Ever since I could remember, I always had to pick at something. When I was young, my nails were usually the main focus. Even putting on anti nail biting polish couldn’t stop me from chewing them up.
As a got older, I started to move away from nail biting and began picking my arms, then the skin on my nose. Skin picking has been a constant for most of my life, but there have been ways that I have managed it.
Keep reading to learn more about how to stop compulsive skin picking (also known as dermatillomania) and how to reduce your picking.
What is Skin Picking Disorder (SPD)
Skin Picking Disorder (SPD), also known as Dermatillomania is a mental illness that is usually related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It is characterized by repeatedly picking at one’s own skin that usually results in skin issues like skin lesions, scars, and more.
This disorder can also be caused by:
- Stress or Anxiety
- Negative emotions, such as guilt or shame
- Skin conditions, such as acne or eczema
SPD is also similar to the disorder Trichotillomania, the act of repetitive hair pulling.
While I do not have a proper OCD diagnosis, my skin picking is a direct result of my general anxiety. Whenever I feel pressed for time or stressed, I usually resort to touching or picking the skin on my nose. For me and others who suffer from this condition, we feel immediate relief and self-soothed. However, that can be very short lived. Specifically when this skin picking can affect skin negatively.
How to Stop Compulsive Skin Picking
As someone who suffers from this disorder, I know far too well how difficult it can be to stop picking. However, treating my anxiety has really helped decrease my picking.
Medication: Due to my anxiety, I decided to opt for SSRIs to control my obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. While no medication can fully undo learnt patterns and behavior, combining medication with Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has also worked.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy allows those with skin picking disorder to understand how their thoughts and behavior influence their repetitive behaviors. By identifying these anxious or negative thoughts, you can learn to change them, making you self-aware of your picking.
Gloves: Covering your fingers and nails is extremely important, especially when first learning how to stop picking. These Remedywear Adult and Kid gloves are perfect for preventing picking with stretchy and form-fitting material that stays put. There are some great 100% cotton gloves and mitten styles here.
How to Heal Skin Picking Scars
While medication, CBT, and gloves might help with prevention, what can you do to heal the damage already done? Although I no longer have scars from SPD, there are many natural remedies that I used to heal my skin from picking.
Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream: This rich balm is perfect not only for healing irritated skin, but I love to use it on my nose, so that my fingers are not able to grip my skin and cause further harm. With six all natural ingredients including manuka honey and manuka oil, it provides the necessary anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties SPD skin requires.
Coconut and Sunflower Soap Bar: While learning how to stop picking, it’s important to keep the skin that you do pick to remain clean. This coconut and sunflower soap bar is a gentle and nourishing full-body and face soap that contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Some Additional Tips
While the above are the most common ways to both prevent and heal skin from skin picking, here are a few other tips that might help you:
- Have a family member or friend hold you accountable
- Keep your hands busy – try squeezing a ball or use a fidget spinner
- Drink water
For more strategies on how to stop compulsive skin picking visit the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors here.
Laura is a contributor and content developer for It’s An Itchy Little World. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes. Please see It’s An Itchy Little World’s disclaimer for information about affiliate links and more.