3 Herbal Allies When You Can’t Stop Picking
By Amber Woods
I’m sure we have all had moments where we just couldn’t resist that urge to pick at our faces-- that cystic pimple that won’t go away or those pesky clogged pores!
Or maybe it’s a habit that isn’t even totally conscious-- It’s your go-to when you feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, and next thing you know your skin is raw and inflamed from picking or you’ve just re-picked that same scab that keeps reforming.
Whatever it is, picking can exacerbate breakouts or other skin issues and cause permanent scarring. Of course these results are not desirable, but it’s also not any easy habit to crack. The behavior often lies deep within a stress response and issues of control and self-esteem. Becoming aware of the habit is the first step to working on it.
There’s much psychology to consider around dealing with chronic picking, and it’s a complicated matter. I can’t tackle it all this short blog, but I do want to share 3 types of herbal allies to reach for when you can’t stop picking. These are three forms of plant medicine that can help you to ease away from the desire to pick by supporting your nervous system.
Adaptogens & Nervines:
Adaptogens are herbs that help support your body’s overall stress response. Think of them as basket to carry you along when you might otherwise want to spin out. Nervines are herbs that help relax your nervous system, gently calming anxiety. When combined, they can offer great stress relief. Picking truly happens more often, especially chronic picking, when your mind is just too much to handle. Adding these stress relievers into your supplement routine can really help curb your need to pick.
Although finding the perfect match for your constitution would require working with a trained herbalist, let me recommend a favorite combination that works well for many:
Eleuthero (adaptogen to help hold emotional stress) & Hawthorn Berry (nervine that nourishes the physical and emotional heart).
I recommend taking these in the form of a tincture (an alcohol or glycerine extract).
Take 30 drops of Eleuthero 2x daily and 15 drops of Hawthorn Berry as needed for stress, anxiety, or when you feel like picking.
Aromatherapy & Essential Oils:
Essential Oils are a healing substances made from the aromatic part of a plant, and they are the heart of aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the practice of using scents for healing, and is especially useful in relaxing the nervous system and helping to relieve stress.
Certain scents such as Lavender, Chamomile, and Rose are very calming, and can help when you are feeling that urge to pick.
Essential oils could be used therapeutically in the form of candles, room sprays, face mists, massage oils, or roll-ons to help you relax.
Two of my favorites are Lavender Essential Oil and Rosewater (a by-product of essential oil). Lavender essential oil is the one essential oil I’ve found to be safe to apply to the skin undiluted (one drop on a Q-tip is plenty!). Get a bottle of good quality lavender essential oil and use a drop on your temples or wrists to resist the desire to pick. You can even use lavender essential oil to calm your skin and help it heal after a frantic picking session has already happened (gently apply with a Q-tip).
Rosewater is so refreshing and uplifting. I recommend carrying a small bottle with you, and misting your face and telling yourself you are beautiful any time you feel like picking.
Flower essences are an energetic medicine that are used specifically for emotional healing. They are usually taken by the drop into the mouth or misted on face or into room and breathed in. There are flower essences for everything you might be dealing with (browse the various essences from Sister Spinster & Bach Flower Remedies), but a couple favorites for picking:
-Agrimony is used to help with addictions and compulsions like skin picking
-Crab Apple can help with obsessing over imperfections
-Rescue Remedy is a blend to help calm anxiety
-Eucalyptus encourages a sense of tranquility
-Self Love Spray uplifts the heart and brings about self love and compassion
These are the 3 types of herbal allies to help support yourself when approaching any habit of skin picking. All of these work well to calm the mind, relieve stress and anxiety, and bring about more self love. I hope some of these remedies will help you on your journey towards less picking.
Comment below with thoughts and questions!