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I haven’t been doing well this past week. I have been picking consistently. It’s different than it used to be when I was doing poorly. I have lots of little spots that I keep picking and they are leaving little scabs. In the past I have made big marks that are deep and look like a wound. This mostly looks like acne. But I am frustrated because I keep doing it. Daily. Right now I have hydrocolloids on 3 small spots and Aztec healing clay mask on my forehead because it’s pretty broken out from picking. I am realizing that I am at least not overdoing it with products and obsessing about “fixing” it with things. I need to stop!!! Summer is no time to pick. I need to be able to swim and sweat and not worry about makeup! I have gotten on a good track before and I feel like I have come close to stopping and have come a long way overall I just need to push all the way this time and not start getting laxed when things get better. **update: I just washed the mask off my forehead and I already see such an improvement. That mask is amazing. I am planning to use it on my whole face tomorrow night.
What could be causing the stress? Anything new in your schedule/life? Maybe a possible drop in mood caused by depression? Anything could be a trigger. Prior to this picking spree, how long did you go without a setback? Desribe how you normally are. Do you pick here and there as a norm or can you go for weeks/months without picking a single blemish? I am happy to hear that you are at least not creating large wounds. The little ones can heal up quicker. We all get setbacks, we are not in any way perfect. I think everyone on here can understand and relate with what you are going through. But it's the norm to expect and predict such setbacks, even if you had been doing better for some time. This is how this disorder functions. It is always looming in the back and occasionally comes out to torment. It's just like any other disorder, it fluctuates over time. I equate my skin picking with depression. Just as I have good days and bad days, my skin picking is the same. When it happens I observe it for what it is, I don't deny the agony of the emotions it evokes. But I also know that it comes and goes, that it's a temporary phase. I wanted to add that some people can also be triggered into picking if they hear that others are doing better. This is some sort of comparison paradigm that can severely affect us. It can evoke feelings of inadequacy and spur anxiety due to a fear of not being able to control ourselves (subconscious displacement of emotional conflict). I think that is one phenomenon which hasn't been mentioned so far. I hope that you are not too hard on yourself during this time and I hope that you can find solace in the self care.
Hi serene, thanks for your response! I think if anything I could pick out that may have triggered it or changed, it could have been being tired and having a small breakout from trying a new sunscreen. I think I may be allergic to zinc or something in mineral sunscreen because I break out in little bumps and get red. Unfortunately the one with chemicals seems to work better for me. I don’t wear sunscreen all the time but I am outside a lot so I wanted something I could use when I know I am getting too much. Fortunately I think I found one by cera ve made for oily skin that doesn’t break me out and works really well. I was at the beach on the weekend and my face didn’t even get pink which is where I had it...and my neck and shoulders burned exactly where I forget to put it lol! Passed the test!! When I am doing well I seem to still pick a little as part of my grooming like small bumps on the perimeter of my face...but I seem to be able to say no to most bumps on my face (not hiding in the hairline or under my jaw). This feels more manageable to me because I don’t care that much about having a little Mark where people can’t see! I can go for weeks like this to the point where even hyperpigmentation has faded and then I have a “clean” slate to mess up again :(!
Yes, what a struggle. You know, I have noticed that during the times of my life when I was rigid with self care, the picking was less and not as severe. During the times when I slack off and completely discredit self care, lose interest in makeup, dont want to take the time to do peels or buy beneficial skin products....my picking reaches a more severe level where I pick deeper and prolong wound healing...which creates deeper scars. So self care for me is a signifying hallmark of being able to contain to a certain degree this frustrating affliction. Also, hormones play such a big part and can be triggers as well. What I hate is having the bumps, scabs, and scars on my mind 24/7. Just wish my mind could detach from such thoughts and live in peace. Even with self care, I am now obsessing about getting rid of the scars...which is possible but take A LOT of effort and A LOT of time. I did so well for 3 years, being able to smooth out my skin and permanently eradicate most of the scars, (get rid of the scar tissue itself, not just smooth it out). I was proud of my accomplishment and proud of my skin...until I relapsed badly. And its this cycle of destruction and then trying to undo the damage. So either one or the other. Its maddening and frustrating. I had set a goal for myself to be much better by the age of 30. I am seeing that hope come to life now as I am nearing that age. I am doing better and am cognizant of what I need to be doing and how I need to be reacting. But there is now that fear of a future relapse. Its as if after all that hard work, my mind was trying to convince me that its ok to pick and that I can easily undo the damage, as I have had in the past. It was so unbelievably tempting. And I am afraid of that to some extent. Endless struggle.
I know what you mean about the cycle! One thing that helps to think about is that even if you messed up your progress at least your skin had a period of time that it had a break! It had time to recover meaning that the damage you have now is new as oppose to many many years old and more or less permanent. Our bodies are amazing and our skin heals itself so well (if only we let it). Today I have wanted to pick a few times but I keep saying no and walking out of the bathroom immediately. I will work to do the same thing tonight before bed. I will plan to wash my face and do the Aztec Indian healing clay mask (so good), moisturize, bandage any spots that need it, and apply my trentinoin (holy grail retinoid) then lights out to bed! I know I am close to healing up well again. I want this chapter of my life to be in the past. I don’t care that it is rare to overcome this. I am going to do it! I am above all putting my hope in God because I believe He is strong where I am weak. I know my life would be so much better- not just for me- but for all those around me if I could just kick this once and forall and use my time and energy towards others and not obsessing about my appearance!!!
