Are you a picker? Do you spend hours in the bathroom clawing and aggressively pressing at the whiteheads or ingrown hairs on your face? If you have these face picking sessions, chances are you are left with bleeding scabs and, if you did a good job, scars.
According to dermatologists, this habit is linked to anxiety. In fact, some people go as far as using blackhead extractors and tweezers for hours until their faces bleed. This issue is cyclical and chronic. Some people pick their face more when stress flares up.
The danger is picking does not only leave your face with scars and other skin problems that may be caused by the spread of bacteria. It also causes some people to feel dejected and have self-esteem issues. In some serious cases, skin picking is linked to panic and obsessive-compulsive disorder. There are cases where sufferers go through a condition called parasitosis, where they believe bugs are living in their skin.
The Solution to face picking
The good news is picking your skin is not an incurable condition. Depending on the severity, there are a couple of ways to address the issue. In most cases, people approach their dermatologist to help with the problem.
In extreme cases, however, the dermatologist will recommend for the patient to consult a psychologist for a cognitive behavioral therapy. Before this, however, there are steps you can take to stop picking your face.
1. Enlist a Trusted Person to Remind You Not to Pick Your Face
Enlist a family member, partner, or roommate to knock on the door when you lock yourself in the bathroom to pick your face. Sometimes all you need is a reminder not to do it. With the help of a trusted person, you can snap out of your obsessive-compulsive behavior and find a solution to your problem.
If you live alone, you can still remind yourself by using post-its or notes placed on your bathroom mirrors or walls. This method is very effective in jolting you out of the moment and reminding you what you should not be doing. In addition, you can also train yourself to look in the mirror for a short amount of time. Set an alarm and remind yourself to leave the mirror as soon as possible.
2. Address the Root Cause of the Problem
A reminder from a loved one or training yourself is a good step. Unfortunately, some compulsive picking condition is rooted from a pervasive mental issue. Obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety are some of these issues. Thus, some people struggle giving it up.
Although it may seem very trivial to some, it is a difficult condition to give up for those who suffer from it. If you feel like there is a deeper issue at work, do not be afraid to ask for professional help. Until you address the root cause of the problem, you will never be totally free from it.
3. Be Conscious of the Triggers
Recognize the triggers that make you pick your face. Among the most common triggers include a magnifying mirror, tweezers, pimple extractor, or even the bathroom or mirror where you constantly spend time picking your face.
Do your best to avoid these triggers. If possible, throw them away and be free of them. The lesser opportunities you have at picking, the more you train yourself into not doing it. This will help you feel empowered and get you through the road to recovery.
4. Unlearn the Habit
For most people, picking their face or skin is an unconscious habit they acquired. This behavior is called scanning. Sometimes, you may find yourself unconsciously running your fingers all you’re your face to scan for scabs, flakes, and bumps.
Despite this, however, you have the power to stop yourself from doing it. The best thing to stop scanning is to start by dealing with the driving forces that make you do it. Other than avoiding or getting rid of the triggers, another way to unlearn the habit is to create barriers where possible. For example, facial masks are great self-care tools, but they can also serve as barriers for picking.
5. Let Go of Wanting to be Perfect
Picking your face is oftentimes rooted from the desire of wanting to have the perfect skin. Self-acceptance is the biggest challenge that you will have to deal with, but once you get past it, you will find it is all worth it.
The less you think about wanting to be perfect, the more comfortable and happy you will feel on your own skin. This will help you deal with anxiety and obsessive compulsive behavior that is toxic for your growth.
Learn to accept yourself, which includes accepting your imperfections. It is only through this that you will feel there is no need to aggressively excavate your skin. This also means you will learn to take care of yourself in a productive and healthy way.
Finally, be okay with not getting it right the first time. Do not be too hard on yourself if you find yourself picking your face again. It is normal for people who have developed this behavior for years to backslide every now and then.
The important thing is to stop when you see it happening and continue with your treatment. Remember that the long-term solution is not face creams or make-ups and concealers. Your best bet to get rid of the habit for good is to start from within – by accepting your flaws and imperfections.