Summer Guide to Survive Skin Picking Stigma
As someone with skin picking disorder, summer was always a time of dread. It was as if the warm weather grew stigma the same way it could grow plants. Guidance during those days of my life would have been great for handling fear and shame, and a short summer guide to surviving skin picking disorder stigma is exactly what I'd like to offer now.
Skin Picking Stigma Flourishes in the Summer
If you have excoriation (skin picking) disorder (also called dermatillomania), I'm sure you're very familiar with the struggles of summer. Long clothing to cover marks and scars on your body invites comments about the oddity of it. Wearing makeup to cover up may result in the heat causing it to melt away, eliciting comments about that, too.
Yet, not covering up brings questions in concerned or cringing tones about the state of your skin, followed by unsolicited advice to better care for and heal it. Also, don't you know these marks will scar? (Yes, yes, we do.) And even if they say nothing at all, there are those glances that linger a moment too long.
Flourish definitely seems an apt word for summertime skin picking stigma. While the first situation with clothes and makeup may not be directly stigmatizing, the effort to cover up is a response to the fear of stigma. When I was younger, the annoying comments about overheating or a deficit of warm weather clothing were the lesser of two evils. I suffered through many summers until, finally, I had enough. It was time to face the stigma.
How I Survive Skin Picking Stigma in the Summer
Here's where my short guide unfolds, based on how I survive summers with skin picking stigma. There are some key areas I'll touch on.
Building Confidence to Face Skin Picking Stigma
This is the foundation of tackling stigma for any mental health issue, and dermatillomania is no exception. I had to start by building confidence and facing the fear of skin picking stigma, which I did by starting small. Since hiding behind my clothes was my go-to, I started by wearing capris instead of pants and three-quarter length shirts instead of sweaters. If you're a makeup wearer, maybe it means wearing a lighter layer of makeup to start. From there, I kept pushing the boundary of what I could handle in terms of any stigma that came from showing my skin.
Having People Who Can Offer Support
When acclimatizing yourself to facing stigma, the comments and looks people may make can still sting. It's okay if they are hard to handle. What helped me was having people I could share the experiences with, such as those in peer support groups. These people knew what it's like to receive similar comments or looks and could offer support where I needed it. (See: "Peer Support Crucial to Mental Health Recovery.") It was a great help and something I wouldn't change for the world.
Being Transparent: A Note
When we bear our scarred and picked skin, I've noticed many feel that means we need to be completely transparent about why our skin is the way it is. In reality, we don't. This guide is about being comfortable in your own skin and living without being ashamed of it than being a billboard for dermatillomania. We don't owe anyone our stories. If you'd like to share, that's great, but if not, that's okay too.
These are just a few key points that helped me, and I'm sure there are ways to build off of them. I hope this small guide serves as a starting point for someone, and I welcome anyone who'd like to add their ideas in the comments for this summer guide to survive skin picking stigma.
Barton, L. (2021, May 31). Summer Guide to Survive Skin Picking Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, October 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2021/5/summer-guide-to-survive-skin-picking-stigma