Thursday, July 9, 2009

Skin Picking

Up until recently I thought I was the only person who suffered from skin picking, apparently there are thousands just like me who have this awful habit. Although I realize that having good skin is not very important I’m constantly bombarded by advertisements and celebrities flaunting their photoshopped images. Sadly, whenever I’m stressed I take out my frustration on my face and its visible, only to me, imperfections. It begins with a trip to a bathroom mirror, first one then time flies and my face becomes an open wound. The outcome? I cannot leave the house for a week. Why does this happen and how come we cant stop. I believe there are two reasons.

Reason 1 : In Social Psychology there is a term called the “spotlight effect”, this term refers to the condition where each person believes their imperfections or anything about them is far more noticeable to the public than it is in reality. When I am around people Im always afraid they will judge my appearance, and If I have a blemish on my face its agony. Once it got out of control when I lied to my friend that I left for vacation and could not be reached. The truth was that I was repulsed by my appearance. Afterwards I understood that my problem, feeding off of poor self esteem, had just morphed into body dysmorphic disorder. At that point it was clear, if I continue obsessing about something thats irrelevant to my friends and family I would destroy myself. Who cares what everybody thinks? If you saw a beautiful woman..or man with a great sense of humor would you care about a pimple on their nose? Probably not. Sadly nobody gives themselves this reality check on time and end up stressing about their appearance and even worse, taking it out on themselves. The only way out is this. Being perfect and being your best is something that many people confuse, being perfect is an impossible goal that you will drive yourself into the dirt achieving, being your best is something that will reward you greatly in the end. Upset with your appearance? Learn to compensate. Years of experience have taught me that in the end if you are being hit on because of your face and/or body instead of your intellect the relationship will be temporary. Would you really enjoy that? Knowing that you will grow old and no longer be the object of adoration you once were? This is exactly why you should work on your other best features. If you are a woman learn to be more feminine, read more, perhaps get a new hobby. If you’re a man work on sense of humor, and being more patient. Whatever you do regardless of sex it should be to enrich and culture your inner beauty something that withstands the test of time, something that really matters.

Reason 2 After doing some research I came across a theory that skin picking is a form of OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. I knew I was in trouble when after another episode of disfiguring my face I swore to never do it again, and within a few days I was back to my old habit. It was a feeling of guilt that I imagine anorexic people experience after a slice of pie. What I realized was that my face was decent whenever I would stop picking, but then when it was at its best the cycle would begin again. There are many forms of addiction and perhaps hurting yourself is a way of blocking out other problems in your life. From what I heard about other people’s experiences this habit can take a big toll on your life, it creates a hostile antisocial environment where you loose your ability to express emotions in an open way. Instead you take out that anxiety on yourself and suffer even more. The way I deal with this issue, is that I place post-its on my bathroom mirror with messages like “you are beautiful”, “don’t touch” and “you’ll regret it”, it sounds weird but it works. Whenever I visit the bathroom the mirror creates a sort of trance where my actions are on autopilot and I cannot control myself. The post-its snap me back into reality, and I think twice before I do something to my face. Another trick is simple, just don’t look in the mirror very often. Stay away, the longer you stare the more chances you have of finding something disagreeable. Lastly whenever you have the urge of harassing your face just find something to do with your hands like writing, cooking or even playing a video game, distract yourself!


  1. I have started a blog and I hope to meet other pickers there. I hope this will be a safe place to share our thoughts and ideas about the gross details and how to recover from something like this. I LOVE the post its Idea! I will try that! I dont think it will work all the time, but anything that works some of the time is great progress. Will let you know how it works.

    my blog is

    1. I too suffer from skin picking and have for years now. Over the past eight months though it has gotten really bad. People at work have started telling me to stop it and notice me doing it all of the time. I pick and bite at the skin around my fingernails and do this until they bleed. I have realized that it was a problem for a long time now but I seem to gain pleasure out of it for some reason so I just keep on doing it. Over the past three to four months, my fingernails have become increasingly more deformed. They have large bumps on them and are growing really weird. I read some information on the internet and thought my nails were clubbing which is a sign of underlying serious diseases. This alarmed me so I made an appointment with a dermatologist to have my nails looked at. My dermatologist told me that the deformities in my finger nails were a result of picking at the nail beds causing them to become inflamed. He said that this has caused my fingernails to be deformed. I would never have guessed this. Anyway, he gave me a shot (a steroid I think) and some gel to rub on my nail beds. He said that this should clear up the problem eventually. He also told me that I would have to stop the picking and biting or they would never get better. This sounded a lot easier than it actually was. I am addicted to the picking and biting. Anyway, for the last three days, I have been able to avoid picking and biting at my nail beds and around my fingernails. This has not been easy but I have managed to do it. What I have found that works best for me is to message my fingers when I get the urge to pick or bite. I have been doing this for three days now and it has worked really well. I just wanted to post this in hopes that it may help someone else like me who has this chronic problem.

  2. I just started a blog because I also suffer from this awful habit/disease. I have started professional help and am blogging about my treatment. Feel free to follow me as we can help each other!


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