Below, you'll find up-to-date, useful skincare products for the treatment and management of dermatillomania. A summary of the skin-picking disorder is just below, and the article ends with more resources for those suffering from dermatillomania. I suffer personally from dermatillomania and aim to provide hope and support to others who have the same disorder. You're not alone! - Kay
Dermatillomania, commonly known as 'skin-picking' is an excoriation disorder. This disorder affects many people who also suffer from anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar, or other mental illnesses. Dermatillomania is an intrusive, destructive, painful, and often embarrassing disorder that affects around 2% to 3% of the general population (SP).
These numbers seem small, but 3% of the population equals around 22.8 million people (not including the high number of unreported cases). Some research even suggests that 1 in 20 people may suffer from dermatillomania, raising the previously estimated number to 38 million sufferers.
What is Dermatillomania?
This skin-picking disorder is precisely what it sounds like, the behavior of repeatedly and uncontrollably picking at one's skin. Dermatillomania is an impulse control disorder and Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB).
This disorder can cause plenty of physical and sometimes permanent damage. Many people with a skin-picking disorder pick at the pores or skin on their face, chest, arms, legs, hands, and more, until scarring, bleeding, or open wounds occur.
A similar condition, trichotillomania, differs from dermatillomania. The sufferer doesn't pick at their skin but pulls their hair and damages hair follicles. These body-focused disorders, or Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs), can co-occur and cause excess tissue and hair follicle damage.
“It feels like the ultimate loss of control. Loss of control over my own body. How it feels, how it looks, what it does to itself. If I can’t control these things, what can I control? It feels like helplessness, hopelessness, and unworthiness all tied together into something others tell me I can just stop doing.” — Nikki G.
“I don’t have hobbies. My skin is my hobby. Constantly reading, researching and trying to figure out why I do this, how can I stop and what is wrong to make me want to pick and pick and pick.” — Lauren D.
“I [sit] in front of a mirror with tears streaming down my face, telling myself not to [do] this again. But knowing until I’m a bloody mess, literally and figuratively, I can’t pull myself away.” — Nikki C.
“It feels like not even letting your closest friends see you until you’ve put cover-up on. It feels like masking pain… It feels like I’m ruining my body. It feels lonely.” — Cat R.
Rose-Minded has previously discussed dermatillomania in an article called, "5 Ways to Treat and Manage Dermatillomania [Skin Picking]." This article gives tips and tricks used by the author, myself, to manage and treat my own dermatillomania.
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The before and after picture above shows my dermatillomania progress as I learned the products and practices that worked, and the ones that didn't. The following seven products are recommended by my personal use or by other dermatillomania sufferers. Keep checking back, we will be updating this list as we find new skincare products recommended by us or others! If you have a recommendation you would like to be included, leave us a comment below to let us know.
7 Skin Care Products for Dermatillomania/Excoriation Disorder
Pick and choose from the following products below if you suffer from a skin-picking disorder.
(I'm not a doctor or psychiatric professional, so always consult with your doctor if you have any concerns! This post includes affiliate links, for more information see Rose-Minded's disclaimer for all disclosures.)
I've received raving reviews about the fantastic qualities of Bio-Oil not only from the internet but friends and family as well! This magical oil heals acne scars, evens skin tone, and moisturizes your skin deeply for all all-over glow.
If you suffer from dermatillomania, apply Bio-Oil at night to your face, neck, chest, or anywhere that needs moisturizing. The oil will help heal scars and marks.
Many reviews of this product, First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser, are very positive! Its pH balancing qualities (pH level of around 5.5) are important for protecting the moisture in your skin and avoiding further irritation.
One reader commented on the importance of pH balance in skincare for skin-pickers so we included this option. We replaced African Black Bar Soap with a pH-friendly option for facial cleansers; be sure to check back often for updated products and information!
3. Blue Light Acne Treatment
This light is a skin savior! I received the Blue Light Acne Treatment as a gift, and I've been using it ever since. The blue light safely kills bacteria in and on your skin, while simultaneously healing acne scars and preventing blemishes.
After just using this device for a couple of weeks, I was able to see noticeable results. My only recommendation is to apply moisturizer to your face directly after use.
Sunscreen is one of the most underrated skincare products. On top of acne, scarred skin, and marks no one wants to deal with sun damage and wrinkles too!
Here's what they say:
"The 2010 Winner of Elle Genius Award for Skin, Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 offers not only UVA/UVB protection but also treatment for skin discoloration and acne. Its oil-free, light texture goes on smooth, leaving behind no residue on the skin. This product maintains skin health by freeing skin of fatty acid levels and reducing redness. This oil-free, non-comedogenic formula can be worn with or without makeup."
Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap comes in plenty of different scents and varieties. This soap cleanses deeply, leaving your skin feeling thoroughly clean.
Use this soap in the shower for the best results! I always use this soap as a body wash to clear out any excess dirt or debris, usually by lathering it up and exfoliating.
