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joycake , 02 Feb 2013

12 hours spent on a hole in my face... worst ever

I am 23 years old and have been compulsively picking at my face for 4 years. I don't know why I started doing this, especially on my face where it is impossible to hide. Last week, I spent 12 hours straight in the mirror, picking at what was already an open wound between my eyes. Up until recently, I had myself convinced that there were ingrown hairs under the scar that were causing pain, that could only be relieved by digging them out. I have only recently been able to admit that even if this were the case, theres no way that the hairs could be causing more pain than a huge open wound. Anyway, I made the wound so large that even the extra-wide size bandaid doesnt cover it. By the time I was done in the bathroom, the counter was covered in blood, and the mirror with specks and splashes. The next day, my left eye was swollen all day. When a scab formed, I ripped it off, and it was a very thick scab which gave way to a very deep wound. I feel like I picked almost all the way to my skull. I was too embarassed to go to school for the rest of the week, so I know my grades will suffer. What used to take days or weeks to heal now takes months. The scar is so large and noticable that I can't cover it up with makeup. I feel like my boyfriend is embarassed of me, and when its really bad I don't even want him to see me. He is so wonderful and doesn't deserve this. I usually don't go out without sunglasses on. If I didn't have to walk my two dogs, I would probably stay inside all the time. I missed my nephew's first birthday last month because I was too embarassed to be seen. I also skipped thanksgiving last year. What is currently setting me back is when I go to replace the bandaid. I can't help but spend at least 15 minutes picking, and I feel like it cancels out any healing that may have taken place. Covering it with a bandaid helps a lot, both because I can't see it and it doesnt sting to touch. I don't know what I would do without a bandaid! I'm just feeling very depressed and anxious, I feel I've gone way too far. Even after 4 days, it is still throbbing with pain and I don't see that it's healed at all. I know the scar will be very severe and probably permanent. I wish I could stay out of sight and preferably unconscious for the next month, or however long it will take to heal. Most importantly, I want to have strategies which I can employ the next time I want to pick. I try to tell myself that no one notices it as much as i do. It has gotten so nuch worse, the last few times it healed I only got to experience it for a few days before I ripped it open again, and now I dont even wait until it has healed. Any advice on avoidance strategies, self-soothing, alternatives, after-care, etc would be greatly appreciated. Most of all, I'm just gpad that there is a forum like this, so I know I'm not the only or worst one out there.
4 Answers
February 03, 2013
I remember 23. You are not the worst one out there. I have been picking for nearly 30 years. I hope you find a way to stop because the damage only gets worse when you pick as you get older. The worse scarring I did to myself happened in my 30s. I can really relate to you wanting to stay unconscious until things heal. Just this morning I found myself wishing I could be placed into a medically induced coma until my skin heals. The acne I get is real. I feel like I pick because the acne feels so uncomfortable that I just want it out, and sometimes I do feel that cleaning it out will make it heal faster. The first time I picked deep enough to really scar was on my forehead in my 20s. As I was picking, my skin just felt "wrong", like something was still in there and needed to come out, so I kept on going. One time in my 30s I picked a place on my forehead by my hairline so bad that I actually hit an artery and blood came spurting out of my head non-stop like you see in war movies. I had to call 911. I was so embarrassed. They couldn't believe that I had done that to myself just by picking at my skin. So I hope that makes you feel a little better. I actually tried a diet called the Paleo Diet for Acne a couple years ago and my skin did clear up for once in my life. I got off it and am trying to get back on it again. It involves giving up sugar, certain starches, caffeine, etc..., and eating mostly fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meat. I got a big headache for a few days just from body coming off the addiction to sugar, carbs and caffeine. But after two months I felt so sure my skin was under control that I actually had enough confidence to throw away all my acne and skin care products. When I was eating right I realized I didn't need any of them. My goal is to get back to that again. Right now I am so embarrassed about my skin that I stay inside my house as much as possible. This is ruining my life and I want to think about things other than what my skin is going to look and feel like when I wake up in the morning. I want to stop being afraid to plan things because I don't know what my skin is going to look like that day. It feels like I must be the only one in town dealing with this, but maybe they're all hiding inside too. I hope you get better. I totally related to everything you wrote. Thank you for sharing it.
February 03, 2013
Also, I don't know if this will help you, but I went online and found some high quality skincare products from Mychelle. They are kind of pricey, but I find that when I take the time to use them I feel more loving and gentle toward my skin. The serums and the mists that you apply after the cleanser also leave your skin feeling refreshed but also bit tacky which helps keep me from wanting to touch and pick, and gives it time to heal. I know how hard it is to resist picking the scabs especially when they get dry and have that tiny edge coming up. Sometimes I wonder if we pick on the outside because we are always "picking on" ourselves on the inside too... Sometimes when I change my internal self talk from "I suck" to "I love you", it helps with the shame and anxiety and the "what does it matter if I pick or not, I already have scars" attitude.
The Naughty Se…
February 03, 2013
Here are a few things to try. While I was healing, what I'd do to keep from dicking with my spots was I'd put Neosporin all over them. Neosporin is so greasy that I really couldn't get any purchase on my skin with my fingers. So if that didn't stop me, I'd have to actually wash the stuff off my face to pick, which gave me time to think twice. Also, it keeps dirt and infection out of the wound. When you're "in remission" so to speak, keep a thick moisturizer and a facial mask (a peel-off one, NOT a mud mask or anything you need to scrub off) within reach. My problem was that I'd be totally fine until I looked at a mirror, so when my picking was still full-blown, I taped trash bags over the mirrors during that time. If you stop in front of the mirror and you get the urge, slather the moisturizer on, or if it's night time, slather on a layer of the facial mask. It works the same way Neosporin works. However, wait on using the mask until your open wounds heal, and don't use it more than once a week (but do use the moisturizer, like a sensitive skin formula Aveeno or something). Now once your face is covered in whatever, get out of the bathroom, get away from the mirror and do something that will take your mind off picking. OR, paint your nails. OR, get out of your house, go for a walk. Take the time you would've spent gouging your face and use it to do something you actually enjoy, that doesn't cause you pain and misery. I see a lot of folks posting things about willpower and such but sometimes the best way to break a bad habit is to make it impossible for you to do it, and force yourself to spend that time creating a good habit. I've almost stopped picking completely, and I have discovered that I won't touch my face at all if I am wearing makeup. On that note, please, learn not to be too embarassed to show your face in public. We punish ourselves enough by picking, there's just no sense in punishing yourself more by isolating yourself and keeping yourself from being with your family and friends and enjoying the world. Getting out can only be good for you. And seriously, why should you give a rat's flying ass what anyone thinks? There are craptons of people out there with jacked up faces. If someone looks at you funny or says something, the problem isn't your face, it's their lack of social grace.
February 03, 2013
Hi Joy. First of all (((BIG HUGS))) to you. I and many others on these boards can relate to you. Having first had experiece with everything that you described, I totally understand how you feel. Picking can be devastating. Like you, I missed many important events and activities. not dwell on the past. Focus on getting well for the future. I would recommend treating your wound with Neosporin (similar to what the other poster said) and rinsing it gently with an antibacterial gel. I use Tersaseptic. It's a skin cleanser and shampoo available at Walmart. If you leave the wound alone for a few days you will notice a great improvement. The key is to leave it alone and let it heal. Treat yourself gently. Take the time to heal both physically and mentally, A week from now, you will be feeling a lot better. Good luck to you. xx

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