At the request of one of our readers, I decided it was time to discuss the whole “picking problem” that many of us have with our skin. We often think of picking related to how to prevent acne, but picking also causes a host of other skin problems.
So, I thought I’d begin with a brief overview of how bad picking really is for your skin, then, I’ll give some tips that can help you break the habit.
This topic hits close to home, because I, too, am a picker, and despite how bad I know it is, I can’t seem to stop. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.
How Picking Damages the Skin
I know most of us who are pickers have acne. And yes, it is very tempting to squeeze that zit, but by doing so you can cause the infection to go deeper into the pore, causing worse inflammation. Plus, you break the skin, which leads to scabs, which often leads to more picking and eventually leads to scarring.
Blackheads may seem a little less risky, since you’re not breaking the skin, but by squeezing you can stretch the pores, causing enlarged pores or open pores that will never close. I have a few of these open pores and I am kicking myself now for it. The truth of the matter is you will never be able to unclog your pores with your fingers, only a pore cleanser or AHA face treatment can do that.
Another form of picking is just picking for the sake of picking. This is usually more of a compulsive disorder. I do this without even thinking. I run my fingers along my face looking for an imperfection, a bump, a dry skin patch, and I begin to pick at it. Of course, this only damages my skin and results in more scars. Also, every time you touch your skin, you introduce more bacteria into your pores, which can lead to more acne. And the whole vicious cycle starts over again.
Picking also causes your skin to age more quickly. In addition to dark spots from scars and inflammation, the constant tugging and pulling at the skin will cause you to lose elasticity, resulting in sagging skin and face wrinkles.
Check Out Our Tips to Stop Picking!
Tip #1: Mind Over Matter
As the saying goes, when there’s a will there’s a way. Some people swear by straight out willpower for overcoming bad habits. And I have to admit that most of the time this is how any bad habit will eventually be broken. You simply tell yourself not to do it—over and over and over again until it sticks.
Tip #2 Call a Friend
If you can’t tackle it on your own, enlisting the help of someone else can definitely help. In my case, if my husband notices me touching my face, he’ll tell me to stop. Co-workers and roommates are also great for this. Sometimes just having someone else who is aware of what you’re doing is enough to help you break the habit.
Tip #3 Bribe Yourself
When I was a child, my aunt helped me to break the thumb-sucking habit by rewarding me with a quarter for every night I went without sucking my thumb. Before I knew it, I was free of the bad habit, and I had a pocketful of quarters.
You can motivate yourself in the same way by paying yourself for every day or week you go without picking. This reward could come in the form of new makeup, skin care, or even a new outfit or shoes. If you can’t keep yourself honest, refer to tip #2 and call a friend.
Tip #4 Punish Yourself
Personally, I like the bribing better, but for those of you who still can’t seem to break the habit, punishment may be the best option. This is similar to the “swear jar” that many families have growing up. You can create a “pick jar” and put money in it every time you pick or you could give up something important to you for every day or week you can’t stop picking. Ask a friend to help keep you accountable.
Tip #5 Remove the Temptation
Stop looking in the mirror. I know this is difficult, but often looking in the mirror is what prompts us to pick. Of course you’ll have to look at yourself in the morning when you’re getting ready for the day, but try limit any other mirror time to quick glances. Don’t carry around a compact if you know you have a problem with constant checking of your appearance.
Tip #6 Cut Your Nails
I know you love your long nails, but if they’re cutting up your skin, you’ve got to get rid of them. It’s definitely more difficult to pick with short, stubby fingernails. It’s a small price to pay for beautiful skin.
Tip #7 Wear Gloves
I know this one may sound silly, but I actually did this for a few months. I wore gloves at the office and at home to prevent myself from picking at my face. Now, I have to admit it was winter, so it wasn’t too crazy to see me wearing gloves anyway, but this extra layer of fabric made me much more aware of how often I was touching my skin and prevented any damage.
Tip #8 Keep Your Hands Busy
Most of the time, my picking occurs when I’m bored. Occupying my hands with other things makes it much easier to stop the picking. Work usually isn’t a problem since I’m busy typing most of the day, but home is another story. So, next time when you’re sitting in front of the TV, you can try to keep your hands busy with something else. Knitting, cross-stitching, writing, texting—anything to keep your hands off your face.
So, there you have it. There’s no quick fix to breaking this bad habit, but we hope these tips will help you get moving in the right direction. If you have a serious picking problem, you may need to see a psychologist to get additional help. If you have any tips that have helped you to stop picking, please share. We want everyone to have healthy, happy skin.