Skin picking disorder is characterized by a compelling urge to pick, scratch or rub at the skin repetitively, often causing scarring and open wounds on the skin surface. Aside from the physically unsightly appearance of these wounds and the embarrassment it causes for the person suffering from dermatillomania, there is also the added risk of tissue infection. This risk is particularly high during the winter months when cold and flu germs are rife in the air. One online beauty magazine publication recently published an article titled, “Bracing for Cold Season? Here's How to Stop Touching Your Face”, in which the author points out the reality of increased vulnerability of the skin to bacterial infections in the winter months, citing the automatic contact of the hands to the face as possible avenues of transmission of germs.
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The key to reducing the picking and even touching of the face, according to Jennifer Raikes from the Trichotillomania Learning Centre (TLC) who was interviewed for the article, is to develop awareness of your skin touching and picking habits because a high number of picking and face touching behaviours occur automatically. Once you are aware of the patterns of your picking, the environments and situations where picking is more likely to occur, you should consider implementing measures that make picking difficult or unpleasant.
For example having plasters on the fingertips, playing with a fidget toy or having your hands in your pockets at your most vulnerable times, could help limit the amount of automatic picking you engage in. On the flip side, for skin pickers, cold wintery weather also makes it easier to wear clothing that limits access to the skin, such as long trousers, turtle necks or gloves. Winter weather can also result in dry, chapped skin, which further encourages picking for people with dermatillomania. It is therefore recommended to keep the skin well moisturized during the wintery months.