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About RMT

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  1. This is my first post. I've lurked on these boards for some time, and I related so much to your situation that I was finally compelled to say something to someone. I have, often, made my acne much worse by picking. I've been a compulsive picker since I started breaking out in high school (I'm 27 now). I examine my face closely, see that little white substance under the skin, and I just have to pry it out. Like you, I think this is partially anxiety-driven. I also do a lot of work from home - I'm a graduate student and spend long hours alone just reading and writing - so whenever I get writer's block or feel stressed out about an assignment, I just robotically head to the mirror and start picking at my face. Sometimes I don't even realize I'm doing it until after the damage is done. I have also started a new relationship, and I can totally relate to not wanting to get close to or sleep with someone when your skin looks bad. However, I've managed to reduce my picking to one or two days a week and let my skin calm down by the weekend when I see my boyfriend. I'm still struggling to completely stop picking, but here's what's worked for me: 1. Finding the right combination of products that keep the acne under control. I've tried diet and all that internal stuff, and nothing has worked for me. I think I will always be prone to acne, and it is just a matter of making my skin look presentable on the surface. Dan's regimen works well for me, and I've incorporated clindamycin into my routine (an antiobotic topical prescribed by my derm). I also started birth control again, and that has helped. Finally, I do a clay face mask once in a while to clean my pores and reduce inflammation. This also helps after a picking session. Everyone's skin is different, and you have to find what products work best for you, then stick to them. 2. Keeping busy and avoiding mirrors. I noticed that I'm more likely to pick just after I've washed my face: when I'm looking in the mirror closely. Try to do things around the house to prevent lingering in front of the mirror. Instead of heading there when you need a break from writing, try perform a household chore instead. Because of this, I haven't found wearing gloves to be a good deterrent, since they prevent me from doing these things. But it can't hurt to give them a try. I also turn out the lights in the bathroom and sometimes close the door so that the barriers make me more conscious of what I'm doing when I have the impulse to go pick. Sometimes I come to my senses and stop before I get to the bathroom. As a last resort, you could try covering your mirrors, but I haven't tried this. 3. Chewing gum. I confided to a friend, and he suggested that I chew gum when I'm feeling anxious. I didn't believe this would work because I thought that was just for people with oral fixations, like smokers. But chewing gum has reduced my anxiety, and as a result, it sometimes reduces my urge to pick.  4. Notice how much better your skin looks when you don't pick. While my skin is never perfect, it looks a million times better when I'm not scabby and inflamed from picking. Most people will not look at your skin that closely enough to notice every imperfection, so it's often best just to leave these suckers be. Take a picture after you've had a few good days of non-picking and leave it up as a reminder. Also, pimples are easier to cover with makeup when they aren't scabby and inflamed. 5. Don't worry TOO much about what your boyfriend thinks of your skin. We're our own worst critics, and I've found that guys often don't really noticed my acne. Other people are not as critical of us as we are! And, as my sister once said to me when I cried to her about having a bad pimple before spending the night with my boyfriend: "It's not like he'll be looking at your face." Haha. Sorry for rambling. It's late, and I hope my post is somewhat coherent. I hope my advice helps, but at the very least, please know that there are other people who share your struggle! Good luck!