5 Ways to Stop Touching or Picking Your Skin

I would like to stop the mindless and automatic habit I have of touching and feeling my skin whenever I get a spot. Or touching it if I’m anxious and think I’m going to get spots. Or touching it any ol time of day for no good reason.

Maybe you’re not a skin toucher. Maybe you’re a skin picker. Or a looks-too-much-in-the-mirror kind of person.

I’m a former acne popper/picker, but still a skin toucher and a bit of alookie-loo. The whole mirror thing will be my next project…. but the touching personally bothers me more, so I’m going to focus on that for now.

Anyway, watch this video to find out why skin touching, poking, and looking are not good ideas and why I want to quit:

Okay so here are my tips on how to quit doing these things and what I’m going to try. I’ll be honest, since I’ve made this video I’ve been failing miserably at stopping (although I haven’t been trying very hard) – it’s just so damn automatic. I just do it before I even have a chance to think the thought.

And that’s the problem – 95% of the things that we do are automatic. We don’t have to think about them. Which, really, frees up a lot of brain power for us, especially if these automatic actions are healthy habits and positive thoughts. But it’s very easy for bad habits and thoughts to also get ingrained into our autopilot mode.

Okay, right, so… back to the tips:

1. Tell Everyone

If you tell everyone and make yourself publicly accountable, you’re way more likely to follow through than if you are only accountable to yourself. That’s why I told all of you! So don’t let me get away with not stopping this!

2. Scare Yourself Into Stopping

I’m putting this near the top of the list because it’s honestly the sole reason I stopped picking my skin… I read the website Stop Picking On Me and the way they describe the horrid destruction and absolute mutilation you are doing to your skin every time you pick and squeeze it (which, by the way, warps your pores and makes them more likely to be clogged again the future, not to mention can create lasting scarring)…

Well anyway, it was tough to quit, but I basically just visualized this horrid massacre of my skin cells and all the extra acne that will come back in that one spot, and… yeah. That was it. The idea of squeezing my skin absolutely horrifies me now. I can’t believe I never realized how much worse it made my skin look. There are the rare times that I will occasionally still pop a pimple (for old time’s sake?), and I almost always immediately regret it. I did it today, in fact, and I’m still annoyed. It’s turned me off popping anything for a while, that’s for sure!

So anyway… somehow I can’t seem to get myself to believing skin touching is nearly as bad, but I’m going to try to use the same strategy with this and see if it works. I will visualize the bacteria on my hands getting pushed in there, festering, and creating a giant volcano of a pimple. Ugh.

3. Create an Anti-Bad Habit

If you feel the urge to pick or touch or look and it comes over you strongly, take a really deep breath into your belly and switch to focusing as hard as you can on a positive word or phrase like love or peace or joy. If your mind wanders, bring it back and repeat the phrase to yourself. This will remind you consciously how you would like to act in this situation – ie. resisting the urge and doing something else. It’s much better to focus on a new habit and positive thoughts than it is to dwell and punish yourself when you do give in or forget.

4. Use Visualization to Rehearse Life Without the Habit

Every morning when you wake up, take a few minutes and let your imagination go in detail through the day to come. Think of all the times that you’d spend performing your bad habit, but in your visualization, show yourself resisting and performing a new healthier habit (ie. just ignoring your skin, doing something else, or focusing on your happy phrase). Soon your brain will act in accordance because it doesn’t know the difference between reality and mental rehearsal.

5. Look at the Emotional Reasons Behind the Habit

Okay… well this is the hard one but probably the most important. I know we all get some kind of sadistic pleasure out of picking/touching/looking…. but why? What need are we filling? And can we fill that need with our replacement habit?

I actually think this may have been a reason that I was able to so easily quit popping and squeezing… I only really ever did it because I figured getting the pus out of spots would make them go away sooner, and thus make me look better. Obviously touching my face has no perceived value as far as making myself look better goes… I think it goes much deeper. I think it’s probably a validation of my fear. I fear that my bad acne will come back, so I go looking for it – I go looking for something to satisfy it.

Hmm. Well, the silly thing is that I’m too addicted to working on my blog to stop and take the time to actually figure out how to work through the fear I’ve been carrying around, which has been coming out to haunt me a lot lately. Sigh. Sometimes it’s hard to take your own advice.

Do you have bad acne habits? Who wants to quit them with me for moral support?

UPDATE: Since writing this post (and unfortunately not actually being able to quit using said techniques), I have discovered the method that they use to treat skin picking in clinical psychology (the thing that finally worked for me).

