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To me, skin picking has never really been about beauty. At least, not very much.

At first, it was about pain and fear. I've always had very clear, very fair skin. Only once in a while would I get any blemishes, but they would be BAD. They would instantly become cysts overnight, one single truly visible mound somewhere on my face. Impossible to ignore, not just in terms of looks. They would itch, ache, burn, pinch and throb on my face for days, weeks and months. Being such a large infection so deep under my skin, creams and ointments were useless. Pretty much the only solution was a needle and a tolerance for pain.

Then they just came more frequently, lasted longer, and gave me more hell. The physical pain alone became impossible to ignore, mirror or not. Sometimes I would be reading a book or typing on the computer and suddenly realise that I was scratching at my face. Again. My face picking started as a desperate need to not be in pain any more. I once got a cyst on my inner brow near my eyelid, which gave me migraines of all things. From a pimple!

"How pathetic" I honestly thought to myself. That my life was taking me in this direction. I never got much acne as a teenager. I'm an adult now! I saw my doctor, I finally saw a dermatologist, I got my pills and creams, and yet I still pick at my face.

I don't have cysts anymore. I only have tiny pimples. But the memory of such pain and shame makes me want to pick so much more deeply. My mind says I want it to never come back. That this blemish will be the last one forever!

Which brings me to my topic title. My skin picking has developed psychologically into a kind of bulemia on my face. I can't stand the sight of any blackhead, or pimple. The compulsion is to purge myself of what my brain has deemed "impure". That I will somehow become a better person without these clogged pores deep under my skin.

Don't worry, I know exactly how messed up everything sounds. I want to change. I want to let myself heal and resist the need to purge my face. To accept that my skin is susceptible to infection and that I will have imperfections now and in the future.

Then I go into the bathroom and see that zit just under the surface of my skin, and I clench my fists and shake my head and hate myself more and more. "Maybe this one will be one of those ones that comes right out with no mess!" My brain tells me. It's never true. There's always blood and raw skin involved.

And of course, with any sort of purging, the initial satisfaction comes crashing down and the guilt and shames washes on me. I look at the huge wounds I've created with my hands. I look at the scars which will probably never go away, and I cry. I hate myself when it's inside my face and I hate myself more when I purge the "badness" out.

I'm not really sure if I know how to stop now. It's become a stress-related response. I go out, I feel self-concious about people looking at my skin, I go home, I pick. I want to stop, I really do. Maybe writing this can help me start.

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Hi,

I can really relate to your post. I've had problems with picking over the years, and yes, cystic acne started it too. There is a real fear involved, just as all OCD involves fear on some level. I think the trick is to work on that fear. If you have a zit work hard on telling yourself it is ok and go out and do things as normal. This would be a kind of exposure therapy. If you pick to get rid of it and then hide out while it heals you will just create more anxiety than if you just went out with the zit and got your mind on other thihgs. I also have anxiety about scars on my face, but I'm learning I still have to live life and go on. Also the less you do with your cleansing and makeup routine the better as you don't want to give your skin too much energy or it will turn obessive. It takes maturity to realize we are imperfect and accept it. Good luck.

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