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hanne , 06 Apr 2014

Ways to Stop Picking?

I am 18 years old and have been picking at the skin on my face, arms, and breasts for the past five years now. At first it was really mild, and I would only do it every once and awhile, but especially in this past year, it's gotten a lot worse. I pick all the time, and I can't stop myself in public. A week or so ago I stumbled across the term Dermatillomania and I thought to myself, "That's what I have!" And it has been really comforting to know I'm not the only one that does this. Now that I know what it is, and that it is a real condition, I know that I really need to stop. I've been trying so, so hard now. But I can only go about one or two days before I start again. My arms are so scarred and I'm embarrassed to wear a swimsuit. I've been wearing gloves when I'm at home, but sometimes I get so agitated by some little mark on my skin that I pull them off and pick anyway. Any ideas would be so helpful! I'm so embarrassed by this.
1 Answer
April 09, 2014
Hello, my name is Samantha. I'm 24 and have been a picker since I was probably 13. First of all, do NOT get down on yourself. This is an illness and like with any illness, it is different for everyone and the journey is going to be filled with success and failure. I'll have to admit, when I was 18 I told myself there was no way in hell I would still be a picker in my mid-twenties. But here I am, 6 years later and I still have my bad days. It's all about trial and error, and don't forget that every step forward, no matter how small, is still a success! You reaching out for help is already a huge step in the right direction. May I ask what you have tried up to this point? Have you noticed what makes you pick more? When do you pick the most? Identifying these things is step number one. A journal is helpful. Also take note of the days you pick less. Were you doing something that took your mind off of it? I do crafts, clean, or even do a lap around my apartment complex. Usually after 15 minutes of distraction, the urge to pick has long gone. Sitting at the computer, driving in the car, or when I am stressing out to the max are some of my biggest triggers. Mostly I just need to keep busy. Some things that I have been doing lately: NO makeup. Unless absolutely necessary, which has been about 1-5 times a month, and I have been experamenting with this since the beginning of Feb. (I work as a registered nurse, so thankfully we are not judged on how much time we spend getting ready for work haha.) For years I have made my focus, getting rid of the acne. Creams, face washing, medications, ect. but the problem is, all of these things only brought my focus and attention more on my face and ultimately, picking. And to top it off, medicications and creams dry out my sensitive skin, and then I'm consumed with picking that off. ugh. So my new method is avoiding touching or focusing on my face as much as possible. Sometimes after I take a shower I don't look in the mirror at all or if I do, I stand far away. It is hard to get used to at first, but once you get in the habit, it is actually pretty liberating to not be a slave to to bathroom on a daily basis just to get ready to leave your house. Also, forcing myself to not wear makeup has 1) cleared up my skin IMMENSLY, 2) saved my money on makeup, and 3) made me much more aware of my picking because there is nothing for me to cover up the evidence with. I hope your journey is filled with success! I hope to hear back from you! - Samantha

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