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Post Your Anti-Picking Strategies!

stop picking acne skin picking

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#1 princessdaphne

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 06:42 PM

Some ones I've heard:

- put a rubber band/ hair tie around your wrist and snap it when you feel the urge to pick
- avoid mirrors
- cut nails short to avoid further damage
- when you must be in front of a mirror, use low lighting

Does anyone know of any others? I have a bad problem with skin picking and need help really badly!

#2 yetti_90

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 04:04 AM

i stop myself picking by focusing on other areas of my body. for example if i want to pick, i pluck my leg hairs instead!

#3 LizzLemon

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:27 AM

good topic idea! i find that most of my picking happens during moments of boredom and stress... here are some strategies that i posted about recently on my skin picking log...

Here are a few things that got me through the weekend:
1. Reading a book or magazine that really catches your attention - it requires two hands to hold it, so you're kinda tied up! plus if it's really good you will escape into the story.

2. Paint your nails! this obviously ties up your hands for a good hour and it's fun :)

3. Go on a walk with a friend... this is especially helpful if you need to "get out of your head" for a little while. listening to others takes the focus away from your bodily fixations.

4. this is the biggest one for me: try to transfer your fixation/obsession from picking to a skin care regimen. i do my best at not picking when i obsess over The Regimen. i'll obsess over the specific instructions of gentle application and no touching/picking. i'll start to trust in The Regimen so much that i won't touch my face the entire day so that i am following the instructions to a "T." ...while this does NOT work all the time, it is certainly helpful. it's the one thing in the back of my mind that keeps saying, "don't touch your face, don't touch your face."

...but as i read this, i think the biggest help is going to acne.org and reading the forums and sharing experiences. some of us have a hard time reaching out to friends in person and the next best thing is talking to our friends online! Posted Image

good luck, y'all.

Edited by LizzLemon, 06 March 2012 - 10:27 AM.


#4 PaulH85

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:58 AM

The biggest motivation for me has been the fact that things visibly improved when I reduced picking. I found that when I saw those improvements, I wanted to keep that up. After just a few weeks, I was relying less and less on the strategies I put in place as I gradually started to curb the habits.

Like Lizz mentioned, my biggest triggers and boredom, stress and anxiety. I used to pick because I was bored, literally for something to do. When I think about that now it seems crazy, but it seemed perfectly normal to me at the time. I guess I just couldn't see that it was the wrong thing to be doing. There was a sense of control in picking and it often had a calming influence when I was anxious or stressed, and needing to satisfy that evidently outweighed my desire to quit at the time.
So now I try and preempt those situations where I might be bored or anxious. The first one's difficult for me because I don't have much going on these day and in fact, I gave in to that at the weekend for the first time in a month or so when I found something I could pick at. Just the one, but all the same, it's better to stay strong. By the same token, if there's a chance I might end up in a situation where I'd be anxious or stressed, I try and think about how I could handle that particular situation in order to keep those feelings at bay in the first place.

In terms of practical steps, I try and avoid looking in mirrors unless I actually need to use one; if I'm washing, I only stay for about thirty seconds and I'll step away from the mirror as soon as I'm done; I stand about a foot away from the mirror so that I'm not up close and scutinising my skin; I keep my fingernails short so that I can't really get at stuff; and I always try and be mindful that whatever I do won't actually improve things and that the sure-fire way to help clear acne and allow our skin to heal is to not pick.

I also agree that talking about it helps. It used to be like a guilty pleasure of mine and I don't suppose that was healthy either. When I started talking about it here, it kind of took that away. Plus there's a comfort in knowing you're not on your own because picking in itself can be quite an isolating experience. I feel like I have those sure-fire methods available to me now to keep my success going all the time, but it's not something I came up with by myself. It's almost all stuff that I learned from talking about it here, which just goes to show how good and useful that can be.

Be kind to yourself and be gentle with your skin and the results will come. Posted Image

#5 Dancexnxthexrain

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 01:04 AM

Some ones I've heard:

- put a rubber band/ hair tie around your wrist and snap it when you feel the urge to pick
- avoid mirrors
- cut nails short to avoid further damage
- when you must be in front of a mirror, use low lighting

Does anyone know of any others? I have a bad problem with skin picking and need help really badly!



