Dermatillomania Pt 2- Prevention techniques, what worked and what didn't
Saturday, 13 February 2016
Hello! Sorry for the short hiatus! I planned to blog whilst I was in Singapore, but our schedule was far too busy- I only touched a computer once the whole time! I haven't forgotten that I said I was going to continue posting about my experience with dermatillomania. Dermatillomania is the uncontrollable desire to pick at ones own skin, to the point of causing tissue damage. Please read Part 1 before reading this post.
I still suffer from it, but the desire to pick at my face seems to come in waves and it's pretty low tide at the moment for me. That means I am down to picking around twice a week. I have suffered from this condition since I started getting acne when I was 12 and I have researched and tried many different techniques to stop myself from picking my skin. I will detail in this post what has worked for me and what didn't. Keep in mind, hardly any of them were successful, which is why I am still picking to this day. Every one is different however, and what didn't work for me may work for you!
Things that worked:
1. Throw away any extraction tools.
For a compulsive picker, I cannot begin to explain how dangerous these tools are. I hung on to mine for years and prodded and poked my skin until I had little loop shapes gauges all over my skin. I got it into your head that I HAD to extract SOMETHING from my skin and would keep pressing and cutting until there was blood. These tools were doing me way more harm than good, so one day I gathered all of them up and threw them in the bin. My skin has thanked me since.
This may sound weird, but keep long finger nails. The longer they are, the better because it makes it extremely difficult to pop pimples with long fingernails! If you have to keep short nails for work as I did last year, you are going to pick whether you like it or not, so the next best thing to do is wrap your index fingers in tissues for hygiene and to avoid nail gauges in your skin.
3. Tell people.
This was terrifying because I am/was so ashamed of my condition and my inability to control myself. One day I broke down and told my SO everything and how much it was troubling me and it was a huge weight off my shoulders. Having him know about this is also extremely useful because (we live together) every time he notices I am taking a long time in the bathroom, he knocks on the door and tells me to get out, effectively stopping me from touching my face!
4. Get rid of mirrors.
This one is obvious, but also extremely difficult if you live with others. You do have control over your own bedroom though, so get rid of all mirrors in there. As for the bathroom, ours is shared so there wasn't much I could do about that. If you have your own bathroom you could remove the light bulb and use a candle at night instead. We did this when our light bulb blew and it worked wonders for those few days, plus it feels pretty cool to shower in darkness!
Things that did not work:
1. Preventative signs.
This is kind of lolsy, but I even tried writing on mirrors with lipstick and putting up post it notes that said 'Stop!' and other signs to that effect. Just nope, did not work at all, I just guiltily ignored the signs and went to work.
2. Trying a string/elastic around my wrist.
This one works on the premise that whenever you see the string around your wrist, you will be reminded not to touch your face. For me, if straightforward, in-your-face signs didn't work, there was no way I would heed a string on my wrist.
My SO presented me with a challenge- if I could go 1 month without picking he would give me $100. He wanted to help me so badly and I really appreciate his efforts but it didn't work. I did well for the first 1 and a half weeks, but then I started up again and lied about it. This made me feel worse and I came clean to him a few days afterwards and we stopped the challenge. Just goes to show how deeply this disorder runs in me, that being a dirt poor student, I couldn't even stop for money.
So much honesty in one post, but if this helps someone I will be so happy. If you suffer from dermatillomania, please let me know if any techniques have worked for you!