Marissa Higgins
August 11, 2016 5:01 pm
Shutterstock

If we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that we all break a pretty sacred beauty rule on a regular basis. Who hasn’t heard the old adage a thousand times? Don’t pick at your skin. But what do we all do when we’re alone in our bathrooms, hunched over our mirrors under the glaring light? Pick and prod at our skin, of course.

Whether we have pimples, scarring, moles, or extra large pores, it seems like women are on a never-ending journey to achieve skin that society deems acceptable. So we all know the gender norms that may encourage us to do this, but is there a psychological component as well?

According to Dr. Amy Wechsler (dual psychiatrist and dermatologist), for people who pick at their skin, there can absolutely be a psychological fixation at play. As she tells PopSugar:

“A lot of lives are relatively out of control. If there is something you can do to control your body or your life, intelligent people try to do it.” 

She notes, too, that this habit is often linked to anxiety.

As too many of us know all too well, anxiety can be chronic – and debilitating. As Dr. Weschsler explains, “During times of anxiety and stress, they start picking more. And when the stress goes away or gets better, they stop. When the stress flares again — it could be months or weeks later — they do it again.” In this sense, picking at your skin can become a chronic habit or cycle that you turn to as a way to soothe your anxieties, though too often the touching only results in more damage.

So, what can we do to stop this painful cycle?

Dr. Wechsler suggests that in extreme cases, cognitive-behavioral therapy may do the trick. Before seeking therapy, though, she states that there are approaches you can take at home to work on your skin-picking – such as leaving notes on your mirror reminding yourself not to pick, or to throw away magnifying mirrors and similar products that may trigger picking.

If there’s anything we all know to be true, it’s that there is no worse feeling in the world than the sensation that your life is spiraling out of control. Luckily, there are healthy ways to deal with anxiety. That’s why it’s so important to remember that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, even if things are overwhelming or rough during the journey.

Advertisement