I have written about it in my new ebook “Cure Your Skin Compulsions – The Ultimate Guide to Quitting Skin Picking, Popping, Touching, and Obsessing”. If you are struggling with skin picking or other compulsive skin behaviours and would like to look and feel better, check it out here.

You can totally be happy, healthy and acne free!

Just grab my free gift to you, ‘7 things You Can Start Doing Right Now to Clear Your Skin’ and get started right away!

Join over 15,000 women who are on their way to gorgeous skin and an amazing life


  1. Ida says

    Thanks so much for this post Tracy. I was a terrible skin picker and pimple popper and made my skin look much worse.

    I don’t pop pimple anymore after reading the thestoppickingonme.com website. The content an excellent incentive to stop.

    But I still find it so hard not to always be looking in a mirror as I want to see what people will be seeing. I’m always scared that a pimple will be coming up and I’ll not know about and I’ll need to get it covered with concealer.

    With always looking in a mirror comes touching my face too much. As I said, I never pop anymore, but at times when I’ve been touching my face I’ve loosened a scab from acne healing. This causes scarring. I feel like such an idiot when this happens and really ashamed.

    Your post has re-enforced to me why it is very important to leave my skin alone and let it heal itself. I can see plenty of times that when I leave my skin alone, it can heal up fine with mininal marks.

  2. Marie says

    Tracy first I want to thank you for all the time and energy you put into this blog. I randomly came across your blog one day as I was on youtube watching a video of my friends band play and I saw your face (your video) on the side column and thought, ‘wow, this girl is so radiant and beautiful i must see what she has to say’ it was only days before that i found myself on my knees praying to ANYTHING for help in my life as i was so close to that ‘rock bottom’ place . At the time i didn’t even know acne was a huge cause of my pain. the video i saw was the one about do you really want to get rid of your acne. and immediately i KNEW this was the path i needed to go down, holistically, naturally heal myself. SO many things have come up as a result. Deep Fears and pains i also didn’t even know existed within me and I have been going through a beautiful healing and transformation time in my life….- THANKS TO YOU!
    ANYways, i have a really random and kind of gross question slightly related to this video. So, I have like…. hair on my face. it has always bothered me and for the longest time i thought something was wrong with me, but its possible thats just how i was created. I know some women actually wax their face. I would never dare- but as i learn more about acne how its caused and bla bla i thought if i PLUCKED the hair near and around a spot it would help in some way . ….. do you know anything about if this could be a good or bad thing for my skin?
    : )
    Thank you again. MANY blessings to you !

    • Sarah says

      waxing and plucking will most likely make your skin worse especially for people with acne. if it doesnt cause acne it can cause ingrown hairs which cause red bumps that look like acne. its all irritation. is the hair blonde and fine? if so thats normal…a lot of people have that. i myself went through a phase where i thought i was the only when with it but most girls have some fine hair on their face. its actually a different form of hair called vellus hair that isnt suppose to be removed because we need it. now if its dark and its only on certain sections like your chin or your side, you should be fine. but im pretty sure you are talking about the fine hairs all over your face. hope that helps.

    • Tracy says

      Thank you so much for sharing that Marie…. sounds like the universe just knew to bring you here! That’s really wonderful.

      As for the hair question… like Sarah said, if it’s just fine blonde or even darkish hairs (if you’re a dark haired person), then it’s normal. However, if it’s more like excessive hairiness in areas where hair would not normally grow in women, it’s something called hirsutism and both that and acne are associated with Poly Cystic Ovarian syndrome which elevates testosterone levels. Not to alarm you! But have you ever been tested for it?

      As for plucking or waxing… I don’t know, but waxing doesn’t sound like a good idea :/ unless you are waxing a part of your face that isn’t acne prone.

  3. Melanie says

    I’ve read ‘stop picking on me’ and am fighting to stop picking/popping my acne, but… i let my acne go about 10 days without popping it and it showed NO signs of flattening/dissolving/healing on its own. I’m unsure if the hard glob of stuff in there would ever go away if i didn’t pop it. So does it go away? How long does it take?
    Thanks much <3

    • Tracy says

      Hmmm yeah. It is a bit tricky because it’s usually the smaller ones that go away on their own quite quickly…. but big ones and cysts and things do take a long time. …… but they do go away. The pus is your body’s healing serum … and the trick to not only getting rid of acne but ensuring that acne you do get goes away quickly is healthy living and lots of anti inflammatory foods.

      But yeah. If it’s obvious that there is lots of pus that would be able to come out easily if popped, then do it at your own risk. For example – even though I will occasionally still give in and pop a pimple, I think the biggest victory for me is the fact that it’s very rare. I don’t just pick and pop everything on my face just because it’s there… you know?