I don't know what anyone has said on here thus far but wearing gloves is a suggestion for stimulus control. I have struggled with dermatillomania for a long time and have yet to really find the answer to controlling this addiction but I think the best thing to have is willpower. There is a website called stoppicking.com and it is a program online designed to help people quite, I have not used it but that could help too :]

#6 princessdaphne

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 06:23 PM

Thanks guys! My biggest triggers are stress and boredom too. I already wrote this in my personal log, but my newest approach is a sort of reward/punishment system. I won't let myself go shopping with friends this weekend unless I can manage to not pick until then! And I am seriously sticking to this! Wish me luck, because I reaaallly need to go shopping!!! :)

#7 PaulH85

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 07:38 PM

Wish me luck, because I reaaallly need to go shopping!!! Posted Image


Posted Image Like your style! It's a good idea, the whole reward system thing. Hope that works for you.

When I first tried to stop picking, I wanted the resulting clear skin to be motivation enough but I slip now and then. Still haven't found the best way for me to stick to it. The punishment/reward thing doesn't fit for me because I kind of feel like I'm punishing myself all the time, emotionally, I mean. Even if I don't pick and my skin's good, I still don't feel good or particularly like myself, so perhaps I'll have to find another way to focus and motivate.

I've made a mess of my right cheek these last few days. Well, it's not seriously bad, but that's relative; it's a mess compared to this time last week when it was totally clear. Now I've got four inflamed pimples which would have been nothing had I left them alone, along with what's essentially an open wound after I picked at one area for several hours on Saturday. There wasn't even anything there, I just picked and picked. Don't know why, feeling down I guess. :rolleyes:

The worst thing is actually knowing what the outcome will be, but then doing it anyway. I really don't understand it. I mean, I know that if I put my hand in a flame, I will get burnt, so I don't do it. I can't understand why the same restraint doesn't apply to the fact that if I pick, I know that my face is going to be open and sore, I'm going to feel really depressed and angry, locking myself away for however long it takes for the damage to heal. I used to have to suffer through those periods when I was employed, but at least I was in a "normal" routine. Since I got fired from my job - partly because of things I was doing because of my issues with my skin - I can hide away. It's good in the sense that the pressure's off, but extremely bad because I'm now totally off the radar, the outside world barely knows, and I'm trapped in this loneliness of my own making. That all adds to how I feel and triggers picking, so it just goes around and around... :(

Seems stupid and hypocritical how I can advise and support others, yet I'm so bad at following my own advice and supporting myself. I guess it really does come down to finding your own best strategy, and also what I said before about being kind to yourself.

#8 princessdaphne

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 07:37 PM

Seems stupid and hypocritical how I can advise and support others, yet I'm so bad at following my own advice and supporting myself. I guess it really does come down to finding your own best strategy, and also what I said before about being kind to yourself.


Not at all stupid or hypocritical! You give the best advice on acne.org!!! I know we all really appreciate your thoughtfulness in your posts :)

I, too, wish that clear skin/improvement would be motivation enough for me! I don't know why it isn't. But even if I tell myself my skin will get better if I don't pick it, I STILL pick it! Luckily, today I managed to resist picking. Hopefully I can keep it up! Before my most recent bout of picking, I had been doing pretty well for a couple weeks, and my skin did show improvement. I really hope I can go back to that! But I really did make a mess of it- I have scabs on my forehead now that will probably scar :( I feel like such a fail because my skin already scars (or at least leaves really dark marks that never seem to go away) and I'm only 14. No offense to anyone, but I don't want to be like the many people on this site who still suffer from acne as an adult. But it sucks because I know I probably will and that even if my acne goes away, I'm probably stuck with marks and scars for life. :(

#9 PaulH85

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 10:21 AM

I feel like such a fail because my skin already scars (or at least leaves really dark marks that never seem to go away) and I'm only 14. No offense to anyone, but I don't want to be like the many people on this site who still suffer from acne as an adult. But it sucks because I know I probably will and that even if my acne goes away, I'm probably stuck with marks and scars for life.


Don't worry about it too much. If you learn from those previous mistakes now and stop the picking becoming a hard habit to break, you'll be alright. Plus, at 14, your skin will still be changing and developing through your teens, It will naturally be healing and constantly regenerating at this point. There are a lot of positives in that respect, as long as you try your best to avoid picking as much as possible.

I totally understand the anxiety about the length of time acne can last. It started for me at 13 and I never thought I'd still be battling at 26. That's half my life and it just feels worse trying to deal with it as an adult. Sure, there are people who are dealing with it who are older than me, some even twice my age, but it' still easy to get down about my own circumstances because we naturally get wrapped up in our own troubles.

