How to Heal Skin Picking Wounds

When it comes to dealing with dermatillomania, trichotillomania, and other body-focused repetitive behaviors, we know that healing starts from within. However, in this post I’d like to talk about how to heal the wounds we cause with skin picking.

We know that it usually starts with a need to rid the skin of impurities and pimples, but often the skin looks much worse afterwards.

I know I’m guilty of picking the same spots over and over again, and the urge to remove scabs can be strong. It can make wound healing take weeks or months, and repeated scab removal can even leave long-term scarring.

So what’s the point in “fixing” the skin in the first place!?

I’d like to share what I am doing to break the what I’m doing to break the cycle of healing-picking.

First, some insight into the healing process of skin 

Wounds seem to take forever to heal. We feel ashamed and hopeless, especially when visible on the face, arms, or legs.

The healing process of the skin can take anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on the size and severity of the wound. During this time, it is important to keep the wound clean and covered to avoid infection and promote healing.

After about three months, most wounds are fully repaired (no wonder, it seems forever!) and the skin is almost as strong as before the trauma. But it obviously depends on how big or deep the wound is.

Let’s try to be mindful the next time we feel the urge to pick. Let’s give our skin some TLC and show it some love. No digging, please! A gentle push will do—we don’t need tweezers or needles. Doing this will give our skin the patience it needs to heal and our future self will thank us for it!

It’s understandable that you want to get rid of blemishes quickly, but it’s really important to leave them be and let them heal naturally—I know it’s easier said than done. But it’ll be better for us in the long run. If we keep picking at scabs, it’ll take longer for them to heal.

A guide to enhancing skin picking wound healing

Here are some products I use to help heal wounds I caused from picking my skin and to stop me from scratching at my scabs.

  • Bandages are a great way to keep your wounds of all sizes clean and moist so that they can heal better. Maybe apply some healing ointment first. Plus, you won’t have to worry about anyone seeing your damaged skin, which can help you resist the urge to pick!
  • Hydrocolloid bandages are my absolute favorites! They’re waterproof and can stay in place over a wound for several days, protecting it and helping it heal without forming scabs. A white bubble will form to show that the healing process has started. I’m being careful to use these costlier patches wisely by only cutting small rounds as needed. You can also use a hole puncher to create custom circular healing patches.
  • Pimple patches provide a gentle reminder to leave pimples alone and allow them to heal naturally. By providing a physical barrier between the skin and the fingers, pimple patches allow the skin to heal without the risk of further damage from skin picking. The hydrocolloid material helps to absorb excess oil and fluids from the blemish, so it can heal faster and more effectively. Additionally, the patches help to reduce inflammation, redness, and pain.
  • Healing ointment: For smaller wounds, I apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection and keep the skin moist. I also apply the cream to the discolored skin long after the wound has healed. I’ve implemented this method instead of picking my skin— it’s a healthier approach that helps it heal.
  • Wound Spray: I regularly use wound (antiseptic) spray to kill the germs and help prevent infections—especially before I apply any bandage or healing ointment. Cleansing the wound from dirt and bacteria is an essential first step to enable the healing of a skin-picking wound.
  • Healing clay/earth masks can be a great aid in treating acne and small skin-picking wounds. Thanks to its ability to draw out impurities and reduce inflammation, these masks are able to balance the pH levels of the skin to promote natural healing. On top of this, I find that using the mask is a calming and self-care-inducing ritual. The cooling sensation and earthy smell are especially enjoyable! I personally use Luvos Heilerde (healing earth), a popular German brand.
  • Healthy nutrients: Maintaining healthy vitamin levels can also improve the wound healing process. Very popular for skincare are vitamin A (kale, pumpkin, egg) to fight wound infections and vitamin E (nuts such as almonds and peanuts, vegetable oils) to stimulate new skin cells to grow in the damaged area and thus prevent scarring. Zinc helps the immune system, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is beneficial for acne and related scars. Sometimes I take supplements of the above nutrients because why not. 

What steps do you take to help your skin picking wounds heal?

I hope these tips can be helpful in aiding you on your journey to healing your skin picking wounds!

– Anja

PS: If you’ve just had a setback and are disheartened by the damage you’ve done because of your BFRB, maybe this post will help you get a fresh perspective.

My wound-healing tools
Hydrocolloid bandages doing their healing magic

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