  4. Sampson says

    I hate knowing breakouts are there. Ignorance is bliss.

    If I don’t know it’s there, I won’t touch it, but sometimes I go to scratch my face and I feel one and have to keep poking it to make sure it’s still there.

  5. Jeff says

    Hey Tracy! I haven’t been posting lately … school.

    But I have some GREAT news! I’m tentatively going to say I am basically clear now. (At least, for this past month – lol) And I think it’s due to two things that I began doing … 1. Smoothies EVERY morning for breakfast. and 2. Your AWESOME honey mask.

    So far this past month, I’ve been pretty much totally clear. I’ve gotten like one small spot but overall I am REALLY pleased because I’ve been super busy and loaded with homework from school etc.

    But relating to this post .. I still find that I’m looking in the mirror. I don’t do it often because I told myself before that I would just avoid looking at mirrors as much as possible … but now my eyes first see “oh yay no pimples” but then they go straight to the red marks that are like months old. Kind of annoying -.- But anyhow, I’ll keep you updated on how things are going! So far, so good!

    Thanks for all your blog posts, Tracy! They really help!

    • Tracy says

      Hey Jeff!!

      Way to go!! That’s AWESOME that you’ve gotten clear! Just celebrate your victories and don’t focus on the old red marks.. they’ll go! Besides if they’re that old, I’m sure they’re faded enough that no one else would even notice except for you :)

      Anyway, good to hear Jeff

  6. Marie says

    Thank you Sarah and Tracy for your replies to my question. well i did a bit of research about hirsutism and i ‘m pretty sure that is not what im experiencing. what an interesting thing to have happen tho. so i guess ill just give thanks that….i can see….or something because things aren’t as bad as i can sometimes think they are!

  7. says

    I go through stages of touching my face and not touching it – it’s so easy to fall into the habit of doing it! One way that’s helped a lot is to keep rinsing my hands with water… so I will perceive them as too clean (or something!) to touch my face with. Sound simple, but it works!

    • Tracy says

      Hahah I don’t get it… if my hands were clean, I think I’d feel more inclined to touch my face… because… what the heck. They’re clean! :p

      Do you not want to get your hands dirty with your face? :/ ?

      • Aymie says

        That’s exactly the mentality I’ve had for years which……… upon reflection has caused the key psychological and physical issues I’m still battling.
        Persistent hand and nail washing takes a little of the guilt away from my scratching habbit….. scratching and picking in the shower….. “the hot water will wash away the bacteria” ………….. funny what we tell ourselves.
        I’m scratching in my sleep now, terrible.

        I’ll jump this hurdle knowing you’re all trying to break these destructive routines too.

        You’re a great inspiration Tracy, thank you.

      • Kalie says

        Hi my name is Kalie

        im 13 and my picking is ruining my life, i think my picking is just stress from school but i just put that on myself and i believe i would be actually pretty if i didn’t have big red marks on my face the problem is i have mirrors all around the house and i have a sister to so if i get rid of them she will be mad, also I haven’t told anyone that I pick, i think some people suspect but don’t say anything (thankfully) im so embarrassed and i don’t think i will ever tell anyone that i know some days i just want to stay home and not go anywhere because of the huge scabs and marks on my face how can anyone want to be around me, im glad i can’t see myself all day long do you know how i can stop?


        • Tracy says

          Hey Kalie, a technique I’ve learned since writing this post is something called Exposure and Response Prevention… look it up. It’s like 90% effective in helping those with OCD stop their compulsive habits, and I think it would work super well for skin picking… since it’s also a compulsive habit. Google it! I’m sending my love your way!

  8. Jared says

    So I stumbled upon your site last night through your Vibram FiveFingers review. Not touching your face is very difficult, but I’m right there with you. I think the leading cause of my skin problems is constantly touching my face. I tend to prop my head up with my hand during classes and that area always tends to be where I break out.
    So as I sit here sipping my green smoothie, I’m starting day 1 of trying to break this bad habit.

    • Tracy says

      Good luck Jared! I’m still working on stopping…. it’s going okay… but not great. I’ll keep chipping away though!

  9. Jini says

    Well, once again you hit it on the “head” Tracy! Ha,ha! I’m so bad at touching , looking and picking it’s pathetic. I feel as though i punish myself for being so ugly because of the acne. I think no one thinks I’m pretty anyway, so what does it matter. then, I beat myself up inside for doing it to my skin. It’ a vicious cyle that is truly hard to break. I thank you for bringing this up, now I know I’m not the only one who has an addiction to it. I hope I can stop with all the advice I’ve read. I’m always so embarrassed , I know people can tell. I notice when I;m busy I don’t look in the mirror as much. when I wash my face is when the mirror is a problem.

