Sunday, 4 October 2015

BFRB Awareness Week: My story

My dermotillomania is linked to my sensitive skin history.

Growing up, I was always the one with the "bad" skin. I tried everything I knew of to fix my skin: Every quick-fix, every advertised product, every advice from people with polar opposite skin types from mine. Nothing helped. Of course that doesn't surprise me now, but growing up skin products came in"normal", "combination" and "problem skin".

The skincare market has changed for the better since then.
Thank a deity of your choice for that.

Since I had problems with my skin, I assumed I had problem skin. As in: Acne and breakouts. So I spent decades trying to dry my skin into submission.

Of course that only aggravated the problem.

Pretty early in the clusterfuck that is the history of my skincare, I remember having the disordered thought that an open wound was better than the breakouts I got (From the harsh products I tortured my skin with), so I rationalized abusing my skin.
I can't remember which came first: The picking or the failed attempts of fixing my skin.

But pick, I did.
Every little imperfection I could find.
And people gave me hell for my "stupid habit".
Which of course only made me more anxious.
Because you can't just will yourself to stop picking.
It got a lot worse around the time where my mother decided that my nail biting was irritating to her and needed to be stopped. So I went from one anxiety outlet to the other.

Which is why it was such a relief to discover that dermotillomania is a thing. It explained so much. It explained the anxiousness of needing to pick and why I couldn't just will myself to stop.

I used to pick at everything, but now it's limited to just my shins.
Learning to care for my sensitive skin has helped so much. Learning to use the right tools and methods, and understanding that there is no "magical product" made a world of difference.
Somehow the Korean skincare routine somehow satisfies my urge to mess with my skin.

I learned a lot from being "the one with the bad skin". An understanding of how shallow and horrible people can be. How insensitive. How rude. How ridiculously misinformed people can be and still be completely stuck up and believing they are experts.

And how it feels to not be at home in your own skin.

You learn to let the small things go and only sweat the big things. And you learn to be a more tolerant person. One that doesn't need to comment on people's appearance.

And you learn how it makes you breathe a sigh of relief when you learn you don't "just have a bad habit".
Which is why I share this.

Maybe some of your out there recognizes yourself in what I post this week.
If that happens: You are not alone.


  1. Thank you so much, dear Lady Igor, for dedicating yourself in bringing your own knowledge and personnal experience about this.
    For years I've wondered about this condition. My brother used to very severely pluck at his nails and cuticles -for 20 years- and yet what we got from the family doctor was just about "bad habit" and nothing more in depth.

    I think this issue is dealt with much neglect by common people, not to say shallowness and mockery -how fun it is to laugh at someone's gnawed and bruised fingers, instead of trying to understand there might be some suffering behind this! (irony here).

    Later, I read some interesting articles about it, but you might belong to the very few people who really give a scientific and well-documented look at it.
    So, once more, you have all my sympathy and I can but encourage you with the Dermotillomania articles.


  2. Excellent post, thanks for your efforts here.
    Some great insight.

  3. I am so sorry you had to deal with horrible people commenting on your skin and thus, created this. I wish people would understand that, especially when it comes to the appearance, any negative comment can and will really, really affect someone's confidence. I had acne, but nothing I deemed too terrible. My parents treated it like it was a horrible crime to have the odd pimple. Then, when I began riding, well, dirt plus very oily skin meant acne on my back, arms , face and chest. nothing like what I've seen, but sadly, people just have this ingrained sense that a pimple is just a crime. I found decent products to keep my oily skin (and scalp) at bay, but never understand the fuss. I had other issues going on.

    I have a few friends who suffer from this---some are mild, one friend was severe to the point of very unhealthy harm. I do pick, but I don't pick to the point of what defines dermotillomania.

    Thank you for sharing your story and I still cannot believe you feel you have bad skin--every photo I have seen of you, your skin glows! Just shines----I just see a beautiful young lady, inside and out :)

  4. Thank you for this post.
    I used to pick my scalp a lot as a teenager, I was always running my fingers around on my head, searching for a tiny scab or bump I could scratch. I had acne as well, so my face got pretty much the same treatment. I always felt that an open, bleeding sore was better than a bump. I manage to leave my scalp alone for the most part these days, but I find it pretty difficult to not pick on the few pimples I get on my face. If I'm nervous or stressed out, I automatically start rubbing my fingers around my hairline, looking for something to scratch and pick on.