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    28 People Share How They Keep From Picking Their Skin

    Genius strategies from people who deal with it.

    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.

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

    @missysabs / Via

    "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

    3. Watch gross pimple-popping videos instead.

    "Watching Sandra Lee's Dr. Pimple Popper videos discourages me from picking because my own skin seems so unexciting and unrewarding compared to the stuff she does!"

    —Ennis Skalski, Facebook

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

    @snake_the_kate / Via

    "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."


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


    "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!"


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

    @cassiee_x / Via

    "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."


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

    "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

    "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

    "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."


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

    NBC / Via

    "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

    "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

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

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

    14. Or learn to crochet little thumb hats that will help you not pick.

    @hopetheblackdog / Via

    —Susan McNally, Facebook

    15. Carry around little squares of bubble wrap to pop when you have an urge.

    16. Or a worry stone you can rub.

    @rinellabean / Via

    "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."


    17. Or occupy your fingers with spinner rings. / Via

    "I have a really nice one that’s a little silver band inside of a larger one and I play with it whenever I get the urge to scratch or pick."


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

    @mysticskullivine / Via

    "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."


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

    Submitted by fondafeeling / Via

    "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."


    20. Draw on yourself with pen instead.

    @xxbeautifulxprincesxx / Via

    21. Play repetitive phone games.

    "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."


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

    @imsophunny_ / Via

    "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."


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

    24. Wrap scotch tape at the ends of your fingers during your downtime.

    @jaefac3 / Via

    "Crunching the edges also helped take the edge off wanting to pick."


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

    Submitted by SapphireBlues / Via

    "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."


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

    ZinZen / Via

    "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!"


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

    "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."


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

    Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed / Via

    "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

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