Hopefully you can get back to resisting picking as the days go by and you start seeing those improvements again. It's all worth it because not only does our skin heal and we reduce the chance of scarring, but it also minimises the chance of more acne forming to be begin with. I think I've been lucky this week in that respect.
This time last week, I picked the right side of my face to pieces and it's still healing. In the last week, I've had no acne anywhere else. Not even a single pimple. It just shows me that if I had left the right side alone, that would be totally clear as well and I'd at least be able to look in the mirror and be okay with what I see. This last week has been a right-off; a total waste because I've hidden away the whole time while my skin's healing. :rolleyes:

Personally, my biggest concern is that I wasn't actually picking acne this time last week. There was nothing there, I was actually picking at my face. I've never done that before and it's kind of worrying. I used to be obsessive about picking acne, I don't want to end up being an obsessive, compulsive skin picker too...
Guess I'll just have to try and keep things in check. Need to learn to feel better about myself and like myself on the inside, then maybe that will translate and I'll learn to like and take care of what's on the outside too. :)

#10 shherr

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:20 AM

At one point, I stopped by coming up with sanctions/punishments for when I did pick. It was for a sociology project though and didn't last long.

I've clipped my nails really low and still managed to pick.

I noticed that I do it when stressed, so I try to deal with stress in a better way.

I actually don't pick in the mirror. Seeing the aftermath in the mirror usually horrifies me.

I recently developed a "bad" habit of lightly slapping myself when I realize I'm doing it. It's not a painful slap. Idk how that even started, but it's probably not a good idea.

I think keeping myself busy in addition to stress management are the things that have worked best for me.

#11 Froom2

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 06:02 AM

Hi there,

I have recently decided that it is time for me to stop my skin picking habit. I am turning 26 in a few days, and thanks to encouragement from my boyfriend I have become aware that it isn't normal for me to be picking at my skin, when really there isn't anything wrong with it.

So the last few days I have been on a mission to find strategies that work for me, and address the situations that trigger my skin picking.

So far, the strategy I have found the most useful has been writing down whenever I start to 'have a go', the time and what bit of me I was trying to pick. Sometimes I have found that my subconscious gets sneaky and will start picking when it knows I haven't got my notebook handy - like when I'm sitting on the loo!!! Yikes. So that has really helped, because I'm starting to become more aware of when I'm starting.

My itchy, dry skin has been a huge trigger. It will sometimes start out with an itch, and then my fingertips feel an imperfection.... and then that's it for a few moments (or hours on occasion....) - I zone out with picking.

I'm afraid to moisturise, because I can't decide if my skin is oily anyway, and anyway, it still feels itchy even when I do moisturise. Does anyone else have any info on this?

The one other thing that I have noticed, is that I now feel very idle, almost lost, when I want to pick. I was in an office meeting today, we sat outside on the grass, and I noticed that I couldn't stop picking at the grass. I looked around, and no one else was grass-cutting, so I thought that maybe the act of picking grass was acting as a substitue for my skin picking... and if that was the case, then maybe if I can find something like that to do when I'm just sitting at my computer feeling idle then that will help too? Does anyone have any ideas of what I could use in this way? I'd love some bubblewerap, but it's kind of expensive :(

~Froom2~

#12 sandycheeks

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 06:11 AM

I didn't get bad acne until the past 2 years. Im in college, in the education field, so i feel immense anxiety. I go to a therapist who tried to say in the nicest way possible that i need to stop being self-concious- or better yet vain, self obsessed, absorbed....Which is the truth. Because no one cares if I have a little pimple on my face or not! I origionally was discussing my problem with blushing. Blushing alllll of the time. When i talk to anybody! I cant even get up in front of the class because i blush and then seriosuly everyone in the world has to tell me im blushing as if i wasn't aware. but the same thing goes for the acne and the picking. I know in my heart that it doesn't matter, that no one actually cares. I was made aware of how serious my skin picking is when my boyfriend told me he didnt like it, then set out to pull my hands away from my face back and chest every time I reached to pick. But i realized that when he does it my heart drops and the urge to pick that very spot becomes stronger and sometimes i even end up makign an excuse to leave the room and pick it. Which is sick, i know. My mom always told me to stop picking btu it goes in one ear and out the other. but now my boyfriend is seriosuly on top of it. And i'm realizing how often i do pick my skin. which is basically NON STOP.

I read the suggestions here but i feel like none of them will work for me because even having a person next to me pulling my hands away doesn't even work!

When I googled this to see if anyone else had this problem I was happy to find alot of information- But alot of it say this is a disorder?
Is this something I should talk to my doctor about or dermatologist?? I've gone to a miiiiiillion dermatologists (i recently had melanoma and have also suffered acne. dermatologist visits=my life) and not one had said anything about my skin picking and scars.

