How To Break Your Skin Picking Habit

Updated 11/12/14. Picking at the skin, whether it is at blemishes or any other skin growth on the skin, is serious business. Some of the worst skin conditions I have seen have come from those that have been chronic skin pickers for years. I too, understand why people do this. I was always picking at my own blemishes (including my siblings when I was growing up) so when I found out that there was a profession where I could actually get paid to pick at people’s skin, I said “sign me up!” And for 25+ years now, I have been a practicing esthetician. (Note: Even though I got my own skin picking under control years ago, giving extractions to my client’s skin is still my favorite part of the treatment.) So if you’re a skin picker, how can you break this habit? Here are five helpful tips. 

1. Understand the psychological reason for why you pick at your skin. If you pick at your blemishes, chances are you do this simply to make a blemish go away faster. Picking at a blemish creating a bleeding, oozing scab which then leads to a post-breakout dark scar that lingers for months will always be far more noticeable than leaving it alone and letting it heal naturally. This is a fact. If this is the kind of picker you are, you must read my step-by-step instructions for what to do the moment a blemish appears to get it to go away fast with minimal scarring. If you are someone who picks at your skin compulsively due to a possible nervous habit and you just can’t help yourself, you may have a condition called Dermatillomania which can lead to severe skin scarring.  I suggest you consult with a physician or holistic professional to find ways to get this under control. It’s not often that I’ve seen clients who had this, but when I do, I can spot them a mile away.

2. Keep your hands busy. The No Picking! Twisty Toy was featured on The Today Show and is a fun twisty, twirly gadget that helps to keep your hands busy and off your face. This is ideal to use when driving in your car, at your desk, or anytime you feel the need to touch your face or pick. (Even if you are not a picker, this fun toy is a great stress-reliever as well.) Shop here.

3. Sign the No Picking Contract. When setting a goal and putting your mind to something, we all can use some accountability, so I created this free downloadable contract that you can sign and commit to keeping your hands off your face so you can be on your way to clearer, scar-free skin. Show it to your spouse or a friend and tape it on your bathroom mirror so you can keep it top of mind as well as someone to keep you accountable.

4. Put alarm reminders on your phone.
 We all love technology to make our lives easier, so why not use your phone to help remind you to keep your hands off your face? What time of day are you most tempted to pick at your skin? In the bathroom mirror in the morning or at night? Driving in the car? Set reminders like “I want clear skin and I will stop picking!” or “Don’t do it. I will regret it!” Whatever works for you, program it into your phone.

5. Lean on a friend for support. Don’t go it alone. Ask a trusted friend or family member to help keep you accountable. When you’re in a moment of weakness, call or text a friend to help you stay strong. Being accountable to someone else will always help anyone succeed in breaking a bad habit.

Read: 11 Common Causes Of Acne

You’re in a habit of picking at your skin and habits take time to break. Willpower along with keeping your eye on the prize (clearer, scar-free skin) is what it takes to overcome this. Once you start to see the improvement in your skin, this should give you the strength and encouragement to keep going so this bad habit will be behind you. I know you can do this!

See my recommendations for amazing acne spot treatments to use at home here.

Read: How Can I Fade My Acne Scars?

Read: Is A Cortisone Shot The Only Option For Treating Acne Cysts?

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

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