Boy I'm sure glad I replaced that tiny pimple with A HUGE RED SCAR :(
June 25, 2010 11:10 AM   Subscribe

So, I'm an idiot. I suffer from this sort of neurotic cleanliness that manifests in periods of intense picking of any imperfections on my skin. Now I have to live with the consequences. Looking for holistic or homeopathic remedies for the remaining redness. This is probably gross, so just be warned.

After reuniting with an old ex-boyfriend I found myself terribly nervous and self conscious. Just like always, I stationed myself in front of the bathroom mirror and started picking away at the little clogged pores on and around my nose. On the top of my nose was a little tiny baby pimple, so I popped it. But unfortunately, I couldn't give it a rest and now I have this gigantic red spot in its place, far worse than the original pimple. I think I picked some of the skin off.

And I'm supposed to go to a waterpark tomorrow with a bunch of my friends including my ex! I don't think I can bare it at this point, it's right on the end of my nose and so incredibly embarrassing... I washed it, put some neosporin on it, applied a hot and then a cold compress to it several times in the past 24 hours, and then I put honey on the pad of a bandaid and left that on there for about an hour.

Is there nothing else to be done? If this redness doesn't go down (which I'm fairly certain it won't before tomorrow morning) then I don't know that I can stand to get my face wet. I may feel okay about going out if I have concealer, but obviously being in water would negate that. Oh I'm so embarrassed and kicking myself, I love to go without makeup at all and I have such a great complexion in general, I feel as if I have ruined my face.

I am such an idiot. Mark my words, I am done with the face picking.

Anyone have advice for dealing with this injury now?
posted by wild like kudzu to Health & Fitness (48 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Homeopathic does not mean "natural medicine" - it means fake medicine. Please ignore things labeled homeopathic in your quest for remedies.
posted by odinsdream at 11:14 AM on June 25, 2010 [22 favorites]

Why don't you just cover your whole nose in zinc oxide and say you're protecting yourself from sunburn? I mean, yeah, probably not the look you're going for, but at least it's an excuse, right?
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:14 AM on June 25, 2010

Stop messing with it and let it heal. Also, friends who are friends don't notice things like red spots on your face, especially when they are all having fun at a waterpark.
posted by jamaro at 11:15 AM on June 25, 2010

odinsdream thank you for the advice, and infinitywaltz that is a good idea. jamaro that's true, my girlfriends who are going with me probably wouldn't even notice, but being in close proximity (in a freaking bathingsuit, no less) to an ex with a big red mark on my nose makes me damned nervous.
posted by wild like kudzu at 11:18 AM on June 25, 2010

Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment isn't quite the instant miracle the ads claim, but it does work fairly well over a couple of days, in my experience.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:19 AM on June 25, 2010

(Also, stressing out will not help with acne. Try to keep distracted.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:21 AM on June 25, 2010

You know, I'm pretty sure you are a human being. Human beings aren't perfect. Everyone gets facial blemishes; no one is going to hold it against you or care if you have a temporary spot on your nose. It's okay, really. :)
posted by Menthol at 11:22 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Agree with zinc idea. You can get those fun colors and really go with it, attitude wise.
posted by Askr at 11:23 AM on June 25, 2010

Also, side note, if you are at a water park in a swim suit, most guys will not be looking at your nose.
posted by Menthol at 11:24 AM on June 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

To get rid of the redness: soak a cotton pad or kleenex with Visene (or other anti-redness eyedrops) and hold it to the spot for as long as you can. This really, really, really works.
posted by nprigoda at 11:25 AM on June 25, 2010 [6 favorites]

A lot of acne medications, even the over-the-counters, contain ingredients that will make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be careful using them the day before a trip to the water park!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:25 AM on June 25, 2010

Oops, that should be Visine
posted by nprigoda at 11:25 AM on June 25, 2010

Skin picking when stressed is surprisingly common; other people have exactly this worry too, and a lot of people have it much worse ("dermatillomania" if you want something to google).

Nobody looks closely at your face as much as you do, and your ex might be just as concerned that they'll look bad in their bathing suit (or something). And a lot of types of concealer don't actually wash off that easily in water without soap; maybe bring some in your purse and touch it up occasionally during the day if that would help you feel less self-conscious.
posted by dreamyshade at 11:25 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Instead of obsessing about the pimple, you have moved on to obsessing about the red mark. The solution is to stop obsessing.
posted by milarepa at 11:26 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Use some of those eyedrops that are supposed to "Get the redness out" and dab some on there. They constrict the blood vessels.

Also, there are waterproof concealers. Covermark and Dermablend both are, I believe.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:28 AM on June 25, 2010

milarepa, you are very right. i am just that type of obsessive person. a thought gets into my head and it's stuck there for days. i'm trying very hard to accept that we're all human, but when i went to the store to get some coverup just now i couldn't make eye contact with anyone. and menthol, your post made me laugh. thanks for that! also i may very well give the visine a try tomorrow.
posted by wild like kudzu at 11:29 AM on June 25, 2010

Waterproof cover up is your best bet, but you might want to consider getting some comfrey extract at a health food/natural store and applying it to any future incidents with a cotton ball. I use it in a scar cream I made for myself and I'm pretty happy with it.
posted by medea42 at 11:31 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also it's probably WAY smaller than you think it is. I agree with the waterproof concealer idea.
posted by teraspawn at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2010

Your question made me think you are someone who could benefit from therapy.
posted by andoatnp at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2010

You have some pretty great ideas on how to treat it immediately, and I have some advice on how to stop the cycle of picking.

