In our expert opinion, there are just two types of people in the world: pickers and non-pickers. Whether it’s a scab, pimple, flaky patch or dry cuticle - some people just love to pick. But as any dermatologist will tell you, touching and picking at your skin is one of the worst things you can do for your skin’s health. So how do you stop touching your face for good?
Why you shouldn’t touch your face
Think about everything you touch during the course of a day: door handles, handrails on public transport, toilet handles, sink taps, food, etc. Now think about how many times someone else touches those things too. Now think about how many times a day you touch your face (and your phone.. before putting it up to your face). Grossed out? Us too. Unimaginable quantities of potentially harmful bacteria aside, touching and picking at blemishes is the number one way to prolong their lifespan, and end up with scarring. If a person's hands aren’t completely clean, they risk introducing staphylococcus bacteria when they touch their faces, which makes things much, much worse.
Constantly touching, picking and rubbing at your skin can also lead to a host of other skin concerns. Rubbing and tugging at your skin can test the skin’s elasticity, leading to premature fine lines and wrinkles. Picking at pimple scabs can also leave the skin with hyperpigmentation and dark marks. Skin picking can even turn into a chronic condition known as dermotillomania, which is on the spectrum of OCD behaviours.
How to prevent touching your face
This tip is especially useful if you work at a desk. Take some brightly coloured post-its and write ‘DON’T PICK’, and stick it right on your monitor screen as a constant reminder. Seeing a physical reminder in front of you to not pick at your skin will help to make you more aware of it, so you’re less likely to start mindlessly picking when you’re stressed or anxious.
Try pimple patches
If you’re particularly drawn to touching and picking at pimples, use hydrocolloid pimple plasters to keep blemishes covered so that you can’t pick them. Pimple plasters also help to speed up healing and draw excess gunk out of your spots - a win-win! Pimple plasters are dainty and subtle enough to wear during the day, but if you’re stuck at nighttime you can also cut up a hydrocolloid blister plaster, which will work the same way.
Notice your triggers
When you catch yourself touching your face and picking at your skin, stop and ask why you’re doing it. Are you bored and zoning out? Are you in the middle of a stressful work project or assignment? For most people, skin picking can flare up during times of anxiety or boredom. Practising mindfulness, meditation, or picking up a physical hobby to keep your hands busy are all great ways to offset feelings of boredom or anxiousness that can lead to picking.
Try a physical activity that keeps your hands busy - like reading a book, baking, painting, video gaming, sewing, or learning a new instrument. Of course, learning a new hobby can come with its own set of frustrations, which ironically can lead to picking. With that in mind, learning how to de-stress and manage anxiety is vital to stopping picking. Better yet, it can benefit your overall well-being and mental health at the same time. Whether it’s through a mindfulness app, yoga, meditation or even ASMR, explore what can help you decompress and manage your stress.
If you think your picking is becoming a larger problem, consider talking to a doctor or mental health professional about what is triggering your skin picking and how you can resolve it.
And if you can’t stop feeling your face completely…
Carry hand sanitizer with you
For chronic skin pickers, you may not even notice you’re doing it. In that case, making sure your hands are as clean as possible is one of the most practical ways to at least minimise the damage of skin picking. Carry sanitizer and use it a couple of times a day. This is especially important if you work on a laptop or keyboard, or work in a restaurant setting.
Hand soap is just as effective as hand sanitizer at killing bacteria, so take the opportunity to wash your hands really well when you’re in the bathroom. Using too much sanitizer can cause dry skin and peeling, so make sure to also keep hand cream on hand to keep your skin moisturised.
Disinfect your phone
On the subject of damage control, disinfecting your phone whenever you can is a huge benefit for skin-pickers. Phones can be an absolute theme park for harmful bacteria that make acne worse, which makes you more likely to pick at your skin.
Pick up some biodegradable antiseptic wipes to clean the surface of your phone, that can be easily disposed of in your compost bin. Alternatively, you can use an antibacterial spray and compostable tissues or a microfibre cloth. Try and wash it as regularly as you can, to keep it clean.
Use acne-fighting skincare
Pimples are one of the biggest draws for skin pickers, so using acne-reducing skin care products will help stop you touching your face in the first place.
Use cleansers and spot treatments that contain ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil, which disinfect the skin while also fighting acne-causing bacteria. The Soothing Serum contains calming aloe vera and tea tree oil to fight bacteria while caring for the skin at the same time.
Alpha hydroxy acids like lactic acid, glycolic acid and mandelic acid can help dissolve dead skin cells before they block your pores. To reduce scarring caused by picking, use products rich in plant antioxidants to help heal skin and brighten dark marks. The Light Hydrating Moisturiser is formulated with zinc oxide to help speed up skin healing, while aloe vera extract contains vitamin C to help brighten skin. People touch their faces a lot, so products like these can help your skin to no end.
So hopefully this guide helps people stop touching their faces. People touch their faces so often that they normally don't realise they are doing it. Hopefully, peoples skin can see an improvement after reading this article.