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Hi there! I cannot believe I'm actually able to say this, but I actually like my face now. I no longer have wounds, scabs, and gashes to hide. I no longer have to be embarrassed by how much cover up I have on. I can leave for school on time because I'm not sitting at a mirror picking at my face, wiping off blood, then covering up with makeup. And I feel like I should share how I got to this point because I'm hoping a lot of you can do the same!
Just a quick background, I'm 20 years old and I've struggled with acne since the beginning of high school. When I got it, it never went a way (I didn't realize it was because of the picking). I've been a picker for about 5 years but only realized it a year and a half ago. After dozens of face washes, scrubs, creams, dermatologist appointments, prescriptions, and "home remedies" I realized I cause my own acne and facial redness from picking. It was a big "aha" moment for me and I thought I'd be able to stop. Well as you probably guessed, I couldn't, so I reached out and found comfort and help on sites like these. I researched dermatillomania and tried for months to find ways to stop. I used a thick green face mask so I wouldn't touch, made stress balls to hold and play with when I felt the urge to pick, got rid of my bathroom close-up mirror, would challenge myself to not bring my coverup to school so I wouldn't pick, etc. I would also try to use events in my life as determination to quit–my dad's wedding, friends coming into town, a family reunion–and I would try to say "don't pick because you want your face to look presentable at these things." And that did not work.
And just so you know, I hated myself for a long time because of picking. Like I said, I would bring coverup to school (I'm in college) and go to the bathroom to fix my face. After studying in the library for finals, I almost cried when I saw what my face look liked in the bathroom. I minimized my outings and face-to-face experiences. I avoided snapchat, pictures, mirrors. I would plan to hangout later so that lights would be dimmer or we'd be outside and there wasn't lights on my face. I'd wear my hair down to cover up the sides of my face. The state of my face was constantly on my mind and I lived my life around my picking and what it did to me.
That being said, here I am now. I went to school earlier today and when I left the house, I looked in my mirror and smiled and still cannot believe that I got to where I am. And honestly it only took two weeks. I still have minor things that need to heal, but the overall appearance of my face is now normal. I have gained so much more confidence and am so happy. And I'll tell you what I did, but realize it's not magic. I don't have secret words or a special lotion that will heal you. You seriously need to have a talk with yourself in the mirror and decide that you don't want to be like this anymore. I know and completely understand the "I can't stop" thing when it comes to picking, but the ONLY way to start healing is to stop picking. You can do things to make it easier and help yourself, but in the end you need to stop. picking.
Two weeks ago, for the millionth time, I looked at my face and hated it. I hated all the red marks, the scabs, the holes, the zits, the scars. I, again, made a resolution to stop picking. But something was different this time. I was really going to stop. I set rules for myself–that I cannot peel off scabs unless it is dangling off my face. That I cannot pop a pimple unless it is a whitehead and pops at the touch of a finger. Anymore force than that and it's hands off. With these rules set I took action:
1. I got rid of my room's closeup mirror. I now only have a full body mirror to put makeup on
2. I put orange post-it notes with smiley faces (reminders of my no-pick goal) on all my vulnerable mirrors. This meant my full body mirror, the bathroom mirror, the overhead mirror in my car.
3.I took it half days at a time. My main picking times were right when I woke up and right before bed. I walked myself through these times and was hard on myself. When I woke up, I would want to go to the mirror. Instead, I would go eat some breakfast, and get dressed. I would say I did the opposite of distracting myself, I fully realized what I would do, so I constantly fought through these times and actively said "Do NOT pick. Get away from the mirror. Make your skin better. Do NOT pick. You can do it."
Now I did pop a couple pimples that came up. During the day, I felt one on my forehead. And instead of grazing it with my nail or picking at it. I took my hands off and told myself I'll look at it when I get home. So when I eventually got home, I touched it and it popped with barely any pressure, so i took care of it. I made sure I stopped when it popped, I didn't dig any further than necessary or pull extra skin. I sanitized it and walked away from the mirror. I think the most important part of getting better is holding yourself accountable. So the whole time I am telling myself to not pick. Stop when it's done. And so that's what I did. And each time I was able to walk away I was happy and congratulated myself.
Outside of the no-picking thing, here is my regimen. I have to start with right before I go to bed (I shower at night)
-In the shower, rinse my face, rub off dirt/grime/grease. I use Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Pore Refine Scrub, gently rub it around, leave it for a minute, wash it off
-Out of the shower, I pat-dry my face with a towel, then moisturize with Ponds Dry Skin Cream (it's a facial moisturizer with a blue lid). I rub it in pretty well and let it absorb for about 10 minutes before doing the next step.
-I get a Q-tip and put a little Vitamin E oil on any open skin or remaining red spots. This is my miracle step because I just recently started this and it helps heal scabs, sores, and reds spots amazingly. I let it absorb for about 10 minutes before the next step.
-I pat dry my face, since there is residual lotion and Vitamin E. I just pat my face with a dry washcloth to get any excessive wetness off
-(I got this step from a forum on this site!) I then use the washcloth to put Calamine Lotion on my face as an overnight face mask. I don't know how effective this is, but it helps me not pick at my face and prevents my face from greasing up overnight, so I like it. I usually do just one thin layer, enough that you can see it but it's not thick. Usually by morning the mask if very faded.
-When I wake up, I wash off the remaining calamine lotion, usually add some Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser to get it out of the brows, then pat dry my face, and a little of that Pond's lotion to moisturize.
-Pat dry my face to get off remaining lotion, then apply make up and get ready for the day!
I know that might look like a lot, but it's really not! It's what I do every night and while I let my lotion/Vitamin E oil absorb I usually watch some Netflix and wind down. Everything only takes about 5-10 minutes total, it's just the waiting part that's longer.
Anyway, I hope all of that is some help to anyone out there. Don't think that simply changing face wash will cure you, you really have to decide to conquer your picking first, then let the washes aid in the healing. How are you supposed to heal if the destruction is still happening everyday? Also, don't go overboard with anything, use a normal amount of say Vitamin E, face wash, lotion, etc. because using tons of it doesn't help your skin. These things take time and unfortunately it's hard to be patient, but I promise you that the results and your happiness are worth it! Let me know if you have any questions or need inspiration, I have so much hope for you guys and you should know you're capable of anything if you put your heart and mind into it. Good luck!!