  10. Natalie says

    Hi Tracey!!! Idk how I stumbled into you but I am glad I did. I read that comment when you said waxing and plucking can cause irritation and it made me wonder how should I get my eyebrows done?
    And also I have bought Manuka Honey and Jojoba oil and tea tree oil and I love it. You are truly an amazing inspiration.I even downloaded the Emotion Code and it was truly eye opening. Anyway thank you again <3

    • Tracy says

      Hi Natalie!! Thanks for letting me know you like the site … and my skin care suggestions :D
      As for the plucking and waxing…. well…. do you get acne around where you pluck/wax your eyebrows? If not, then go ahead… but if you do notice you get acne there, then it might be exasperating it!

  11. aj says

    hey tracy! i know you’re not suppose to pick your pimples ( which ive been very good about not doing lately :) ) but whenever i wash my face i can always feel the one big red pimple i get once in a while. i know patience is the key but do u have any suggestions for a home remedy for spot treatment on a pimple?? it’s soo red and nasty! you are like my acne guru haha! thanks a bunch!

    • Tracy says

      Well, right now I’ve been experimenting with using green clay mixed with the tiniest amount of manuka honey as a spot treatment for overnight…. green clay draws out the impurities and seems to dry it out, and manuka honey is antibacterial.

      You could also try mixing the clay with a bit of bragg’s apple cider vinegar… I think that’s actually better than the honey because the honey prevents the clay from drying and then it’s sticky on your face :/…. well you could put a bandaid over it or something.

      For the day time, I’d recommend probably just a dab of apple cider vinegar…. it’s much more inconspicuous than a spot of clay on your face!

  12. Raffia says

    Hi Tracy, do u think hydrogen peroxide would be a good spot treatment? I will try it and see if it works for the painful cyst. Have tried toothpaste
    in the past but it left a dark mark for several days…a sort of burn which was not what I expected.

    • Tracy says

      Hmm I haven’t experimented with hydrogen peroxide so I’m not sure… let me know if it does anything for you?

  13. Maria says

    Tracy, You have done an amazing service by writing this article and leading me to the Stoppickingonme.com article. It scared me into stopping! The idea that cells that are constantly repairing can become cancerous because of the constant repair, hit home for me. My ankle and leg has been the focus of my skin picking for the past 5 years.

    Thank you for writing this.

  14. Irena says

    Hi Tracy!

