back to top
Health

28 People Share How They Keep From Picking Their Skin

Genius strategies from people who deal with it.

Posted on

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us how they deal with skin-picking compulsions.

Excoriation (also known as dermatillomania) is a disorder that causes people to repetitively touch, rub, scratch, pick at, or dig into their skin in ways that result in physical damage — like skin disfigurement, discoloration, bleeding, or scarring. Effective treatment often involves professional help, but these are the tricks some people have found helpful — physically, emotionally, or otherwise — for dealing with skin-picking.

Remember: These aren’t meant to be medical recommendations, but they’re tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. And heads up, some of these responses contain detailed descriptions of skin-picking urges and behaviors.

1. Peel an orange — then pick off aaaall the white stuff — whenever you really, really need to pick something.

instagram.com

—Colin Wein, Facebook

Advertisement

2. Take care of any scars you might have to see if it lessens the urge.

@missysabs / Via instagram.com

"Bio-Oil is my savior! I put it on my arms, legs, and hips every morning and night — I swear, even being in contact with my skin and focusing on it lessens my need to pick!"

—Kristen Morgan, Facebook

4. Cut down on mirror time if that's usually when you fall down the rabbit hole.

@snake_the_kate / Via instagram.com

"Break the routine. Do you sit down in front of your vanity before you go to bed to take off your makeup and find yourself scrutinizing your pores — and before you know it, two hours have gone by and your face looks like raw hamburger? Take off your makeup somewhere like the bathroom where you’re not too close to the mirror, and then GO STRAIGHT TO BED, DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200."

TheLovelyAstronaut

5. Or bring reinforcements with you if you're worried about picking when you're alone.

NBC

"When I’m in public and it’s acceptable, I ask my girl friends to go with me to the bathroom. They don’t know that it’s because it keeps me from standing in front of the mirror and picking — they just think they’re going with me to gossip in private!"

madisonryansmith

6. Brush a bit of glue on your skin so you have something to pick off.

@cassiee_x / Via instagram.com

"I’m horrible about picking at the skin around my thumbs. During high-stress times such as finals week, I’ll put superglue (that comes in a bottle with a little brush) on the areas where I pick so that instead of picking the skin, I pick off the glue instead."

maddiew4c6278c31

Advertisement

7. Keep your skin/lips/nail beds/scars/whatever well-moisturized so dry edges are less tempting.

gifsofthe80s.tumblr.com

"My biggest problem is picking at the skin on my lips, so I try to keep them as moisturized as possible, and I always make sure I have chapstick on hand."

—Jillian Burgan, Facebook

8. Stock up on pore strips and peel-off masks for a similar sensation.

@paulinebeexx / Via instagram.com

"I still struggle with [excoriation], but I've managed to curb it, at least on my face, by using peel-off masks or nose pore strips."

—Casey Bishop, Facebook

9. Buy clothes that you love — and that show off areas you usually pick.

NBC / Via reactiongifs.com

"One thing that helps me is buying a really pretty strappy tops and then saying 'OK, I am going to wear this on Friday.' It gives me something to focus on, and if I can go the whole week without picking I feel so much better about myself."

—Christina Matangos, Facebook

"Wearing whatever I wanted. It sometimes is difficult when people make comments, but wearing a tank top when my arms were all bumpy and bleeding and owning it really helped me gain confidence. Looking at myself in the mirror, accepting that something was wrong, and realizing that I had the power over what I thought of myself helped me not hide from it."

monicaventurella

10. But don't be afraid to cover up areas that you're tempted to pick if that's what helps.

NBC / Via mydaywasworsethanyours.tumblr.com

"I know it's obvious, but sometimes I really just need that barrier. I pick my inner elbows, so I keep a sweatshirt around to put on if I need to cover my arms."

—Jackie Heaney, Facebook

11. Try out acrylic nails to make it harder to grip and pick.

@dermatillomaniaxsupport / Via instagram.com

"The only thing that ever worked for my excoriation disorder was getting fake nails that were too long/thick to be able to do any damage. I mostly pick my cuticles so I always considered it a win/win to have pretty nails and clean cuticles."

