How to Stop Picking Acne

Guy  popping a pimple
A young man is popping a zit. (Image: JackF/iStock/Getty Images)

Dermatologists often warn patients about the problems that could result from picking acne. Not only does picking inflame the acne to make it worse, it can lead to even more acne and acne scarring later on. If you have the bad habit of picking your acne when you're bored, anxious or looking in the mirror, breaking that habit is imperative to your skin's health. Find ways to distract yourself so that you don't make the problem worse by continually picking at your skin.

Step 1

Track your behavior. Psychologist Mark Bowers, Ph.D., says that the first step to stopping behavior like picking acne is recognizing what you are doing and when you are doing it. This helps you to identify the triggers for your bad behavior. Whether it's looking in the mirror or watching TV, you can be more aware of those times that you are most likely to pick your acne and be ready when those triggers occur to direct your attention elsewhere.

Step 2

Distract yourself so that your hands are occupied when the desire to pick strikes. Take up a hobby that keeps your hands busy, like bead work or video games. Making sure that your hands are occupied when you get the urge to pick your acne may just be the reminder that you need to avoid doing it.

Step 3

Imagine the motion of picking without actually picking at your face. Visualize the motion in your head with your hands in your lap, advises Bowers. This might give you the satisfaction of picking or peeling your acne without doing further damage to your skin.

Step 4

Incapacitate your hands so that there is no way that you can pick if the temptation is especially hard. Sit on your hands, ball them up into fists by your sides, or even use mittens or gloves so that there is no way you can pick your acne.

Step 5

Find a picture of yourself with clear skin, and carry it around in your pocket as inspiration to not pick your acne. Since picking your acne only makes it worse, when you feel the urge coming on, take out the picture and stare at it until the urge goes away.

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