I know what it’s like to be late for work because you’ve spent so much time in the bathroom picking at blemishes that only exist in your mind.
I appreciate how awful it feels when you tell yourself ‘Never Again’, only to find your determination to succeed matched by the power of your self-sabotage.
I’ve read the Skin Picking book from Anette Pasternak, the Will Power Instinct by Kelly Mcgonigal and the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
I’ve tried tracking apps and started a blog dedicated to helping people who also suffer with dermatilomania (compulsive skin picking).
I’ve gone deep into meditation, hoping repeated practice sessions would generate the self-control needed to break this curse.
All these things helped a little bit, but in the end, it was the system that I am about to describe that proved to be the gamechanger. You will be glad to know that it is totally free, and it can be setup on your Smartphone in a couple of minutes.
Before we dive in, I need to share a photo of my forehead during the worst phase of my dermatilomania, just so you know that I am the real deal and I understand the psychological pain that you are going through.
I’m also going to drop in a photo of an in-grown hair that I picked, which went on to become a cyst.
I’m sharing this stuff to show you how awful my skin picking has been, so you can appreciate the transformation that occurred after I started playing the skin health game.
The System That Made The Difference
The success of this system depends on few things, but perhaps the most important thing is to recognize, record and celebrate the good decisions you make in a given day. The problem for most compulsive skin pickers is that it takes ages for your skin to heal, yet only seconds to do unsightly damage. So, instead of focusing on how fast our skin is healing, we are going to measure and celebrate every time we make a good decision.
This is an overview of how the Healthy Skin System Works:
Step 1: Create the rules of the game (these are the behaviors that allow you to score points or lose points).
Step 2: Install a counter app to keep score
Step 3: Take a screenshot of the score each day
Step 4: Clear your stats, and repeat the process every day for 30 days
Creating the Rules of the Game
The objective here is to measure when you succeed, and when you fail. To do this, you need to figure out the 4 triggers that are most likely to set you on a skin picking spree. For me, these are what the triggers look like:
Trigger 1: Every time I go to the bathroom.
Trigger 2: Every time I change clothes
Trigger 3: Every time I experience intense stress, anxiety or decision fatigue at work
Trigger 4: Every time I drive in my car, especially if I’m sitting in traffic
Now all we need to do is turn these triggers into opportunities to score positive decision points.
So, these are rules of the game.
- Every time I visit the bathroom without picking at my skin, I count that as a Skin Health victory point
- Every time I get dressed without picking my skin, I count that as a Skin Health victory point
- Every time I drive in my car without picking my skin, I count that as a Skin Health victory point
- Every time I go through a full day at work without picking my skin, I count that as a Skin Health victory point
- Conversely, every time I pick at my skin at any point during the day, I count that as a defeat point
This is what a typical day will look like, using a counter app.
In the screenshot above, SH smiley face represents the victory points I have earned during the day from going to the bathroom without picking at my skin, or getting changed without picking my skin. The SH Sad Face represents every time I have picked at something, at any point during the day.
Which Counter App Should You Use?
There are so many apps out there, but I personally use an app called ‘Thing Counter‘.
Why do you need to clear the stats each day?
Because every day is an opportunity for you to get better at this game. The better you get, the healthier your skin will be.
Is there any scientific evidence to suggest that this approach can actually work?
First off, let me state that I picked my skin from the age of 6 to the age of 31. Using this system allowed me to break this habit once and for good in about 30 days. When you come across a success story as powerful as mine, you ought to consider whether or not the same system can work for you.
Secondly, it actually has strong ties to cognitive behavioral therapy, which is arguably the best treatment for bad habits known to man. In particular, it draws off exposure and response prevention therapy (erp therapy), where you initiate the triggers that you usually set you off, with the express intention of consciously deciding not to engage in the habit that you are trying to break.
For instance, with erp therapy, a smoker might practice going for a pub lunch and ordering a beer, with the primary goal of not having a smoke during this extremely vulnerable moment. Alternatively, someone with a compulsive skin picking problem might practice looking at the bathroom mirror and then washing their hands instead of picking their skin.
In other words, if you decided that you were going to ‘cheat’ the system, by popping in and out of the bathroom hundreds of times per day without touching your skin at all, you would have unknowingly engaged in erp therapy. This type of therapy is literally more effective than medicine at reigning in impulse control disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders. Dermatillomania sits somewhere inbetween these 2 afflictions.
Alright then. How about some before and after shots?
I’m glad you asked. Here you go.
Can this system guarantee that the problem will cease?
There is no guaranteed cure for dermatilomania. However, there are approaches that are more effective than others at treating this problem.The Skin Health System that I describe has 3 major benefits.
- It is ultra convenient – You literally just need to keep tabs on your behavior during certain key moments in the day, and all you have to do to is tap a button on your phone. Because it requires so little mental energy to play this game, you are more likely to do it every day.
- It harnesses the power of gamification – The Skin Health system is actually just a game that compulsive skin pickers can play if they want to rid themselves of this awful habit. It doesn’t require perfect behavior in order for you to see massive improvement. You just need to play the game for 30 days and see what happens. If you’re anything like me, your skin will look and feel so much better, you will want to carry on playing the game for as long as you need to totally erase the habit from your life.
- It leverages the power of cognitive behavioral therapy – When you play this game, you are essentially training yourself to behave differently during the moments that trigger picking onslaughts. Most psychologists are literally incapable of prescribing better treatment than the skin picking game that I have created, because the game itself is actually a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. You don’t need to pay a psychologists massive amounts of cash to solve this problem. You just need to download an app on your phone, and start recording those victory points.
I understand the pain of living with dermatillomania. I’ve ruined certain sections of my skin that will never truly be the same. I get how difficult it can be to stop.
But I also know that it is possible to turn things around, even if you are at a low point in your life and you feel deeply ashamed by your behavior.
All I ask is that you give this system a chance. It doesn’t take very to long to set things up on your phone, and it could literally be the cure that you’ve been looking for all this time.