In a former life, I was a pimple popping queen.
Every time I saw a whitehead crop up, I couldn’t resist. I had to pop it. And you know what? It was gratifying, satisfying, and euphoric.
Fast forward 15 years:
I’m haunted by the craters of pimples past.
Read through the article for tips on how you can stop yourself from popping pimples.
Why You Should Curb The Habit
Before we get into the tips, let’s look at the potential physical harm that you’re causing yourself when you pop a pimple.
SKIN SIN #1: Scarring
Okay, so you squeeze-squeeze-popped your pimple. What’s the worst that can happen?
Messing with pimples (especially cystic ones) can push pus, bacteria, and dirt deep into your dermis (aka the second layer of your skin), causing inflammation. And inflammation can damage the neighboring collagen, elastin, and blood vessels that live inside your dermis.
In other words, popping can buy you a one-way ticket to scars-ville. When you get there, you’ll encounter one of the following:
- Icepick scars
- Rolling scars
- Boxcar scars
- Keloid scars (Although this scar formation is rare for pimple poppers, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.)
SKIN SIN #2: Infecting
Your skin is a lot like armor. It shields you from potential harm.
When you tear your armor open (with a pimple pop), your skin won’t be able to protect you anymore. And all that icky stuff—like dirt, bacteria, environmental pollutants, etc.—can gain entry.
So what’s my point?
Open wound + bacteria = infection.
SKIN SIN #3: Bacteria-spreading
Unless you live inside of a bubble, you’ve probably touched a couple bacteria-ridden objects today. You know, like a toilet seat, a parking meter, or even an elevator button.
Touching your face after you touched something nasty is a big no-no. In this case, you’re just asking for more breakouts.
Tip #1: Throw Away Your Magnifying Mirror
For pickers, magnifying mirrors are pretty much a gateway drug.
Sure, things might start-out innocent enough. But the more time you spend in front of a magnifying mirror, the worse it gets.
You start seeing things that no one else would ever notice. Hours pass and you’ve extracted every minuscule bump, blackhead, and vellus hair.
So, you flip over the mirror to look at yourself (via the un-magnified side). And you shriek in horror. And that’s because you’re a red, splotchy, over-picked mess!
Nobody—and I mean NOBODY—looks good when they’re zoomed-in by 8x, 10x, or even worse, 15x.
That’s why you should do everything in your power to get rid of the damn thing. Burn it, hide it, throw it away, give it to charity. Anything. As long as it’s gone.
Tip #2: Write A Message On Your Bathroom Mirror
Staying away from any-and-all mirrors is optimal but it sure as hell isn’t practical.
I mean, it’s not like you can chuck-out your bathroom vanity because (a) that would be weird and (b) your landlord won’t appreciate it.
What you can do is write a mirror message. You know, something to remind you that you shouldn’t pick your skin.
The message can say something like:
- No picking, bozo!
- Your body is a temple.
- Go gardening, check Instagram, bake cookies, (insert activity of choice).
Or you can even tape a picture of someone else’s skin picking woes—do a Google image search.
The possibilities are endless.
Tip #3: Keep Your Hands Busy
Skin picking thrives under two conditions:
- Alone time
It’s best to keep a few activities on deck so that you don’t default into your compulsion.
Personally, my fave alternate activity is playing Sudoku—yes, I’m an introvert. And I definitely recommend any kind of gaming to occupy your hands.
On the other hand, you could also choose to engage in some kind of interpersonal/physical activity.
It’s up to you.
Tip #4: Wear Foundation
After spending a bunch of time on your makeup, you won’t do anything to mess it up, right?
At least that’s what I tell myself.
When choosing a foundation, go for something that non-comedogenic, so that you don’t inadvertently add fuel to the fire.
Tip #5: Watch Pimple Popping Videos (Or Stop Watching Them)
Reading through Dr. Pimple Popper’s comments on YouTube, you’ll find a whole community of ex-pickers who recognize these types of videos and their skin-saviors. In fact, watching other people pop their pimples (and their cysts) will often relieve the urge to pop your own pimples.
But be careful.
Others find it supercharges their compulsion.
Tip #6: Seek Therapy
Skin Picking Disorder (SPD) is a compulsive habit that’s in some ways related to OCD.
If you’ve tried to stop picking numerous times (but can’t get into the swing of things), there’s absolutely no shame in getting help. And the sooner you seek help, the better.
Picking out a therapist is probably the hardest part, especially for newbies.
So look out for therapists trained in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and HRT (Habit Reversal Therapy) as these are the two suggested armchair treatments for the disorder.
Wrapping It Up
When you finally stop popping your pimples, you’ll find that your skin will become more even, clear, and beautiful. And, on top of that, you’ll have so much more time on your hands.