    First of all, congratulations on clearing your acne. Your skin looks amazing.
    I used to follow your blog until I read this post, followed your advised and basically ruined my skin.
    I’ve had acne for about 10 years, and I’ve always been a skin-picker, but I never scarred or at least I thought so. Recently I went to a dermatologist because my skin started breaking out again (after two years of having my acne under control and not using any foundation, that’s how good my skin looked), she prescribed me some creams and lotions that did clear some of my comedonal acne but caused cysts. She also told me that all the small dots on my face are actually acne scars. I never knew they were scars, I just thought they were enlarged pores, they are really really small and nobody can see them unless they are very close to me. So basically since the medecine didn’t work I started looking for alternative treatments and found a couple of sites favouring holistic approach. One of them is your blog. I saw your videos and noticed how great your skin looked, not a single scar. And then I read this article and it did the trick of convincing me to stop picking on my skin, since I wanted to avoid having more of those tiny dots. Now, you could say congratulations, but quite the opposite. It took more than a month for my pimples to heal and I ended up with indented scars on my face. I now have holes in my skin. So I started thinking, how come everybody tells us that the best way to avoid scarring is to leave your skin on its own. But I ended up with the worst scarring ever (and I need to look into different scar treatments now). So who scars more, those who pop their pimples or those who don’t. I believe that those who don’t. When a pimple has puss inside it NEEDS to be extracted for the proper healing, if it stays there, it works as abstruction and your skin starts healing under it, therefore you get a pit. Just think of getting your ear pierced, if you pierced your ear and didn’t put an earring, your skin would heal properly without leaving a hole, but since the hole is what we want we put an earring which works as abstruction an makes sure that the skin heals around it, thus forming a hole. Puss works the same way, it doesn’t help our skin heal. There is a reason why our skin keeps pushing all that nasty puss to the surface, so that we can remove it and it can heal properly. I’m not the only person who has experienced this. I read a couple of coments on acne.org where people have had the same problem, they got their worst scarring from not popping their pimples.
    Now if you can sincerely tell me that throughout all those years of severe acne that you had, you never popped a pimple and that’s why your skin is flawless, then please accept my apologies (I know I sound angry, I just need to get if off my chest and prevent somebody from making my mistake). But if you have always picked at your skin and you haven’t scarred then maybe that’s the reason. I might be wrong, so it would be nice to start a new thread or a questionnaire or something to find out who scars more, skin pickers or those who never pick. I think it’s the worst acne myth in the world that popping causes scarring. And it should be destroyed.
    Having written all this, I also understand that this might be my weird skin type or something. So those of you who have never picked on your skin and don’t have a single scar, don’t start picking just because I had this bad experience, congratulations you have a great skin. But if you have always left your spots to heal on their own and you have scarred, start extracting all that puss. Your skin will heal faster, your hyperpigmentation will be lighter and will disappear within two weeks, tops one month, and you won’t have pits on your face.
    I think that instead of promoting this myth, all the acne sufferes should be educated on how to do their extractions correctly (your nails cut, your hands clean, your fingers wrapped in a piece of tissue, you should extract only when there’s a visible white head, you shold remove all the puss, you should apply some alcohol and you should never scratch it afterwards, that’s when you need to leave it alone). If you do extractions when it’s too late you’ll still scar because the skin will have started healing under the puss. So catching the right moment is the key.
    Again, maybe I’m completely wrong, that’s why I invite everybody to share their experience with scarring. Maybe it’s just a skin type. But the fact is, that now I have around 15 pits on my face and I have to undergo some kind of scar treatment. I’ve been depressed for the past 6 weeks, I’ve stopped functioning, I’m obsessed with my scars, I see them in every reflection and the worst part is that there is no natural treatment for pitted scars. So I’m looking for a good dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. If anybody knows a good doctor in Mexico City, please let me know.
    Again, I know I sound angry and I might be wrong but I had to write this comment. Hopefully it will help me deal with my depression.
    Thank you for your hard work on this blog, but please, be honest with your audience, Tracy. Just because most of the dermatologists say that the best way to avoid scarring is to stop picking doesn’t mean they are right. They also claim that there is no connection between acne and diet. And they are wrong about it. So if you have always popped your pimples then why try to convince the rest of us that picking is some kind of a mental disease. It’s not, if you do it correctly.
    Please, correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Irena,

      I’m really sorry to hear that this has been your experience, and also very sad to hear that I played a role in the outcome :( I assure you I don’t ever spread information that I know to be incorrect, so it is hard to hear when your best intentions have backfired! My heart very much goes out to you.

      I honestly didn’t realize that not popping in some circumstances could be a bad thing. The way you explain it – the skin healing underneath the pus does make sense. Of course, as you say, it depends on people’s skin type. For me, I suppose I am lucky in that my skin doesn’t seem to be that prone to scarring, plus I have never had acne on my cheeks, which seems to be where people scar the worst. I had always popped all my pimples – this never seemed to cause any scarring, but when my acne got severe, I did notice the beginnings of scarring. Since I had only ever heard that not popping was the way to go, I decided to stop, and my skin began to look so much better. I also stopped continuously getting pimples in the exact same spots (which I believe is because squeezing and popping pushes bacteria in and around into the surrounding pores). Anyway, between my own experience, and hearing countless other people rave that not picking and popping saved their skin, and never hearing anything otherwise, and also from reading through http://www.stoppickingonme.com, you can see why I would recommend no popping across the board. I just didn’t know.

      Unfortunately, here we come back to that annoying little fact that everyone is different and one man’s saviour is another man’s grave. I’m so sorry about what has happened to you, and I will do some more research into this and perhaps amend it with a new article explaining that maybe there are times when popping a pimple is the right way to go.

      Lots of love,
      Tracy xo

  15. Ida says

    Irena, I used to pick at my acne skin and leave nasty red marks. I haven’t picked at it in a few years now. Plus, my acne has decreased a lot due to eating healthier. So less to pick.

    Anyway, what I have noticed is that when I get a pus filled spot, I leave it alone. The puss head then dries up and sometimes it falls off itself naturally. This leaves a scar. So I think this is so unfair as I didn’t pick at it!!

