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Make Peace With Your Critical Self and Heal Nervous, Habitual, Obsessive, Compulsive Skin Picking
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Victim or Aggressor?
What’s Going On?
Love the Skin
All About Acne
BACKGROUND: WHAT’S GOING ON DOWN THERE?
In For the Nasty Results - ScarringOne of the things that gets me depressed now that I am a recovering face picker, is the scars left on my face. They are subtle, but when the light hits my skin just right I can see the craters and small indentations where countless picked zits used to be. I could never see them before because I was so concentrating on the pimple and breakouts. Now that my skin has cleared up, the scars are a little more visible. And I suppose that with aging, they come out more as well. So even if you think you are not scarring your skin now, you probably are.
Let’s start with talking about scarring or ‘acne keloidalis’. Hypotrophic pitted scars, hypertrophic scars or acne keloids are caused by an unnatural change in the size and amount of cells. This occurs when the keratin, that fibrous protein found in the dermis layer of skin is altered from its original shape due to undue pressure.
I never thought that the mild picking was doing anything to my face. I always pressed as far down on (into) my skin so as to avoid making the pimple pop internally. Once in a while I failed and could hear the barely audible sound of the infection bursting below the surface. It would scare me a little when that happened, because deep down I knew that was bad news. And sometimes it made me stop my ‘session. But often I would go into denial and work on the other side of my face. Once in a while it would burst out onto the mirror with a spurt of pus and blood which I would quickly wipe up lest someone else would discover what I had done. Although the bleeding spot on my face was proof enough. I still felt the need to cover up.
I felt especially victorious when a little piece of hard material came out with the ooze, because then I knew my I had successfully completed my mission. If I did not get that hard sebum, I might work on it longer often getting out a pin or needle or x-acto knife to help dig it out. I never realized what I was actually digging into. I just knew there was something to be released and my body wasn’t doing it fast enough. I felt I was justified, because I felt my body had malfunctioned and I was going to fix it. I thought that my body didn’t know what it was doing, because it broke out in the first place, right?
And when I was done working on my face there were always ingrown hairs to look for. And then there were always my cuticles later…
I was always careful when a pimple looked like it was healing with a pock or hole to pick it some more so that it would heal ‘more flatly’. I would extend the range of the scab to even it out with the rest of my face and thought I was so clever for figuring that out. Then one day I caught my reflection in a mirror that had a different light source from my usual bathroom mirror and saw them. They weren’t deep, but they were there. A whole network of uneven surface. Little sunken circles all over my cheeks. I had scars. No they weren’t the typical deep pit, crater, ‘pock’ scars, but they were there nonetheless. Next time you have a chance, try to look at your complexion with light coming from the side or behind you and see what you see. I hope that if you do experience what I did you will have the sense enough to stop right then and there at that point. I didn’t.
I know an older lady who experienced a traumatic acne breakout as a young woman when she had an open picked pimple. Grease paint makeup got into pore and caused a very bad infection. This infection spread across her entire face causing huge and painful nodules. Because of a lack of understanding on the part of doctors in those days, she was never treated and to this day has very deep scars across both sides of her face. This lifetime blow to her self esteem must have been quite unbearable. Currently 50 years later she is looking into dermabrasion treatment, but as yet has been unable to afford this costly procedure.
If you do end up with scars, think of all the hassle and additional medical bills you will incur, not to mention the pain and de-humanizing process of going through any medical treatment. Old fashioned and very painful dermabrasion or sandpapering has given way to the newer iontophoresis using either Tretinoin or Retinyl acetate (cis-retinoic acid) where you can’t go out in the sun and it may cause birth defects if you are a woman.
And then there are chemical peels. We’re talking trychloracetic ACID here. Do you really want something with that kind of name burning and eating away at your face? There is also a Carbon Dioxide flush which resurfaces your face through the use of lasers and Cross hatching scarification where they cut up your face with tiny scratched lines to create additional scarring that will mask or camoflauge the scarring you’ve already created. To fill up deep pocks you might go through Punch and Suture or drill and Gelfoam process. And all of the above treatments can result in additional scarring, not healing.
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