You really have to try hard to remember: IT ONLY MAKES IT WORSE.

Trust me, I know how hard it is to have blemishes on your face. It is so embarrassing and gross. But any time I pick a zit, at least two more sprout up in the same area, and the original one takes longer to go away. Cover it up instead of blowing it up.

Other than remembering that original rule, the biggest things that have helped me is having someone there (my fiancé) to NOTICE me picking my face and tell me to stop immediately. It sounds embarrassing to involve someone in your compulsion, but it'll help to condition you out of the habit. Also, see a dermatologist. If you can't do that, experiment with a new face washing routine. I was surprised that using a toner with moisturizer and a gentle NON-ACNE face wash product, and even more moisturizer (with a small amount of salicylic acid) would cure most of my acne woes. Don't be so harsh on your face. Treat it with the respect it deserves, and it will (hopefully) respect you back. Good luck. You are beautiful. :D
posted by Lizsterr at 11:38 AM on June 25, 2010

you might find some solutions here.
posted by nadawi at 11:44 AM on June 25, 2010

There are some serious waterresistant concelears out there. Make sure to let it dry completely before going out.
posted by stormygrey at 11:52 AM on June 25, 2010

I came in here to recommend the Visine as well, too. Under the circumstances, I wanted to mention that it might dry out your skin a little, so 1) try to keep the application to just the red spot, and 2) if you do get a little bit of dry, flaky skin there, don't pick at it!
posted by juliplease at 11:56 AM on June 25, 2010

Visine anti-redness drops.

And stop screwing up your skin. The scars are worse than temporary red marks.
posted by rr at 11:56 AM on June 25, 2010

Neutragena Spot On for zits. Put it on before you go to bed.

Trust me, people have all sorts of imperfections and water on your face won't make a difference. You'll still have fun and enjoy the day. No one is going to obsess at "OMG that red spot".

I mean, there are grosser things in the water park. Like floating band-aids or wet scabs on kids' knees.
posted by stormpooper at 12:03 PM on June 25, 2010

Visine works, but in addition, you can try a green-tinted concealer. There should be a couple different ones available at any drugstore, as well as Sephora, if you have one near you.

They look weird, but they really cancel out the redness (think of complementary colors). Apply over the spot, pat outwards, set with a powder. Unless you really mess with your face by rubbing it, or scrubbing with a towel, it should work.
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:04 PM on June 25, 2010

thank you guys so much for all of your help :/ i know this is a problem i really need to address and i really appreciate all the advice! this website is awesome.
posted by wild like kudzu at 12:08 PM on June 25, 2010

Hiya, I just wanted to say that you might have some OCD/anxiety issues and you're not an idiot for that. It's just a thing. It doesn't make you an idiot.
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:26 PM on June 25, 2010

I put vitamin E oil on my skin to help it heal.

I am very impressed with you and your confidence if you are going to a water park and the only issue you have with the way you look is a red mark on your nose. Everybody gets skin blemishes from time to time.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:26 PM on June 25, 2010

johnnygunn, yes it's true, the red mark is really the only thing i'm worried about. though i have ocd tendencies (this manifestation is the most prevalent of them) i am actually very happy with the way that i look and my generally clear complexion. in fact, i think that because i almost never have any blemishes or spots whatsoever it sends me into a panic when one does crop up. it also, in my mind, makes it stand out more. i sincerely hope i haven't done long term damage to my face.

& thanks thirteen killer. i know i'm not really an idiot, but i did something i knew i shouldn't have and that was not smart.
posted by wild like kudzu at 12:33 PM on June 25, 2010

I've done neosporin in just this situation, overnight, and it has helped
posted by pyro979 at 12:37 PM on June 25, 2010

The state of the art in anxiety disorders-- including compulsive skin picking-- is getting a hell of a lot better in terms of medication and therapy. You might want to consider consulting an OCD specialist who's up on the new hotness.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:50 PM on June 25, 2010

Witch hazel is a good topical anti-inflammatory, and considered "natural." A good cosmetic blemish cover will help (you can get green ones that counteract the red of your skin). A layer of foundation to even it all up, top with a light coating of powder. And stop picking!! (I am a picker like you. so I know what it is like.)

If you need help with makeup, go to the Mac or Clinque counter at a department store. Tell them you need help covering red marks and evening out your skin. Mac is pretty good at this. Both will do complementary makeup for you, showing you how to apply the makeup. Mac has a good base (a bit like pancake), Clinque is good for blemishy skin.
posted by fifilaru at 12:54 PM on June 25, 2010

If you crushed or removed the skin on your nose, *nothing* will totally remove the redness except time/healing. Sorry. It's one thing if it was just irritation. But, having some idea of what you did - and having done similar neurotic things - I can tell you that once you actually *damage* the skin, it will only heal at the rate that your skin heals, which is going to be a couple of days.

