my friends looked. I must have picked these scabs because I can also remember seeing a white thing deep inside the wound that wouldn't come out and I got the tweezers to see if I could pull it out that way, but every time I pulled a white thing out another appeared solid pick that, and the next, and the next resulting in me having the biggest round sunken wound in my chin, making me seclude myself, not wanting to go out because i felt ugly and ashamed. I have only been out socially 3 times in the last 7 months and I've not even wanted to go out, I've gone to please my partner. I now pick anywhere I can find these white things/follicles/spots. I feel out of control likei can't help it even though I know what I'm doing it wrong and that I will look a mess after. I pick my face, shoulders, back, breast, armpits and vaginal area. I spoke to my go about this who called it pathological skin picking and has referred me to a psychiatrist and to have CBT treatment, however my first appointment isn't for another 2 years. I no longer work and I find that I can sometimes be up the entire night. I also pick during the day and i always have tweezers and a pocket mirror in my pocket so I can go anywhere for a sneaky pick. I put my head down in shame because I can see people staring at me. All I really want to do is stop and be normal again. Any advice anyone can give me will be greatly received.
6 Answers
May 20, 2012
Two years until your first session?! That's an extremely long time to be waiting! I struggle with CBT, I'm a psych student so I know the theory behind it and it sounds great but I feel like I can't figure out why I pick because I pick so often that I'd just have to say everything is a trigger. There are books on how to self-admisnister CBT available. I find a more behavioural approach suits me, I don't focus on the cause but the rewards and I change the reward systems artificially so that I'm intentionally rewarding myself for any behaviour other than picking. It works for me as long as I remember to do it but I need to find a small reward I can use for short term.
May 24, 2012

In reply to by L2012

CBT stands for cognitive behavior therapy. It is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence certain behaviors. They learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior.
May 22, 2012
Hi , this is my first post on this valuable website , that I am very grateful for.I am now 56. I have always been a mild picker, head to toes , I had no special favorite area. and over my life I had only had a few period where I picked at my self mercilessly. I'm a RN. I have usually been able to hide the picked at areas, except for episodes on my neck and face. Really I never thought I was OCD with it, except as I have described. In 2010 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I have resisted that diagnosis a long time , I've had a lot of pain for a long time, and I've tried to use any other means for pain relief , because I am in recovery 10 plus years. My doctor prescribed Cymbalta, for the pain and phenteramine to help me with my excess weight. That is when I increased picking on my skin like it was full time job. I bought a 15x magnifying mirror, several tweezers, and other sharp implements.I spent 3-4 hours a day , shorting my self on healing sleep. Of course other nurses who have known me a long time asked what was happening with me, and I would blame it on itching from new meds, or the very excessive sweating I had from the Cymbalta. I had gouged my finger nails beds so bad , my nails were growing out thin and deformed. I spent a lot of money on new uniforms and pants and long sleeve shirts to cover my pick marks, I bought a lot of ointments and salves to try to heal the marks faster , hundred count size boxes of bandaids...... I despaired, I still cry occasionally when I honestly appraise myself naked in front of a mirror, I picked my upper arms , shoulders and thighs over and over for so long, that the scars are fading very slowly.I quit the cymbata in Feb. It was helping my bodily pains , but The price was to high. It effected my brain In a way that increased compulsive ness in nature. I was having over 20 side affects. I have been normalizing over these 3 months.I followed the behavior tips I got on this web site about gentle ,short washing of my skin, short use of the close up mirror to minimally pluck. Wearing clothes to bed. I really wish to share how much zinc oxide ointments have helped me.I actually started using it because my groin folds and vulva were macerated and painfully red from all the sweating the cymbalta was causing, and it worked so well, I started using it on my forearms and every where else with good results. I used the 40 % at first, it was a bit drying to my skin, but I applied that at night , before bed, gently massaging myself and thinking kind thoughts about myself. All I had done that day that was good and worthwhile. so I was practicing not hurting myself mentally spiritually and physically. I favor Aveeno Baby diaper rash cream now about 16 % zinc oxide., there are about 4 kinds to choose from around here in your baby supply isle., some have nice additional vitamins and moisturizers. My skin is getting smoother all the time. I wrote this tonight just because of that, my thighs and but aren't scabby or sore any more. It will take a while before the scars are gone, but I can see that they are all healing. I look happily forward to letting my spouse see me naked again someday soon.I very reluctantly told him I was having a problem, cus I was feeling so bad It helped me be a little more accountable. I also told my recovery sponsor. But I would not let them see my skin. Its been about a year since I let him see me. I was never self conscious around Him before, I hated myself for all this. LOTS and lots of tears.. Just for today , one day at a time, I am practicing, these healing activities. I believe if I can do this , any one can do this. While I do have a few spots not fully healed because I still scratch when anxious, I am much improved, and I tell there IS HOPE !! This web site helped me not feel so alone, I felt like My doctor didn't even wish to look at me when I told him what I was doing, I needed a antibiotic in October for skin infections I caused myself, in spite of neosporin and bandaids. Open wound are a hazard for a nurse working in a ICU. Lots of germs around , and I was afraid , but that didn't stop me. I too carried around my portable picking supplies..You are not alone.You have choices inevery moment. More picking or seeing a friend ? People are often very busy thinking about them selves,and probably not obcessing over you. That's been my experience. I turn the conversaton, with , why do you ask? or thank you for caring. And I ask them about them selves, people love to talk about them selves , it gets me off the hook.

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