The time to pack away winter clothes, coats and scarves is upon us. For some,
it means a loss of security. Wounds on the skin are difficult to hide when it’s 85 degrees, and long sleeves look out of place. For those of us who struggle with skin picking, the concept of relaxing by the pool may not be a comforting image.
There are many reasons people give in to the urge to pick their skin. For individuals who live with psoriasis or eczema, dryness and itching can make it feel satisfying to peel away scabs. When acne or even the occasional pimple strikes, it’s the desire to make that nuisance go away. In some cases, dermatillomania, a repetitive behavior disorder caused by stress, anxiety or other reasons may be the root issue of skin picking. The causes may vary. But we have all picked at our skin, and we all know that it’s an unhealthy habit.
If skin-picking is something we all occasionally do for one reason or another, the next best thing to going cold turkey is learning about the risks and how to combat infection.
The Risks of Skin Picking
When you break the skin either by picking or popping that pimple, you create an open wound, vulnerable to bacteria. Most wounds will heal on their own if scabs are not disturbed, but infections—including staph infections–are a reason for concern and need proper treatment. Signs of infection are skin redness, feelings of heat around the affected area, visible pus and fever.
If skin-picking is habitual, the tissue is at risk for permanent damage. The repercussions can be severe and, in some cases, require grafting to repair the tissue. Picking at nails and cuticles, although not uncommon, can damage nail beds and lead to pits in nails or “puffy” looking cuticles.
When the dermis (the deep, thick layer of skin) is damaged, scarring most often results. Acne scars are among the most common type of scars, and they are made considerably worse by skin picking.
Our skin is our largest organ–and also the most visible. When we have wounds that are exposed to the world, the self-confidence we all strive for becomes a challenge. Skin picking can feel satisfying at the time, but the after-effects are most certainly not.
When it is Necessary to Seek Medical Help
Minor or occasional skin picking is not too concerning. Using a cleanser like CLn on the compromised skin is recommended for skin prone to infection. And addressing contributing factors also helps.
Repeated skin picking that damages skin or skin picking that causes deep wounds requires a visit with medical professionals for instructions on the best method for skin recovery. Doctors or nurses can advise on the proper wound dressings, antibacterial measures and behavior modifications necessary to heal.
For people who live with more severe dermatillomania, there is a way out. If
you or a loved one have a habit you find impossible to overcome alone, remember that there are other people like you. Behavioral and pharmacological treatments are available so you can begin the recovery process of healing from the inside and out. Skin picking can be difficult to deal with, but the healthy skin that results when we stop is a gift.
Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The information, graphics, and images on this website are not intended to substitute diagnosis and/or treatment by a medical professional. These products have been clinically tested and proven to be safe for intended use. Always seek the advice of a physician with any questions you may have regarding a specific medical condition.