—Terry Cloche, Facebook

Advertisement

12. Or do your nails so you can pick the polish instead.

instagram.com

"I paint my nails so I can pick off the paint the next day/days or whenever it starts to chip. It makes my hands busy so that they’re not in my mouth (biting the skin around my nails or the nail itself)."

andigoneyp

13. Occupy your hands by making friendship bracelets or other things you can give away as gifts.

instagram.com

16. Or a worry stone you can rub.

@rinellabean / Via instagram.com

"I find it most soothing to have a smooth rock (like rose quartz) on hand to rub between my fingers. I have many around, some on a necklace or keychain. The cool smooth stone and repetitive motion help until the compulsion to pick stops."

kailyno2

Advertisement

18. Basically, try a BUNCH of different fiddle toys until you find the one that provides the perfect sensation.

@mysticskullivine / Via instagram.com

"The only thing that helps me is having something good to fiddle with… but it can’t be just anything. It needs to be satisfying in the right way, portable, durable enough to take my abuse, and engaging. Plus for me, I need to be able to use it with one hand, because I often pick when I’m doing work with the other hand. My favorite things that I’ve found over the years are:

# Tangle Relax Therapy. Inexpensive, small, durable, and it really helps with the anxiety that accompanies picking. It holds my attention and satisfies the urge to pick.

# Chinese finger trap fidget toy. Very good for absent-minded things… I play with them without even noticing and don’t even want to pick!

# This stress ball. Its heft and resistance make it better than most stress balls I’ve found.

# Porcupine balls. Something about the plastic poking into my skin helps with picking urges more than something flat."

aw545810

19. Try exercising as a way to distract yourself — and improve your mood.

Submitted by fondafeeling / Via buzzfeed.com

"Not only does exercise help by releasing a ton of endorphins, but it helps me focus on helping my body. It also gives a lot of different way to fidget or distract because you can work out in hundreds of different ways. I find high intensity interval training to be the most effective at derailing my habits because it’s so fast and challenging that it’s hard to think of anything else."

fondafeeling

21. Play repetitive phone games.

dailydot.tumblr.com

"It might sound silly, but Candy Crush and games like it can be very helpful. My hands would often mindlessly pick when they were idle, such as when I was watching TV, but playing Candy Crush allowed me to focus on the show and not pick my skin."

kyrac4ec3bc38e

Advertisement

22. Write gentle reminders (and affirmations!) on your mirror.

@imsophunny_ / Via instagram.com

"When I looked at my skin, it would prompt to pick at blemishes. Writing with an erasable marker to not pick my skin was a helpful reminder."

kyrac4ec3bc38e

23. Get into makeup as a way to relax — and to touch your face in a gentler, non-destructive way.

instagram.com

"I am a massive makeup addict. It’s relaxing to apply makeup, and prevents me from touching and picking my face."

olivian433c73a3f

25. Cover up the spots you usually pick at with blister bandages.

Submitted by SapphireBlues / Via buzzfeed.com

"The way I found that helps me with picking my acne is covering up my spots with cut up blister bandages. They cover up the acne and are a physical reminder to stop picking if I touch them. Since the bandages are made to be sticky all over, I can cut it up as big or small as I want to get appropriate coverage. They blend in pretty well with lighter skin tones, but I use them to stop my picking at home or at night, when I’m idle and more prone. Also they actually help the acne to HEAL, so I have a good reason for keeping it on."

SapphireBlues

26. Drink a sip of water every time you have an urge to pick at your skin.

ZinZen / Via zinzena.tumblr.com

"It works especially well if the water bottle has a screw-off top, or something that takes two hands to open. Bonus side effect: I drink way more water now and it has amazing health benefits!"

laurens4faa6b76c

27. Develop a skincare routine that helps make your skin ~less tempting~.

youtube.com / Via reddit.com

"Taking care of my skin to diminish my acne really has helped, because the less skin unevenness I have, the less likely I am to pick."

Jo

28. Above all, show yourself compassion and let go of the pressure to have perfect skin.

Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

"My expectations for clear, poreless, glowing skin is self destructive. My picking compulsions are contradictory to my actual anxieties. Squeezing a zit doesn't make it go away, it makes it irritated and more noticeable. Accepting imperfections is something I strive to do every day even if it's only about a single clogged pore."

—Emily Pollack, email

Want to be featured on BuzzFeed? Follow the BuzzFeed Community on Facebook and Twitter!

Promoted

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

Dismiss