  16. Amy says

    I am a picker! I will pick at my face, back, arms, chest. I wwill find myself picking for an hour easily. If there is no mirror around I still scratch and pick at my face but not as much. One thing I have done to help decrease the amount of time I spend picking is by taking down mirrors. My bathroom mirror, GONE! The only mirrors left in my house are ones with sinks in the way (making it hard to look closely at my flaws. This has helped yet I still wear long sleve shirts when its 75 degrees outside to hide my arms. Another thing that has helped is telling my family about it (as if they couldn’t already tell). They didn’t understand how painful physically and emotionally my habit was until I broke down crying to them. Now they help. Because they know when I tend to pick and where they will come stop me when I can’t myself. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I still have a very bad habit but it is better because I am now facing that it is a problem. Thank you for sharing your experience. Hope I can comment again on this page with even better news :)

  17. kristy says

    I say we all get together And see how long we can go without picking And post pictures i just distroyed my face i need help:( 9153280957

  18. Kitiara says

    I know this is an old post, but I wanted to share something that helped me, for anyone who might come across this again. I recently found that using soap with bursting beads, and popping those while washing my hands, is really keeping me from popping zits. It’s the same kind of satisfaction and stress release, but without mutilating my face. Maybe it will work for other people, too. :)

    • Rachel says

      I actually thought about doing the same thing! Another thing that you can do is maybe pop bubble wrap when you want to pick at your face. Bubble wrap is fun to pop and it will keep your mind off your face. :)

  19. Michael says

    I want to give you a quick synopsis of my struggles with picking/popping and mirror leaning, but wanted to make sure your still responding to this thread first……thanks……or maybe I could email you directly???

  20. Alice says

    That is really great advice i must try and use it! I am absolutely dreadful when it comes to squeezing spots i only started when i moved house and jobs and everything made me so stressed…that must be the reason why i do it. Even if i feel a lump i have to squeeze it! I have resulted to going to back to childish things and so now i have a sticker chart (i get a sticker when i don’t squeeze any spots all day:)) i really will follow what you’ve said and i hope it helps!xx

  21. Shannon says

    Hey Tracy,
    I just had a couple of questions for you… first off Thank You for creating this website. Its been a god send to others. Second, i have clogged pores pretty much all over my face and neck and chest……acne is genetic on my moms family but I am still holding on hope there is a way to help out. I think I tend to touch my face a lot thus causing clogged pores. Problem is I do it and I don’t seem to make a concious effort to avoid touching it and the same thing with the mirror. I used to have a really severe case of acne where it was all over my face and i felt so embarrassed. It seemed to heal with age and with a facial cleanser which is no longer in making of:(. I have acne scarring on the sides of my face and also tend to pick at my face when i see a pimple or a bad zit.. i get blackheads whiteheads and clogged pores.My sister is getting married towards this mid May and i would like to know if you could give me advice on clearing up my clogged pores. I have combination sensitive skin and also how do i keep my skin clean at night? I do wash my pillow cases daily and such i live a pretty healthy lifestyle not eating too much junkfood and i rarely drink soda or alcohol. Thanks again for everything:)

  22. Misty says

    Hi Tracy,
    I just found this blog. You are absolutely beautiful btw :).
    Ok, so I have suffered from dermatillomania/skin picking for 18 years (since I was 9). It got worse and worse as the years progressed. Thanks to this blog and the helpful link to the stoppickingonme website, I have been clean for one week. This is the longest time I have gone without doing this since the addiction started.
    Here’s my question (and you probably answered it somewhere above, sorry if so): If I’m not supposed to pick anymore, how in the world do I get rid of the little bumps on my skin that never come to a head? In the week that I’ve been ‘sober,’ I’ve noticed a multitude of these bumps popping up. I used to just squeeze them and they would go away…but now I’m thinking they may never go away. I really wanted to just squeeze the hell out of my face tonight. I don’t know where I found the willpower not to. Do you ever get those little bumps? Also, any ideas on how I can shrink my now HUGE pores?
    Thank you!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Misty,
      Good for you for quitting :) I know it’s incredibly difficult, so way to go! As for the bumps… it’s hard for me to say what the solution is since everyone’s acne is different.. I’m surprised to hear that you say that these bumps don’t have a head, yet you squeezed them and that made them go away. Either way… maybe they will go away? You don’t know until you find out…. that’s the thing is that many might pop up initially, but as time goes on and you stop picking so much, fewer pop up due to the lowered irritation.

  23. Avi says

    Thanks a lot Tracy . I am a guy and i also pick on my spots and pimple a lot. For the spot treatment there is this one cream that i use, its supposed to be used only at night while you sleep and wash it off in the morning. Its called Clearz Plus by Dr.Reddy. I am also going to follow this challenge and make it 5 months because i am in India for 5 more months for some work, then back to NYU. I love my skin but i hate even a small zit on my face. This will help my skin to recover and i know thats how it works.

