What Summertime Means for My Skin Picking Disorder

Around age 13, I began to notice that I had trouble leaving my skin alone. I wasn’t just getting rid of pimples here and there — I was obsessed with finding and eliminating each and every blemish that resided on my body.

Over time, the tendency for me to spend hours a day picking at my skin became a great source of stress and frustration. It is both time-consuming and degrading. Shameful. Most of all, it is ironic: I destroy my skin because I want it to be perfect. This is a concept that many struggle with understanding… Why would someone who dislikes blemishes then pick their skin in order to improve it? It’s a difficult question to answer. All I can say for sure is that the urge is, at times, uncontrollable. I cannot stop. I need to rid my skin of each imperfection.

Of course, skin-picking often results in horrid open wounds and later scars that are extremely difficult to heal. I have these scars all over my body, and they remain my biggest insecurity. My face, chest, back and legs are seared with dark purple marks that appear as bruises, which damage not only my appearance but also my confidence.

During the winter, my scars are easier to cover. I can throw on some makeup, a hoodie, and jeans to comfortably walk out the door into a world of judgment. This way I am hidden — no one would know the difference. But as this summer was approaching, I heard the words of my psychologist echoing over and over in my head: “If you can stop picking for just a few days, your legs will heal. You don’t want to be dealing with this over the summer, right? Let’s try to take care of this before you start wearing shorts and bathing suits.”

Just a few days.

Well, the open wounds did heal. But now I’m left with dark scars. I watch my friends vacation in the sunshine while sporting tiny bikinis and enjoying every second. But for me, walking outside while exposing my scars is terrifying and frustrating… I can’t ever seem to get them to heal.

I often lay out in the comfort of my quiet backyard on a lounge chair to get some sun. Although alone, I can’t help but scan over my damaged skin and feel utterly embarrassed. Why can’t I just look like every other woman and have the same skin?

But that’s not the skin I live in. I may never have the perfect “beach body” because of my scars or a number of other reasons, but that has never stopped me from enjoying a beautiful, sunny day. The scars will heal — it takes time and whole lot of self-love. But they will heal. And so will I. Until then, I’m still going outside.

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