26 Tips for Skin Picking: A to Z

Featured Image for this article: a person's neck and shoulders, covered in scars from skin picking

Alone time can be a trigger so make the right choice even when no one is looking.

Band-aids: try the advanced healing ones or small spot band-aids. Use them on your pointer fingers to make it harder to pick when you're reading or studying.

Cover mirrors with the Sunday comics so you will not be triggered by the sight of imperfections when washing your face or brushing your teeth (you don't need a mirror to do either). Use masking tape to secure comics to the mirror- it's easy to take off.

Dim the lights; this can make it harder to see imperfections. You can also use lower wattage light bulbs in locations where picking occurs.

Enjoy life; don't wait until you stop picking to do so. Doing more of what you enjoy can help you feel better and can give you the energy to resist skin picking.

Facial brushes can provide sensory stimulation to the skin without you directly touching it. There are many nerve endings on finger tips which are like detectives seeking out what does not belong so it's helpful to cover them.

Gloves: try texting gloves. Be sure to wear gloves during the cold months if you are prone to picking while driving. Cotton gloves can be a part of your bedtime routine; picking while tired is common since you have less energy to resist.

Hands have a mind of their own so make it harder to pick; lotion makes your hands and skin slippery so you can't get a good grip.

Instant gratification is short-lived. Think long term satisfaction.

Journaling is a good way to process the day's events and it can reduce the time spent processing while picking.

Know your triggers; whether it's a big test coming up, feeling bored, or a few changes at once, knowing what leads to picking can help you create a plan to reduce it.

Let others know how they can support you. Some ideas: hugs, encouragement, listening, or suggesting an activity to take your mind off it. You can encourage loved ones to read more about skin picking at The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors' website, www.bfrb.org.

Mindfulness skills of observing and taking a non-judgmental stance can help. Observing can increase awareness and that's the first step towards changing a behavior. Being non-judgmental is a gentler approach than beating yourself up with words.

Neosporin spray is a good way to treat a wound on the face since it's less greasy than the petroleum based anti-biotic ointments. Most drug stores have a generic version.

Be Open-minded about new strategies. You won't know if it works if you don't try it. Most people need a variety of strategies to combat skin picking so try using a combination and not relying on just one.

Post-it notes: use them to remind yourself that skin picking is not how you want to spend your time. Small post-it notes can be used on the edge of lap-tops. It will take time to develop new habits and reminders can set you up for success.

Quit beating yourself up mentally as it can make matters worse and lead to more picking. Try to talk to yourself as a positive coach would such as, "Ok, that didn't go as planned but let's re-group and focus on what I can do to feel better."

Rubber finger tips can make it hard to pick. They come in different sizes and can be found at office supply stores.

Self-soothe with your 5 senses: touch, taste, smell, sound, sight. Make a list of a few items that can help you relax for each sense.

Timers can help; set one to go off every 5 to 10 minutes when you're studying or reading to make sure you are not picking. Most phones have timers and can be set to repeat. Also use timers for showers – try to beat the clock and get in and out of the bathroom quickly. Lay clothes out ahead of time and get dressed right away to reduce chances for scanning skin and picking.

Use your tools. Keep them within arms reach if possible and if out of sight, it's probably out of your mind too.

Visual imagery can reduce anxiety and stress. You can write your own; pick a favorite location like the beach or a mountain retreat, then add details about not only the sights and images, but also the sounds and smells that you would encounter there. Scented candles, soft lighting, music and sound machines can help create a serene ambience.

Wear tights or footed pajamas if you pick at your legs to make it harder to do so.

eXamine your thoughts before, during, and after picking to uncover permissive or distorted thoughts which may lead to increased picking.

You are not alone. You did nothing to deserve this. You can learn to manage it.

Zoning out can happen while picking so gently tell yourself to stop when you realize what you are doing. It may take many times of saying this before you stop. Remind yourself that this is not how you want to spend your time and make the right choice.

Self Help Strategies
Skin Picking