The age-old advice for acne is simple: don't pick at a pimple! Most of us know that poking and prodding a whitehead, blackhead or other zit will cause a scar and create more acne. So why do we keep picking?
The answer is partly psychological. You might pick at your skin to make it look better, do it for fun or stress relief, or simply return to the mirror consistently without thinking. Still, it can morph into a habit and you may feel you have no control over it.
Luckily, you do! You can treat the issue psychologically using a technique called habit reversal. Working to change your behavior is one of the more permanent ways you can ensure you stop picking your skin.
Track your behavior. Tracking your actions or "self-monitoring" can be a tremendous help. Keep a small notepad in the bathroom or near the mirror you typically use to inspect your face. Make sure it is readily accessible so you can write down each time the behavior occurs. Write the date, time and what you did (squeezed a zit, for instance). You can adapt this to your liking – tally marks might be easier for you, or you might choose some other way. The bottom line is that you should keep track, and over time you might be able to tell that you tend to pick more when you are tired or bored, or maybe you tend to do it specifically in the morning or at night.
Reverse the habit. Find another action to replace your undesired behavior. In psychological terms, this is called a "competing response." You could try clenching your fists together when you have the urge to pop, or pushing your two fingers together, since it uses the same muscles as picking would. It may seem kind of silly, but give it a shot! Another option is to turn around and walk away from the mirror as soon as you feel the urge to pick. Hold this "competing response" for at least one minute.
Keep experimenting with different methods to find a way to reverse this habit that works best for you. Remember, success means clear, flawless skin!
Treat your acne. If you are still suffering from regular acne, see a dermatologist to find a treatment. A doctor can prescribe topical or oral medication. This might make you feel more confident and also take away any reason you have to pick!