Blockers and barriers can help prevent an urge from manifesting by creating one step between you and your skin. They serve to interrupt the automatic motion of hands-to-skin, which also helps in noticing the behavior or blocking the action altogether. They are most effective when implemented before a picking episode, especially in triggering environments or situations.
Whether you chose to cover the tips of your fingers to prevent contact to your skin or protect an open wound, a bandage will stop you from causing damage.
Waterproof bandaids, gauze, and wraps are helpful in covering large areas of affected, or triggering, skin. Pimple patches/ zit stickers and hydroquolloid bandaids are best used on small, targeted areas, making them more discreet than other options.
If you are concerned that changing your dressings may tempt you to pick, have someone else do it for you. Ask a loved one to swap your dressings, or visit a healthcare professional.
Various types of coverings can be effective in preventing direct access to the skin, especially for those who automatically pick and don’t realize it. Options include latex finger cots, silicone finger protectors (for guitar), and gloves.
People who pick in their sleep can benefit from wearing gloves at bed time. As a barrier in plain sight, adults may prefer cotton gloves in public. Costume gloves can be a fun and positive way to help a child manage their dermatillomania.
Lotions & Creams
Some people find that the act of nurturing one’s own skin can help to reduce the need to interrupt the healing process. A skincare routine can liberate a skin picker by helping them with counteract the damaging actions from dermatillomania with gentle strokes during application. Promoting skin health can be a form of taking back control over the condition while calming down anxious thoughts.
Others may be adversely affected by the heightened sensation of a substance on the skin which may exacerbate obsessive grooming practices. If you are negatively affected by an extensive regime, minimize your routine. See a dermatologist or skin care analyst for tips on what works to keep your skin healthy without it triggering the urge to pick (eg. lightweight moisturizer).
Mirrors are triggering in allowing pickers to see skin at every angle. If you cannot remove it, covering your mirror is especially effective for people who need to “just get this one“, but then get stuck in front of the mirror for hours of ritualistic and obsessive/ compulsive skin picking.
At home this problem can be easily handled- even creatively! Tape the side of a cardboard box against your mirror for a quick barrier or create a collage of inspiring images and messages! If you need something that washes off, use a can of fake snow (for window decorations) on your mirror without damaging it.
Dimming your lights can play an important role in keeping you from noticing marks.
Many people with dermatillomania are susceptible to engaging in the behavior at night time. Keeping the lights off or having them dimmed can prevent a picking episode. Navigate your home with a flashlight, which reduces visibility to your skin and keeps a hand occupied.
Fluorescent lighting can make skin appear imperfect, which can create another trigger for a skin picker. Restrict your visibility in triggering environments, especially in the locations you are prone to pick in. You can also replace a light bulb with a lower wattage or even keep the lights off altogether.
One of two techniques for nails have helped prevent some people from picking at their skin. Some find it effective to grow their nails long or have acrylic/ gel nails applied, others swear to having their nails trimmed short as a way to making the task of picking harder to achieve. With manicured hands, the smooth endings of the nails are less likely to pierce into their skin- thus causing little to no damage in attempts to pick. Others prefer keeping their nails trimmed because the sensation of long nails trigger a picking urge.
Paint your nails! Take pride in your expressive self as a picker-upper. Short or long, some extra colors or designs, pamper yourself with a little bit of extra love. Having freshly painted nails is also an incentive to try not picking, to avoid chipping.
It is common for skin pickers to wear makeup to hide their marks. The downside is that certain products can cause breakouts, exacerbating urges. Consult with a cosmetician or dermatologist about what is right for your skin type.
What you can’t see you can’t be triggered by. The purpose of wearing the makeup is not to hide from the world in shame but to hide the marks from yourself, even if it’s just so you don’t sneak a glance in the mirror from afar to see a few pimples that will trigger your excoriation disorder.