Clean your face with the castile soap first, then use a moisturizing cleanser after.
I've spoken about this foundation in a previous post about dermatillomania because it's just that good. The foundation is extremely lightweight so it won't clog your pores, but it still offers full coverage! Here's an awkward video of me explaining how much I like this foundation.
Use a few drops of your face and blend each morning, the SPF 15 sunscreen protection will also help guard against sun damage and aging. Wearing a good foundation helps me feel confident during the day, and prevents me from fixating on spots to pick. It's not a drug store price, but it's above drug store quality. Consider adding this to your self-care budget plan if you want to save up!
7. Kate Somerville Acne Spot Treatment
A spot fix is always a helpful solution when a pimple is forming, or when you need to get rid of a big red spot fast. A small container is also helpful for storing in your purse if you need an emergency spot fix after a sleepover or during travel.
"Kate's bestselling EradiKate™ Acne Treatment is formulated with the highest level of sulfur allowed to fight blemishes, reduce acne, and prevent new breakouts. BHAs help visibly reduce pore size, while natural mineral zinc oxide controls oil by absorbing excess sebum."
"Clinical Results: In an independent clinical study after just 1 hour:
- 94% showed visible improvement of breakouts"
Other Useful Resources for Skin-Picking
If I could recommend any product for skin-picking, N-A-C would always be first. This supplement helps strengthen your immune system, brain, and lungs and is exceptionally beneficial for those with OCD or impulse-control disorders. I've been taking this supplement for a few months now, and I can completely notice the difference.
N-A-C helps reduce those strong urges to pick, it doesn't eliminate the urges, but I can always tell throughout my day if I remembered to take my N-A-C that morning. Always talk to your doctor before trying a new treatment option! I received the recommendation straight from my psychiatrist so be sure to communicate with yours if you're interested in taking N-A-C.
I'm sure you've heard your mom, wellness advocates, and health gurus alike tell you that "you need to be taking probiotics!" Well, they're right! Probiotics not only help your digestive system, intestines, brain functioning, and immune system, they also can help clear up your skin.
Your digestive tract has tons of influence on your skin, your mental health, and your physical health. Taking probiotics can positively impact a collection of organs and bodily functions, so listen to the people encouraging probiotics and grab some!
Tips & Tricks for Skin-Picking
Always, always, always wash your pillow sheet (at least once a week)
Set a timer and record your progress during a time you often pick, track these times
Cut out dryer sheets- the waxy residue will stick to clothes and towels and could cause you to break out (switch to dryer balls!)
Get acrylic nails, or paint them if that works for you. Having acrylic nails always prevents me from doing a lot of damage to my face (compared to when I have sharp nail edges)
Replace the behavior. In a previous article, "How to Finally Succeed at Breaking Bad Habits," I discuss the importance of finding the function of a behavior, so instead of eliminating a routine, find a healthier alternative!
Wear makeup. You read that correctly; when you wear makeup and aren't reminded throughout the day of your pores, scars, marks, or blemishes, then you could be less likely to pick at your face (this is the case sometimes for me). This may not be beneficial for everyone so use this advice cautiously. Find out what is best for you and your skin.
Clean off the front of your phone screen, not only if it touches your face, but because your fingers touch it constantly. Imagine transferring new bacteria to your face, especially if you have open wounds.
Don't over-medicate your skin with topical solutions. Your skin and pores need to breathe, and they can't do that if you're continuously applying products to an irritated or inflamed surface.
Drink water! This will help the excess dirt and grease flush out of your pores, so your acne heals faster.
Find a distracting hobby. Use this hobby if you ever feel the urge to pick (make sure it's a hobby you really enjoy, that way it's motivating). Switch up your hobbies as you need to reinforce motivation and keep things fun.
Think about where you pick most often on your body. Can you cover this place up so it's out of sight, out of mind (ex. chest, arms, legs)?
Think about when and where you decide to pick. Is it in the bathroom after you wash your face? Or is it in your room when you're sad/bored? Notice these patterns so you can be proactive in your recovery!
Resources for Skin-Picking
Elements Behavioral Health - Call Today: 888.648.1941 (US); 562.521.0608 (International)
Modern Therapy - Use the discount code 'roseminded' for your first week of therapy, free.
Use these tips, resources, and skincare products to help aid your recovery from dermatillomania. The skin-picking disorder has no guaranteed treatment options, therefore success in recovery is uniquely independent. Mix and match the treatment paths to find the solutions that work in your favor, and remember there's always hope and you're never alone.
Don't let dermatillomania cause you to hide your beauty in shame, embrace challenges, and work to make a difference in your own life. Living with a body-focused repetitive behavior is difficult and distressing, but it doesn't have to define you.
If you ever have questions about dermatillomania, treatment options, my personal routine, etc. you can message me by visiting Rose-Minded's contact page. Comment the products, resources, and tricks that work for you in the comments below (and scroll through others') to find more helpful tips for skin-picking.
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