Acne excoriée is a type of acne that is sometimes called picker’s acne because it occurs when the affected individual picks at the acne lesions. The picking exacerbates the acne and causes scars; the scarring leads to more acne and, ultimately, more picking.
The general public has a tendency to minimize the significance of the medical condition commonly called acne. It surprises many people to learn that it is, in fact, a very complicated medical condition that comes in different forms and is caused by different situations. Common acne is often diagnosed as acne vulgaris, with the word acne meaning the outbreak of pimples, of course, and the word vulgaris means common. There is another very disturbing form of acne that gets the name acne excoriee.
Acne excoriee is commonly called “picker’s acne”. The condition usually starts out like other acne outbreaks. A pimple erupts, first one, then another. For most people, this begins during the adolescent years, when the body is undergoing major hormonal changes, some of which trigger the onset of acne vulgaris. For most people, this eruption of blemishes comes at a time in life when even the little things seem big. It’s almost impossible not to poke, scratch and squeeze a bit. The problem with picking acne blemishes is that it’s unsanitary and infection can set in, causing a bigger blemish. When the acne blemishes occur on the face of someone experiencing episodes of self-doubt, and low self-esteem, however, picking the blemishes can lead to a disturbing obsession that is self-perpetuating. A vicious cycle of eruptions and picking and open sores begins that can be very difficult to stop. Excoriated acne is often accompanied by other medical maladies that are more serious, even life threatening. Major medical conditions such as depression, attention-deficit disorders, and other anxiety- and mood-related may be hiding beneath the ravaged surface.
Picking acne – why does it happen?
Acne excoriee usually begins during adolescence, when ideas of self-image are in upheaval and undergoing change, matching the changes going on with the physical body. A fragile self-image may create an atmosphere where every imperfection perceived, real or not, is distorted in significance. By picking away at the blemishes on the face, no matter how small, many people find satisfaction, as if they are picking away at their troubles or their
emotional pain. The underlying emotional trauma manifested in picking acne lesions may also be a coping mechanism. Trauma may be happening at the time the picking begins or it may be a timely outlet for previous trauma.
Popping pimples seems like a good idea at the time. It’s quick, it’s satisfying, and it leaves you with a smooth surface. Problem solved, right? It might seem like it, but every day our acne specialists see the fallout from acne that’s been overzealously picked and popped. Most commonly, popping pimples will leave you with very dark or red spots, even scabs, in the area where you picked. These marks, called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, can take months and even years to go away without chemical peels and the right product for acne scars. Picking too deep can even leave you with permanent pitted, “ice pick” scars that only laser treatments or plastic surgery can improve.
But the real problem with popping your pimples is not the appearance of the surface of your skin, but its affect on your acne overall. Squeezing a pimple damages the follicle wall deep inside your skin, encouraging further inflammation and breakouts in the picked area. You could get a cluster of pimples in the area where you popped, or the popped pimple could come back to haunt you again and again in the same place because the wall of that follicle has been compromised.
To get rid of a pimple, we recommend applying ice to the lesion for a few minutes twice a day in order to reduce redness and swelling, healing your pimple from the inside out. Or, schedule an acne treatment with us. Our acne specialists at Skintherapy Skincare and Acne Clinic can remove dead skin cells and oil from the follicle without breaking the follicle wall and spreading acne bacteria. Better yet, they can recommend the best acne products for you so that you won’t break out in the first place.
If you tend to pick at your skin while watching TV, put gloves on. If you do it in front of the mirror, put a picture of a picked scar on the mirror as a reminder. If you use a magnifying mirror, get rid of it! Whatever you can do to break the cycle.