On a recently released you-tube video, a member of the board of the Trichotillomania Learning Center (TLC), Dana Flores, shared some tools she uses to curb her skin picking, a disorder she has suffered from since the age of twelve or thirteen. Although she is not completely cured of her habit, the tools she employs have gone a long way in helping her to drastically cut down on the number of hours she spends picking every day.
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Dana uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) tools to find ways to curb picking. One such method known as Habit Reversal Training (HRT) encourages one to seek either alternate hand acitivities or ones that prevents you from using your fingers to pick. Dana talks about keeping her hands busy or distracted from the act of pulling. For example Dana used a handled mirror when applying make-up because she then has both hands occupied and cannot pick while holding the mirror. Dana also engages in a lot of craft activities. She mentions the use of bubble wrap, keeping a small square in your purse or desk, wherever your picking environments tend to be so that you may pop the bubble wrap instead of picking your skin.
Another effective method of CBT is the use of stimulus control. One of the most important things you can do if you suffer from Trichotillomania is to reduce your exposure to stimuli in your environment that triggers picking. Dana mentions in the video that,
...mirrors and good lighting are the enemies of skin picking
Many skin pickers describe mirrors as huge triggers for engaging in skin picking. It is no surprise then that many skin pickers pick in the bathroom. Not only is there a mirror you can lean in very close, but the lighting in bathrooms also tend to be conducive to close inspection of one's own skin. Dana finds that covering all the mirrors in the house and leaving only a small square open right at the top so that you have to stand on your tiptoes to see yourself in the mirror. It’s difficult to balance and pick at the same time so this reduces the behaviour. It’s also a good idea to dim the lighting in your bathroom, making it harder to see the skin.
Fo many people skin picking is closely linked to anxiety. Dana found that music helps to calm and relax her, and takes away the urge to start pulling when confronted with a situation that causes anxiety. Sufferers of Trichotillomania should not use only one technique in order to reduce pulling, but should employ the different tools in conjunction with one another. Dana Flores observed that a combination of the various tools has helped her to curb her hair pulling from six hours a day to just one hour a week.