  24. kate says

    Hi thank you so much for your post :) I have been a terrible picker pretty much since puberty hit and only now (well, in the last few weeks), aged 25, have I realised what damage this nasty habit is causing me. I will try your breathing techniques – but I have found having a pen (or anything really) in my hand to be my saviour – every time I feel the need to pick, I write something in my diary, such as how I’m feeling at the time and where about I wanted to pick.

    I too like to pick for old times sake but I now am trying to do it in an out of the way spot that no-one would notice as I’m fed up of constantly either covering my face when I meet new people or walking round with horrid red marks


  25. Amanda says

    Hey Tracey,
    I have always unabashedly popped the pustules (gosh that sounds so gross) whenever they showed up on my face but after reading your articles and stoppickingonme I can finally say that I’ve stopped the bad habit. Recently though I had a major breakout all over the lower half of my face due to changing up my skin care routine (which i have since stopped, lets just say ocm gone bad) and my acne itches so horribly ( I’m hoping this means it it healing? ). Do you have any tips on stopping the itch so I’m not scratching/touching my face? Any help is much appreciated, thanks!

  26. Michelle cannon says

    Hi Tracy,

    I just read the stop picking on me website and I’m terrified!granted I have never used an exacto knife (or any other sharp object) to remove anything from my face. Do you still get the occasional zit in places you used to pop? I really think thus is the last step in my acne fight. I’ve been on Estroblock and FCLO for about 5 weeks and gave noticed a big improvement. But I can’t stop picking! It’s so hard! And I sabotage all my hard work in 10 minutes in front of the mirror. I am so impatient to get rid of the little scars and marks. Part of it is that even though my cystic acne is much improved, I still have tiny clogged pores I want to get rid of. Any ideas?

    Thanks Tracy!


  27. Gemma S says

    Hello, I came across your website and this article in particular a few weeks back and I love how informative it is and how much work has gone into it. Well done. I also like how it is not the same old typical advice – just drink water, exercise and don’t pick…if only it were that easy. I managed maybe 2 days without much picking etc but now I just can’t seem to help myself it is such a bad habit and I am struggling so much to stop. I want to stop so much because I have started to notice scars and my skin just will not clear. I am so frustrated with it so I though I would comment here. Did it take you a while to stop picking?

    • Tracy says

      Hi Gemma,
      It was actually more frustrating for me to stop touching my skin all the time, as opposed to picking it (stoppickingonme.com) managed to scare me enough that I was able to stop.

      I know i made the intention here to quit the touching but it didn’t work out that well!!! I fell right off the wagon. It wasn’t until I actually came across the method they use in psychology based therapies to treat skin picking that I was actually able to stop doing it. I wrote a new ebook about the method because it’s so effective: http://thelovevitamin.com/cure-your-skin-compulsions/

  28. Danielle says

    I just randomly found this and it’s like it is me writing! I’m so inspired and have just realized how bad picking/touching actually is for my skin! Thank you so much for making me realize I’m not a freak!!

  29. Allison says

    You are such a beautiful inspiration!!! Thank you! How long did it take you to completely clear up your acne?

  30. myface says

    Your blog is amazing. I am a face picker and I am admitting it. I want to stop and I am stopping at times but it comes back . Doctors won’t help so I’m determined beat this on my own and I was inspired by your blogging and you tube videos that I had to tell you myself and wanted to admit it also.

  31. Jen /myface will now change it . says


    I know there’s hope because I used to pick in front of family and now I don’t anymore. But when I am alone forget it. Every time I admit it to anyone it gets worse. I am so determined to not let this go past a year and half. I know not picking in front of family is a huge step but I want to not as much other places now. I am running out of ideas and I know this isn’t me. Reading your blog every day is really inspiring. Yuur face is fabulous mine is there now but I still pick it. Where do I get your book? Thank you for having a blog about this and for being you. Thank you for the love and support because I dont feel like anyone knows how I feel.

  32. Jen / says


    I bought your book. I am so determined Yet I pick. and have hardly any acne now yet I still can get to my face no matter how hard I try . I feel so much better that I am not alone. I don’t want to keep blogging your page but yet find it some what helpful. I’m getting more compliments from people about my face being clear but I wish the compulsions would stop. The deep breathing does help. The one you recommended from your stomach to breath. It does work. Just its so majorly intense err. I cant wait to get your book now I am really stocked. Thanks for everything so far.

