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Fingers Crossed: How to Stop Picking Acne

We all have habits we’d like to kick, but skin-picking, specifically acne-picking, can be an especially tough one to break. The urge to pick, squeeze, or pop a pimple can often feel overwhelming, leading to skin damage and a cycle of guilt and stress. This post provides comprehensive insights into understanding and combating the urge to pick your skin, ultimately showing you how to stop picking acne.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Recognizing your triggers and using strategies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and keeping your hands busy can effectively manage and reduce skin-picking habits.

  • A regular skincare routine can reduce acne occurrences, minimizing the temptation to pick.

  • By making alterations in our environment, like keeping nails short and hands occupied, we can decrease the chances of engaging in skin-picking behaviors.

  • Using an acne treatment like Exposed Skin Care can not only reduce breakouts but also address underlying issues causing acne, thereby helping you in your journey to stop picking at your skin.

 Woman picking on her acne

Understanding Skin-Picking: Dermatillomania

Dermatillomania, also known as Excoriation Disorder or Skin-Picking Disorder, is a psychological disorder related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It involves repeated attempts to stop picking skin, even when the person may not realize they’re causing damage to their skin.

While it's not uncommon for someone to pick at their skin occasionally, dermatillomania becomes an issue when the urge becomes compulsive, leading to skin lesions, scabs, or scars. It can cause significant distress, and sufferers may feel ashamed or embarrassed, often trying to hide the results of their skin-picking.

Triggers for Skin Picking

Understanding what triggers your urge to pick can be crucial in learning how to stop picking acne. Common triggers include:

  • Stress and Anxiety: High stress and anxiety levels can make it harder for a person to control the urge to pick their skin.
  • Boredom or Inactivity: If your hands aren't busy, you're likelier to pick at your skin.
  • The presence of skin lesions or acne: A breakout can trigger the urge to pick, squeeze or pop.

5 Effective Ways to Stop Picking Acne

Now that we've explored what skin picking is and what triggers it let's delve into how to stop picking acne.

1. Keep Your Hands Busy

One of the simplest tips on how to stop picking acne is to keep your hands busy. Having something else to focus on can redirect the nervous energy that often leads to skin picking.

  • Use Fidget Toys: Tools like stress balls or fidget spinners can keep your hands occupied when you feel the urge to pick.
  • Engage in Creative Activities: Drawing, knitting, or playing an instrument can also serve to keep your hands busy.

Photo of man creating toys

2. Utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for skin picking disorders. Techniques drawn from CBT can provide a structured way to stop picking your skin.

  • Mindfulness: Being aware of when and why you're picking can help break the cycle.
  • Habit Reversal Training: This involves learning to recognize when you're likely to pick and finding healthier alternatives to the behavior.

3. Create a Physical Barrier

Creating a physical barrier protects your skin and makes it harder to pick.

  • Hydrocolloid Bandages: These can be placed over acne to keep you from picking while also treating the breakout.
  • Gloves or Finger Covers: Wearing these can physically prevent picking.
  • Face Masks: Using a face mask can reduce the accessibility of the acne, and the soothing process may reduce the urge to pick.

Girl sitting on a sofa while wearing face mask

4. Establish a Solid Skin Care Routine

Having a daily skincare routine can reduce the occurrence of acne, thereby reducing the urge to pick at your skin.

  • Cleanse: Keeping your skin clean can prevent new breakouts.
  • Moisturize: Dry skin can cause dead skin, which might prompt you to pick. Moisturizing regularly can help avoid this.
  • Exfoliate: Gentle exfoliation can remove dead skin and reduce the temptation to pick.

5. Regular Nail Care

Believe it or not, taking care of your nails can help reduce picking.

  • Keep Your Nails Short: Short nails make it harder to pick at your skin effectively.
  • Regular Manicures: The time and money spent on maintaining beautiful nails can deter you from ruining them through skin picking.

Pretty hands being manicured by a professional

Using Exposed Skin Care to Manage Acne

Exposed Skin Care is a powerful solution that can play a significant role in your journey to stop picking at your skin. Packed with scientifically proven acne-fighting ingredients, it provides benefits that extend beyond simple acne management.

Exposed Skin Care Basic Kit

Here are some of the reasons why people turn to Exposed Skin Care:

  • Break the Habit: By reducing acne breakouts, Exposed Skin Care minimizes one of the major triggers for skin picking. This can be a key part of stopping picking at your face.
  • Avoid Skin Damage: Repeated picking can lead to long-term skin damage. By helping to clear your skin, Exposed Skin Care reduces the temptation to pick and helps avoid damage to your skin.
  • Target Underlying Issues: Exposed Skin Care tackles the acne on the skin's surface and addresses underlying causes. Reducing bacteria and controlling sebum production, it helps prevent future breakouts.
  • Manage Stress and Anxiety: Clearer skin can lead to reduced anxiety around your appearance, which can help in managing an anxiety disorder related to skin picking.

While there's no one-size-fits-all solution, according to experts like Sanam Hafeez, a comprehensive approach involving a solid skincare routine can significantly help. Treating this disorder may require time and patience, but you can stop picking and work towards healthier skin with the right tools.


Understanding how to stop picking acne is a process that requires self-awareness, commitment, and patience. It's all about recognizing the triggers that cause the urge to pick and implementing effective strategies to manage them. Even if you feel you can’t stop or even realize you’re doing it, remember that progress may not always be linear, but every small step brings you closer to achieving healthier, clearer skin.

Just like a habit, skin picking can be unlearned. Break the cycle by keeping your hands busy with fidget toys, maintaining your skin's health to avoid picking at pimples, and addressing any anxiety and stress that may fuel the behavior.

Also, consider adopting comprehensive skincare routines, like the one offered by Exposed Skin Care. By tackling the symptoms and root causes of acne, you can prevent breakouts and reduce the urge to pick. This holistic approach can also help address any anxiety you may be feeling about your skin's appearance.

Understanding that each person's skin and triggers are unique is crucial in the journey to treat skin picking. What works for one person to stop picking their face may not work for another. It's about finding what works best for you, allowing you to kick the habit and regain control over your skin health. With the right approach, you can stop skin-picking and enjoy the confidence of clear, healthy skin.


Q: What is Dermatillomania?

A: Dermatillomania, also known as Excoriation Disorder, is a psychological disorder that involves repeated, compulsive skin picking, leading to skin damage and distress.

Q: What triggers the urge to pick skin?

A: Common triggers include stress and anxiety, boredom or inactivity, and skin lesions or acne.

Q: Can I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to stop picking acne?

A: Yes. Techniques such as mindfulness and habit reversal training can help manage the compulsion to pick at your skin.

Q: Can a skincare routine help reduce the urge to pick skin?

A: Absolutely. A solid skincare routine can reduce acne and thus the temptation to pick. It should ideally include cleansing, moisturizing, and exfoliating.

Q: How can I use nail care to stop picking skin?

A: Keeping your nails short makes it harder to pick at your skin. Regular manicures can also act as a deterrent, as you'll likely not want to ruin your freshly done nails by skin picking.