This post is a contribution from one of my program graduates, Patricia:
I’ve learned a lot about myself through skin picking. I learned, for example, that I try to escape my negative emotions (and the guilt that I have those emotions) by being detail-oriented and perfectionist – a recipe for skin picking. It comes out in other ways too, like when I suddenly became a self-appointed skin care “expert” while desperately avoiding studying for organic chemistry. Skin picking is somewhat of an obsession, a fixation. An unending quest for perfection where, in fact, I’m making it worse the whole time. What a lie!
But what if I could redirect my detailed, perfectionist, scrutinizing, obsessive tendencies into something positive? Something that actually helps me.
Starting simply, I challenged myself to re-direct. Obviously, my skin is suffering. Let’s get “obsessed” with improving my skin (but actually this time). So I did what I do best, I scrutinized. I picked through literature and criticized articles. It became a form of picking where I wasn’t the victim anymore. Maybe the cause of my skin picking, my obsessional nature, wasn’t fully gone yet, but most importantly, I had a positive outlet for it.
The most helpful thing that came out of this for me was to create a habit around moisturizing. I pick at my fingers and any unevenness turns into temptation. After roughly (no pun intended) 15 years of picking, I have some callouses on my thumbs that could rival any cowboy’s. It’s critical that my fingernails find less to grab on to. Using a great quality, heavy-duty moisturizer has been surprisingly one of the simplest but most effective things I have done for myself.
I’d tried moisturizing before, but the creams were never heavy enough. I even tried prescription-grade Amlactin, which contains lactic acid to help exfoliate your skin. The acid made my skin-picking wounds burn. Instead of smooth hands and negative conditioning away from skin picking, I gradually began avoiding the sting. Now, I use Lubriderm Advanced Therapy and coconut oil in very thick sheets all over my hands before bed. (I haven’t graduated to using cotton gloves during nighttime but there’s an idea.) To lock in moisture, I try putting on the moisturizer within three minutes of wetting my hands. So after washing my face is the best time. Also, I make sure to add a small dollop to my fingers before leaving in the morning and keep a lighter moisturizer in my bag and at work (check out the travel section at a drugstore). I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much such a little thing could help, but the most important aspect of this change was channeling my perfectionism into something more helpful than harmful. While I do many other things to try and help my skin and picking habit, getting serious about moisturizing has been one of the most successful changes I have implemented.
p.s. Have you downloaded my free “Freedom Kit”? It comes with a written and audio report, “Why you pick your skin and how to finally stop,” a video on “how to stop skin picking urges in two minutes flat,” and my “Live Free” newsletter in your inbox each month. Learn more here.