    • says

      Hi Jen,

      Tracy is without internet access for a few days, so she asked me to answer the comments on her blog in the meantime. It‘s great that your skin is a lot better now. This means that you‘re already on the right track, and that‘s awesome! ;)
      I‘m sure that you have the strength to get over your compulsions as well, just think about what you have achieved so far. That‘s very much! I really think that the book can help you, just try to do the things Tracy suggests and integrate those that appeal most to you. :)

  33. jen says


    Thanks so much, I thought of a saying for the habit. I am still picking but I am stopping a little more on my own. the scars are gone but now that I am confronting it I am getting migraines usually what happens. I am so thankful for all of you. I am glad I found this, blog. I can’t can’t wait to get her book. Good people her. :-)

  34. Neptuneblue says

    Hi Tracy… love your blog. I’ve been driving myself nuts for years with the picking and popping and the ever-dreaded mirror-gazing. Yes, it’s true, when we look into the mirror at certain times, we will only see what we either expect to see, are afraid to see or both. Tonight I had a pretty significant setback. I’m try to think that if I can get myself to the point where I don’t look, then I won’t mess with it. But then, sometimes the wondering gives me anxiety. I guess it’s sort of an exposure/behavioral therapy. It’s so hard when you feel something coming on, not to check it out. But nothing good rarely comes of it. However, in regard to the popping vs non-popping in regards to scaring, (this may sound gross) but I really believe that certain acne break-outs reach a “maturity” point where maybe draining or *gently* popping might not be the worst thing. That pimple that’s been staring at you for a month might be ready to pop b/c the infection has had a chance to make it’s way closer to the skin’s surface, but the fresh new blemish you just discovered is probably not ready to be messed with, it will end up expanding 3 times it size along with a lot of heartache. I hate the panic when you TRY to pop and nothing coming out. Then you’re just left with an impacted mess. At least when they pop, you know it’s at least drained and can just heal now. But that’s only like 40 percent of the time for me. So hands-off is probably the best overall route.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Neptuneblue,
      Actually I agree with you there (that sometimes it might be better to pop than not), but you have to know your own skin (and yes, so often we are way overzealous and try to go for it before it’s ready, which is a huge part of the problem!). For me, before I had severe acne and now if I get a pimple every once in a while… if it’s just one pimple, and it’s ready to pop (it’s got a white head, and you know it’s gonna give)… I admit it. Sometimes I just do it. And for me, it really doesn’t seem to be a big deal at all. However, when my skin was bad, because there was so much acne, I found that popping every zit that had come to a head, like I had always done, was simply wrecking my skin. And in that case, I just had to stop all together. So… yep. There is definitely some gray area here.

  35. Neptuneblue says

    oh btw, I’ve tried African Black soap for the residual scaring followed by pure Vit E oil (tochophyrol acetate). I’m not of African American descent, but it seems to work on all ethnicities. One trick I have tried in the past (if only I could stick w/ it), is the lighting. I have a little girl so I can’t cover my mirrors b/c I think that might be confusing to her. But the nightlight trick works well when I commit to it. A little nightlight in the bathroom at home so you can see what you’re doing but the urge to over-analyze your reflection is reduced. So those are my 2 cents on the subject!

  36. Kalie says

    I really want to stop picking. I always pick when i am nervous. I have very low self esteem and i always feel like people are judging me. I always want to cry when i look in the mirror. I have a well rounded life, friends, family, and grades. I think i started picking when I moved schools in 5th grade, I had a very hard time adjusting and my personality changed a lot. I have tried to stop many of times, I feel very hopeless.

  37. says

    Hey:) just a 15 year old looking for sum advice. And I found it!! I’ve been dealing with a lottottottittiooofff stress lately, not to mention the wrestling and sweat. I wash my face 2-4 times a day with multiple treatments. But nothing works:/ and it’s hard to overcome the obstacle of asking out that special girl, without mega volcanoes erupting like Yellowstone. Lmao anyways thanks and I will do my best to follow your rules:) email anytime @—- blayneblayneblayne@gmail.com.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Blayne, you might consider actually washing your face less… less is more when it comes to face washing, you may very well be irritating it and causing your skin to overproduce oil, resulting in acne

  38. CHRIS says

    eat only boiled
    green beans
    cauliflowr baby marrow
    green spanish
    sweet potato
    drink only spring water
    no salt or suger
    use floride free tooth paste

    don’t eat any noodles or cluten
    masters of acne

    meat i eat pork shops only 2 times a week

    i use only sebamed clear face soap
    once a day
    don’t use any treatment or soap






  39. G-cat says

    Thank you for the tips. I think the scare tactic could help. I’m considering taping a picture of a person with skin disfigurement onto all my mirrors.
    I also have a method that helps a little. I rub my face and wherever else with lotion (scented/ unscented doesn’t matter) and it makes my skin a little slippery and hard to mess with. It also gives you a feeling of having smooth skin, so if you don’t look in a mirror you will at least feel beautiful :)


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