Skin picking disorder how can I treat it ?

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I have the horrible habit of popping all the pimples on my face, back, shoulders... even when they are microscopic. I can spend hours everyday in front of ther mirror damaging my skin even though I only have mild acne. Everytime I pop, I promise myself it will be the last time but I keep on doing it over and over again. Sometimes I just want to stay home and hide because I feel so bad and my skin is all messed up with wounds and scars. I put a lot of make up to hide everything and I hate going to places where I cannot hide (pool, sleepover...). I don't like to stay outside (in the sun) because I feel people can see every detail of my damaged skin. 

When I have a clean skin, I feel so good and happy ! People find me beautiful and I want to go out instead of hiding.

I don't know if I suffer from dermatillomania (skin picking disorders) because the causes of this disorder do not fit with my personnality and I don't feel mentally sick. I am always happy and energetic. I am never stressed or anxious : actually I tend to be very detached and unemotional.

I think I will hardly ever be depressed because I am optimistic as I always see the positive side of things. I have a good life, a nice family, I am successful in my studies, I also play music.... Only this problem keeps me from being fully happy and I don't understand why I suffer from it and how I can treat it.

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6 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi, have you went to see your gp about it?
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  • Posted

    Fantaisie, I could be wrong but I think you're very young. This kind of behaviour is actually very common among young people suffering from teenage acne. I can remember doing it myself. There's a kind of guilty satisfaction in popping pimples, isn't there?redface And it doesn't sound remotely like dermatillomania to me. That's a disorder where people scratch and tear at healthy skin. Quite different from pimple-popping.

    I suspect you've just been over-thinking this problem a bit, which has led you to concentrate even more on your spots and your imagined disfigurement. Have you ever tried discussing it with your friends? I bet you a pound to a penny you're not the only one doing this. When I was at school, we used to have pimple-popping competitions in the toilets!

    You could try going to your doctor but I can see several problems there. For one thing, he/she might be tempted to prescribe roaccutane for the acne. Although it works well for most people, it does have the unfortunate side-effect of triggering suicidal thoughts in young people who are already mildly depressed. It's been blamed for quite a few suicides among that age group over the years. The other problem is that you might end up being put on antidepressants or tranquillisers that bring their own problems, not least withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop them.

    You're clearly very intelligent and well-balanced, so I'd suggest you try and keep the doctor option as a last resort - unless, of course, you really are tearing at your skin, in which case you do need help. You sound like a perfectly normal teenager (or maybe 20 or so) to me. We all go through problems of this kind at your age. I honestly think you're concentrating far too much on your own appearance and not noticing that a lot of other people of your age - and of both sexes - have exactly the same problem.

    In the meantime, keep your skin clean by washing (max twice a day) with a suitable product. Your pharmacist can advise you on that one. And if you must pop your pimples - and I know you absolutely must, cos I've been there myselflol - try and make sure you do it with clean hands to avoid infections.

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    • Posted

      Hi, thank you for your reply ! I am indeed 18 years old. I may not suffer from dermatillomania and I know that many teenagers have this bad habit even though they know it's bad. But I really do pop way more that random people ! All my friends tell me I really should stop because I cross the line. My boyfriends says it's a "shame to ruin such a beautiful face". Sometimes, teachers or random people ask what happened to my face because there is scabs all over it when it was clean 2 days ago. I once went to a dermatologist and she told me I originally have a very good skin (with only very mild acne). She was shocked to see all the wounds and scabs on my face. She told me to stop popping until next time and I dindn't (it was worse). She tried again a second time but same result. She told me she couldn't do anything "The problem is not in your skin but in your head". She told me to consult a psychologist. She said I must be stressed, anxious or depressed about something.... my parents believed her. But I knew there was nothing ! Everything was good in my life except for this problem. That's when I began to search and learn about dermatillomania, skin picking disorder, excoriated acne.... I don't know if I suffer from one of these diseases but there is obviously a problem since a cannot stop.       
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    • Posted

      Well, Fantaisie - which is it? Sorry to sound harsh, but you're saying your problem is serious and that your dermatologist has advised you to seek psychiatric help... but that you know everything is good in your life. Why are you doing all the picking then?

      You need to get to the bottom of this before it ruins your life. Ask your GP if you can be referred to a specialist - preferably one who does CBT or DBT, which can be very effective for people like you. But you'll need to work hard alongside the therapist in getting to the root of your own problems. Treatments of this kind aren't a magic wand.

      I'm sure you'll find a solution to this upsetting problem.


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  • Posted

    Hey there. I have a similar problem although perhaps not to the same extent as yourself. I'm 33 now and have been doing it for years, fortunately I don't get too many spots on my face any more but my shoulders and back are often covered with small sabs and marks from where I have picked spots. It's such a strange thing. Like yourself I am very happy and have little to worry about, there is not a great deal of stress and I enjoy life. I doubt it will ruin your life but I understand that it can make you feel self-conscious. It is possible there is some deep rooted psychological cause but I have no idea where it comes from. 

    I work in drug services and in some ways it is like an addiction. Certainly a habit which is difficult to change. It might be worth looking into models of behaviour change and methods of overcoming addiction, you might find something useful. For example you might start by setting yourself small goals such as delaying when you start the bahviour until later in the day. Ie if you do it in the morning, see if you can put it off until later. It might be usful to identify when the behaviour usually occurs and try to put things in place to prevent it or at least be mentally on guard in those situations. Reward yourself for meeting your goals and gradually build on them.

    One other thing you could try (I have not tried this) is getting rid of all the mirrors in your house. I find that when I'm at festivals and things like that I do not pick myself as much. Partly this is because there is lots to do and I am distracted but it is partly because I do not have a mirror to hand.

    Hope you manage to beat it.

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  • Posted

    I have a Granddaughter that didnt pop zits issue but she would dig at her nose constantly and she actually damaged her cartilage...she is your age also. .I asked her one day why she does it..she answered she had a hard time breathing due to allergies, and her nose feels plugged up all the time.I guess sinus meds havent helped her.I also know that she has a border line personaility problem as diagnosed by her physologist.After my Granddaughter under went "Bio feed back"for this disorder it corrected this prolem for her.I definetly believe this could help you as it did her.This bio feedback has to be ordered by a mental health Dr. please get started so it doesnt damage you any further physically,or mentally.Good luck....blessings....  ("J)
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