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Hi there,

The intention of this thread is to create an ongoing list of tips and tricks to help ease the urge to pick! I'm sure many of these tips are things you have already heard of, but I over the course of the last 6 months I have managed to decrease my obsessive skin picking dramatically using a combination of these techniques. This list is not exhaustive, feel free to add any suggestions, and good luck! 

Mild exfoliation
My skin leans towards being quite dry, which means I can suffer from some skin flaking, which always results in picking, because if I find something to pick at, I am going to pick it until it's "gone." I have found that very gently exfoliating twice a week has helped to improve my skin cell turn over and decrease the amount of flaking skin I suffer from. I also feel that it is important to keep to some kind of very gentle skincare routine, as it satisfies the urge to touch the skin in a gentle, healing way, rather than through the act of picking.


Hide the mirrors
The first thing I was worried about when I decided to take down my bathroom mirror, was leaving the house with food in my teeth, or worse, on my face. But I came to the conclusion that I would rather have tomato soup in the corners of my mouth, than a bleeding scab on my face that I had picked the night before. I now have one mirror in my house, it is in the bedroom where the light is dim enough to keep me from assessing my skin too closely, but just enough that I can make sure I look presentable. 

Take a step back
This tip is related to hiding the mirrors. I haven't kept up this tip because of the inconvenience over time, but it was a fantastic tool when it came to breaking the habit. I have a tendency to look at myself in the mirror, then move a little closer, then a little closer, until my face is 2 inches away from the mirror and I can see every single pore. No one will ever look at your skin this close, so you don't have to either. Take a step back. For a few weeks I draw a line on my bedroom floor with fabric chalk (which rubs away with a cloth when necessary) about 5 foot away from my mirror, and promised myself that I wouldn't step in front of the line. It worked very well to remind me that there was no benefit in getting so close.

Occupy your hands
This is a huge one for me. I am a 'scanner,' so when I sit and watch television, or read or use the computer, I will scan my face with the tips of my fingers for something to pick at, and little bump will do, and then I will pick and pull at it without even thinking. Sometimes I don't even pick I just scan my skin for hours, because my brain has somehow learnt to find comfort in this physical action. It was important for me to create physical barriers to try to break this habit. One thing I have found a great help is using a Tangle Toy. I bought two on eBay and they have been  immensely helpful in satisfying my need to fidget and have my hands occupied while I am concentration. Another option is gloves, which I have used with good results, though I find that I tend to get lazy with them after a while, as I have to take them on and off to use my computer and cook etc.

Magnesium
I have no scientific proof of this, but I have personally found that eating a magnesium rich diet has helped to calm the frayed nerves that lead to my picking. I include a teaspoon of cacao powder in my smoothies and eat plenty of omega-3 and magnesium rich nuts such as almonds and cashews. Of course this is not to be taken as medical advice, but it is important to remember that diet can have a drastic effect on your skin, since food intolerances lead to inflammation in your body, and therefore inflammation on your skin.

Don't beat yourself up
Quitting picking is a journey just like any other addiction, and it takes commitment and determination. There will be setbacks and you will relapse. You might have kept your hands away from your face for three whole days, until you finally crack and reach for that magnifying mirror. But please don't beat yourself up. The fact that you are trying to stop is a huge accomplishment! It is important to allow yourself to make mistakes as you readjust and learn to find new methods of coping.

Throw away your tools
This was difficult for me. I had a picking 'kit' of sorts. A small makeup bag with a collection of picking tools and trinkets. Such as a magnifying mirror, a lance, 2 kinds of extractors (one for pimples one for blackheads) and some antiseptic liquid. I have come to understand that I associated these tools with the feeling that picking gave me, which was some kind of relief. This was a very damaging emotion as I came to feel as though throwing away these tools would be throwing away this feeling that I thought was so precious. I know now that picking tools are damaging. The worst damage I have done to my face is with a magnifying mirror and an extractor, so there is no excuse. Throw the tools away, throw the temptation away!

Keep a picking log
For a month I kept a consistent diary of my picking habits. This meant that every time I picked, I would get out my note pad and write down the time of day, where I was when I picked, how it made me feel while I was picking and what I felt afterwards. This worked well for me in two ways; it helped me to identify the locations, emotions and time of day that I was most vulnerable, which allowed me to attempt to create effective barriers to avoid these situations as much as possible. Secondly, as my brain began to associate picking with the chore of writing everything down afterwards, I was less inclined to pick.

Try to understand why you pick
Throughout my picking-quitting-journey, I have come to realise that picking, for me, is a twisted form of self control and  self harm. When my acne was at its worst, and nothing was working, I felt completely lost and out of control; I found a calmness and serenity in picking, because I felt like I was 'doing' something, like I was 'fixing' it. I also realised that I used picking as a tool to get myself out of situations I was nervous about; because I couldn't possibly go to that party if I had picked my skin bloody an hour before. Identifying these triggers was integral to my understanding of my habit, and therefore my slow recovery.

I will continue to add to this thread and hopefully build up a helpful collection of information from people who have experienced the difficulty of skin picking themselves. Please feel free to add!

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This is amazing!!! It is such a mental thing. I literally went to therapy to find out what correlated with my skin/picking obsession, and obviously it was several stress inducing factors. While I can't eliminate these factors, I can control my own two hands. Not picking has completely transformed my skin. 

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9 hours ago, katie.davis82 said:

This is amazing!!! It is such a mental thing. I literally went to therapy to find out what correlated with my skin/picking obsession, and obviously it was several stress inducing factors. While I can't eliminate these factors, I can control my own two hands. Not picking has completely transformed my skin. 

Hi Katie,

Agreed. I think skin picking often starts out as an innocent attempt to "fix" ones skin. But it's a dangerous habit that can become quite deeply ingrained. Stress is a huge factor for me too. Congratulations on beating your skin picking, it sounds like you are doing well. I'm glad you thought the tips were good. Hopefully they'll be of some help to people who are struggling!

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Hi there, 

I've picked my skin more or less every day for the last 9 years. I know it's really bad for me and I want to stop, but I feel like I can't and the urge will never go away. Any advice/support?

thanks.

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39 minutes ago, LSilverg said:

Hi there, 

I've picked my skin more or less every day for the last 9 years. I know it's really bad for me and I want to stop, but I feel like I can't and the urge will never go away. Any advice/support?

thanks.

Hey,

Have you tried any of the tips in this post or found any of them helpful?
I think the best first steps to take are covering up the mirrors that you regularly use to pick. Try laying a piece of clothing over them or turning them to face the wall. If you feel the need to look at your face, only do it very low light, and standing at least 3 feet away from the mirror.
Also throwing away and tools that you use (extractors, magnifying mirrors and tweezers for example) and investing in a tangle toy to keep your hands occupied when you're feeling the urge to pick or scan your face!

Hope this helps,
J

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This is so helpful! I can definitely relate to almost everything here! I often scan my face too and don't catch that I've started picking until it's too late:smileys_n_people_58: hopefully I can get rid of this nasty habit. I'm glad it worked out for you!
 

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Hey @bonniesstory!

I'm so glad you found the post helpful. Face-scanning is the worst. I'm terrible at leaving my skin alone. I've found that if I am not touching my skin my hands start roaming around my scalp sometimes, looking for something to mess with. I really recommend one of those tangle toys or something similar, to keep free hands busy at all times.

Good luck!

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13 hours ago, DavidYokota said:

Thanks for sharing this amazing article.

Hey David,

No problem! I'm glad you found it helpful. Hopefully I'll be adding to this soon, I've got some new tips to share.

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