Excoriation disorder sucks.
Whether you’re picking at your lips or your forehead or your fingernails or your scalp, it can take up hours of your time. It can chip away at your sanity. It can make you feel insecure and unable to control your impulses.
Here are a few tips for anyone who suffers from skin picking so you can start your journey toward a healthier you:
1. Keep your hands covered at all costs. Wear gloves. Wear hats. Wear acrylic nails. Wear bandages (or scotch tape) over your fingertips. Make it as hard as possible for you to pick at your skin.
2. Keep fidget toys on you at all times. Stick a fidget spinner inside your pocket or purse in case you feel the need to pick. You can also try using silly putty, a stress ball, rubber bands, hair ties, pipe cleaners, bubble wrap, or fidget cubes.
3. Stop examining yourself in the mirror. If looking at yourself is going to trigger you skin picking, then you should cover your bathroom mirrors with a blanket. If that’s not possible, leave the lights off whenever you use the bathroom so you have trouble seeing yourself.
4. Take better care of your skin. If you get your nails done, you won’t want to ruin your cute designs by picking. If you get your hair done, you won’t want to ruin your new style with picking. If you moisturize your face and body, you won’t want to ruin your skin with picking. The more you pamper yourself, the more reasons you’ll have not to pick.
5. Limit your time in places you commonly pick. If you pick whenever you use the bathroom, set a timer for yourself when you shower. When you use the toilet, make sure you’re out of the bathroom by the time the flush ends.
6. Distract yourself with a similar sensation. Peel the skin off fruit. Scratch at your dog’s ear. Run your nails along a textured pillow. Hold an ice cube in your hand.
7. Fidget with whatever is around you. If you can’t stop yourself from picking, find a replacement for your picking. Spin a ring. Twirl a pendant. Click the head of a pen. Tap on a desk. Flick the sound switch on your phone back and forth. Use whatever you have nearby.
8. Get rid of the tools you use to pick. Cut your nails too short for picking. If you use tools, like tweezers, throw them in the trash or have a trusted friend hide them until you actually need them.
9. Use your hands for good. Sketch. Crotchet. Write. Sew. Create.
10. See a therapist. You might have visited a dermatologist for tips on how to clear up the skin you’ve picked, but they aren’t going to get to the underlying root of your problem. If you want to stop skin picking, you should see a licensed therapist. If you don’t have enough time or money to dedicate to therapy right now — of if you’ve been struggling to find a therapist in your area who actually knows how to handle clients with excoriation disorder — then you can try checking out a book like Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop. It provides you with the tools you need in order to start conquering the illness on your own.