Have you read about body dysphoric disorder? I believe that skin picking is just like it. Quite possibly skin picking is a manifestation of the body dysphoria. Have you ever overcome any other long term chronic behavior which caused you immense discomfort? Anything from anxiety to ocd to any ticks or habits like stuttering, nail biting, etc? I have overcome multiple chronic behaviors over my lifetime. From various forms of extremely debilitating OCD to stuttering to nail biting. I know its possible to overcome anything. Now I don't know if it works by simply willing it away. I think maybe the brain also naturally changes over time which can enable some of these habits to stop having their strength. And once their strength diminishes, you do not feel controlled by them and can forget that these issues even existed. BUT I know that from all my pain and from all my battles I now have a ton of empathy for anyone else who struggles with any type of disorder and I can appreciate even the smallest things. For example, I can actually appreciate a messy house. This might sound extremely odd, but if you had extreme OCD which forced you to clean every inch of your house to the point where you wanted to commit suicide and would end up crying for hours.....you can only understand that once you went through something as horrible. I now can enjoy a bit of mess and actually feel creatively stimulated when in an unorganized environment. I NEVER KNEW that this would be possible for me one day. I struggled for such a long time with that particular OCD. I would say around 10 years. I had other forms of OCD which also came and went. The reality is that my brain is susceptible to this type of obsessional preoccupation. I do not know why...but think its genetic and maybe high stress in childhood triggered the OCD to come out. I grew up in a very unhappy household which lacked love and order. It was just stress from the get go...and my brain was fed massive amounts of cortisol at such a young age. Cortisol actually alters brain chemistry over time, this is why its important to avoid chronic stress.
I totally understand how you feel about this condition taking away our time and energy. But another worry of mine is that if I am capable of beating this skin picking disorder, I might experience a new behavior show up. The brain will try to compensate for lack of an obsession and create a new one. Since there has been a very evident pattern throughout the years, I think its highly possible for it to keep continuing by simply changing the obsessions from one to another. I do not know if skin picking has been the only affliction for you. I just am not sure if we can will these behaviors away. Only over time can we re-train our brain to the point where it can loosen its grip on the obsession. Or maybe the brain simply alters over time and we can easily forget the obsession. So on that im still not sure. What causes some people to be able to overcome such behavior? Is it our control over ourselves or simply time taking its toll and altering us, improving us? I do not know...but its nice to think that we have possibly some control over it and that we can alter behavior.
Also interesting to point out that at a certain point two years ago, I began to put my obsessions into exercise and diet. I became obsessive to the point where I became underweight and unhealthy. But the skin picking diminished significantly at that time. Since I created that new obsession, it distracted me from the skin picking. Both unhealthy practices and the last thing I need is an eating disorder because that can easily turn fatal.
Yes I understand what you are saying on many accounts! I do know body dismorphic disorder. I definitely think I suffer from that in a way with my skin because I can focus on it so much I do t even have a clear perspective of what I am studying in the mirror...like I’m too zoomed in and have lose any realistic perspective of what I look like to anyone else. All I see are imperfections. I used to actually sketch my face sometimes and mark where the actual imprecations are then look at my sketch and it would help me recognize how much of my face way done when in the mirror all I could see where the blemishes. That made me realize there must be something wrong with how I view my reflection. I also have an obsessive brain...not sure if I would call it ocd by definition but I struggle with anxiety over obsessing with concerns whether it’s something I said that I didn’t think came out right or something I forgot to do at work Etc. I realize that picking is often a way of distracting myself from something I am anxious about because when I pick it’s all I can think about. I switch my anxiety to focus on my skin and how to heal it. I have been doing okay at not picking the rest of this week though! I keep saying no to myself and I am pretty healed up.
I am trying to get to the root of my unsettled nature and anxiety so I’m not just distracting myself from it but actually learning to live beyond it. I feel less need for control. I love the quote I heard the other day. “Tomorrow’s freedom Is today’s surrender”
Your description of the body dysmorphia is spot on. It morphs our image of ourselves by deconstructing our self perceptions. It's as if we compartmentalize parts of our image, with the pores and imperfections taking center stage.
I am happy to hear that you have been doing much better recently. I myself have been doing well by not picking...but I still get bouts of depression. There is always a second issue, and I theorize that the skin picking was a habitual tool used for keeping my depression in check. Just as you mentioned about how you would switch your anxiety to focus on your skin, I would direct my depression into picking and monitor the healing process as a distraction from the real issue. Since depression often has hidden roots, it's easier to blame it on a visible habit. And over time, the behavior solidifies and becomes "natural".
So I feel that as of now I allow myself to feel the depression or the anxiety. Without redirecting it into any sort of behavior, I try to process it intellectually. There is no need to mask the original pain by creating more pain.