I found myself nearly in tears two weeks ago, having picked every last bump from my back and arms, covered in bright red spots like chicken pox. I had dabbled before in regimes for clearing the acne that plagued my back. But the horror of staring at my swollen and spotted skin pushed me over the edge. Something must be done.
There were two problems as I saw it:
The picking and the acne. (And a third, which was the result of the first two: the scars)
Stopping the picking was up to me. It was mental. I grabbed a pair of mittens and secured them to my hands with rubber bands. If I couldn't mentally stop myself, I'd need to out-wit my anxious fingers. The picking itself was about much more than the act. It was self soothing, cleansing, exerting control. But the damage far outweighed the sick seconds of pleasure I got from it.
Agreeing to stop was the first step. I put it down on paper. "I refuse to tear at my skin any longer. I will not enable this behavior any more. Today it ends."
Then came the hard work. Each time the urge came up on me to scratch, I balled my hand into a first and held it away from me. I clipped my nails to the nib. I the wore mittens. I flicked my fingers and tapped things around me. Anything else was fair game. Skin, off limits.
The next step was to heal the damage and the acne beneath. With my doctors advice, and much internet research I set out to create a treatment plan. Typical over the counter SA washes had never worked, neither had the Duac gel I had been prescribed (admittedly, I never applied it on a regular basis)
I began with Hibi-Clens wash, used in the shower at least once a day. That was followed with an AH moisturizer (CVS brand, Alpha-Hydroxy Lotion). After a few days I added CVS Skin Treatment Oil, which contained vitamins A & E and healing calendula extract for the picked places and scars. For good measure, I also used BP gel to spot treat the worst breakouts.
The oil helped immediately in healing the scabbing spots (particularly those on my arms), and in a week I was nearly back to an even-toned slate. It took every inch of determination not to pick the flaking scabs. For the worst places I got hyrdocolloid band-aids to heal and protect (they were amazing).
In two weeks, the acne on my back was reduced by almost 50%. My lower back was almost entirely clear of new breakouts. Discolored spots still remained. To amp up the process I started taking Epsom salt hot baths before bed time, applying the lotion and oil after. Another 20% improvement was had. Almost all the swollen or inflamed pimples had subsided.
Which is where I find myself now.
The picked at places on my back have not all entirely healed yet, the newest are still red, though smooth. Scattered among them are older scars in shades of brown. Going forward it remains to be seen if the breakouts are really gone for good, and if something can be done for these spots.
I have begun taking flax seed oil, vitamin d, and a multi-vitamin daily. I have gotten Arnica Gel to also aid in the healing.
So from here, the schedule (not including face)
Shower with hibi-clens
Shampoo that is sodium laureth sulfate free
No conditioner, or very careful use to avoid contact with skin
Spot neosporin on still red areas
Hot bath with 1 cup epsom salts (if time permits)
BA spot gel
Vitamin Oil and/or Arnica gel
Neosporin + Hydrocolloid bandaid on few places still red.
White t-shirt to prevent bleaching.
Under consideration: Mederma for scars, turmeric, vinegar, additional vitamins.
And most important of all: clean short nails, a strong will, and patience.
Here's hoping for continued improvement.