#13 TribalMisfit

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 07:54 PM

I have been picking my skin since about 8 years old, when I got acne at around 12 things got out of control and I was constantly bleeding. I have even picked my scalp until it bleeds. I know that its really gross but thats what I did. I would pick my skin every single day, sometimes even subconciously.

I remember telling myself every single day I will not pick I will not pick... but I always went back to it and found it comforting.

I have improved out of sight because of a few reasons, mainly that I started taking anti-depressants which really helped with my mild ocd (which was the skin picking)

some tips I learned are

-tea tree oil helps numb the skin... using a water soluble tea tree solution on your face will kill bacteria as well as numbing the skin which makes it less tempting to pick at.
-fake or gel nails really do help with picking, even very short nails can still pick badly. Keep your nails in good con dition and paint them if you cant afford fake nails
-keep busy, if you are with friends or around strangers you wont pick as much as when you're alone
-tell your parents, your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner and good friends about your problem and tell them to alert you every time you start to pick as sometimes you don't even realise you're doing it and all you need to stop is for someone to point it out
-wearing cotton gloves at home can help if you have the willpower to keep them on :)
-work on any underlying mental problems that may cause you to pick (most very bad pickers will have a reason behind it)

#14 Nilan

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 07:38 AM

Fake nails! I've been using them for a couple of days now and I haven't picked at all. Partly because it's too difficult and partly because I don't want to ruin the nails. I definitely recommend them.

#15 =shiki

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 08:34 PM

also you can try calender

where you just note each day you didnt pick and/or count how many days you havent picked. you can also set certain goal, how many days you need to endure. and then just each time you get to the goal, extend it some more..some more and so on. sounds easier than to be done however.

#16 thestruggle18

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 10:47 AM

I don't look in the mirrom

I don't look in the mirror!

#17 snsdgirl14

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 11:00 AM

-don't look in the mirror too often
-cut your nails
-breathing exercises lol
-put a band aid over things that have already been picked, to prevent picking AND promote good healing. I had a mark I picked soo much at that scabbed over and looked horrible so I put a band aid on it for a couple of days. It healed beautifully, you can barely tell it was there anymore!

#18 iskaestar

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 05:07 PM

This site has a been a huge "strategy" for me! It prevents me from messing up and it encourages me to move forward if I already have.

#19 mammasay

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 11:34 PM

A lot of my picking is anxiety, like I'm keeping my fingers busy to distract myself from my brain racing a mile a minute, or as a way to get that energy out or something. Meditation really helps me. Getting myself to actually sit down and tune out and meditate is the hard part, but when I do, it works.

The thing that helps me the MOST is thinking about how dirty my hands are, and how much infection I'm causing. This isn't the most productive in terms of addressing the underlying anxiety, because I just obsess about cleanliness instead of obsessively picking my skin, but the way I see it if I'm gonna obsess about something, I'd rather it be something somewhat productive! It's really at the front of my mind because I think I have a staph infection on my face right now (which, YUCK). I've had staph at least once before and it is most likely completely caused by my own picking, and might even be the entirety of my acne problem right now, which makes me really upset. Here's what I do:

- When I start picking or want to, I go wash my hands with antibacterial soap or rubbing alcohol, and wipe the area I'm picking with rubbing alcohol or apple cider vinegar, followed by diluted tea tree oil solution. It's gotten to the point where I will keep my face basically "sterile" for as much of the day as possible, and then I won't want to even touch my face because I'll have to go sterilize it again.

Other things that help me with picking and anxiety:
- positive affirmations
- deeeeeeep soothing breaths (close your eyes and breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7, and breathe out through your mouth for a count of 8, repeat)
- listening to my favorite songs, painting my nails, knitting or other crafts, reading my favorite books/essays; do something that makes you happy and focus all of your energy on that
- exercise
- go for a long walk, preferably through nature with a dog Posted Image
- If all else fails, take a hot bath with some essential oils (I don't know about you but I can't pick when I'm wet)

And yes, as someone else said, perhaps the best advice is to deal with the underlying anxiety or stress, whether through meditation or therapy. I never pick when I'm really content and relaxed.

Edited by mammasay, 09 October 2012 - 11:37 PM.


#20 Tootsler

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 10:44 PM

I agree with all of the above. However, I have a question -- what if you have a white head? Do you literally not pick or poke at all.... just let it fade? I have never been able to do that. I would love to hear success stories from people that have walked around with a whitehead and not popped it. Sometimes I can apply ACV and it will calm down but I usually end up popping it. What do you guys do?