Make sure that you keep the area soap-and water clean. If you're going to try covering up with zinc oxide or cosmetics, be aware that there's a slight chance that you'll infect it - not likely, but you have to keep aware of it. So, right before and right after, make sure the area is washed. And, maybe give it a swipe with some hydrogen peroxide for good measure.
posted by Citrus at 1:00 PM on June 25, 2010

Use nothing with salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Most of the products mentioned have one of those three ingredients. While they are good products, in the short term they can be drying. The acids also exfoliate which more prominently reveals the red, bruised skin underneath. If you had an unpicked pimple, you could use any of those products and it might lessen the severity of the pimple by morning. In the current condition, it'll turn your already red spot into a redder, flaky dry skin, pimple spot. Not what you want.

Here's what you do. __Stop__ No more products. No more picking. No more hot and cold compresses. The hot is dilating the blood vessels and allowing the blood to pool.

The best thing you can do to improve that spot by tomorrow is to Not Touch It Again. If you need to obsess (and sometimes that happens) obsess about how perfectly you avoiding touching your face.
posted by 26.2 at 1:08 PM on June 25, 2010

Blackheads, whiteheads and other variations of clogged pores are a medical condition. Homeopathic remedies don't work. Go to a dermatologist, get on something like Retin-A (or even Accutane for a permanent solution), and you'll never have to worry about your face again.
posted by halogen at 1:41 PM on June 25, 2010

Would it make you feel better to make up some kind of story ahead of time to explain the mark? I mean, is it really the red mark that's so embarrassing? Or the way that it got there? Is it so noticeable that someone may ask you about it and that's why you're feeling so frantic? You could say you accidentally burned your nose with the curling iron or something. I did that once on my forehead and it left a big red mark and some peeling skin.
posted by cottonswab at 2:07 PM on June 25, 2010

Just a side note if you do decide to use concealer:

Start out with moisturized skin - concealer can make dry skin look flaky. Make sure to pat the concealer on - do not rub! When I used to use concealer, I would just tap-tap-tap with the tip of my ring finger. Also, start out with just a teensy bit. Concealer has a tendency to settle into any lines, creases and pores. You can always dab on a touch more if necessary, but if you over-apply, you really will need to start all over, thus furthering irritating your skin.

In general, minimize the negative (your red bump), accentuate the positive. I know you're going to a waterpark, so colorful accessories or doing something creative with your hair are probably out, but wear a fun bikini or do something else to distract others & yourself from the redness. Really, no one's going to notice! Even if they do, they'll probably figure you're just getting a little too much sun. Enjoy yourself & have a good time, and remember nobody's perfect - your ex has had zits, too.
posted by pecanpies at 2:56 PM on June 25, 2010

wild like kudzu: I'm a picker, too. It's clear to me that you already know that picking makes things worse and is a symptom of OCD and anxiety disorders, and I'm sorry you've received so many comments (however legitimate) along those lines. You seem to be taking them graciously, but I know that that particular response used to agitate my own anxieties. So, first: don't beat yourself up. Compulsions are hard to understand from the outside, and the problem is not a reflection on your common sense, intelligence, awareness or even willpower. Also, what I'm about to tell you also doesn't all directly pertain to the damage control you're trying to do right now, and I apologize for the way that limits its helpfulness, but I promise it's good.

One of the best things I ever did about my picking, while I was waiting for the work we did in therapy to kick in, was to buy a blackhead extractor for six bucks from a cosmetic shop, and carrying it with me everywhere I knew picking was a risk. It's a little metal doohickey with rounded donut holes (for lack of a better description) on either end, in two sizes. You wash your face or steam your pores and then press down with the proper sized donut around the pore (it doesn't have to be a blackhead, it works on any kind of acne or sebum) until all that nasty stuff gushes out. It hurts less, scars less, and works better than your fingernails. It's what they use to get rid of zits during a facial.
Cover up the mirrors in your house, if you can, so you can't get caught up in scrutinizing your face every time you catch a glimpse of yourself.

As for what you do right now: yeah, you need to leave it alone. Wash any remaining honey or other gunk off of it, put on some neosporin again (and the band-aid isn't a bad idea if you think you can forget it's there) and have someone tape some goddamn oven mitts on your hands like a kid with the chicken pox until it's time to go tomorrow. I am not kidding. If you want any hope of the red mark going away, you need to stop messing with it, and your brain's not going to let you do that, so put as many physical barriers as possible between you and your nose, so you have more time to catch yourself in the act. If it were me, I'd ask my best buddy (or my mom if I were still at home, moms are great for this) to come over and babysit: tape the mitts on and then set up a movie marathon to distract me, bring me something I can drink through a straw, laugh with me about how ridiculous it all is. You can return the favor someday when they're in a slightly silly personal crisis.
posted by dee lee at 2:56 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Dabbing some calamine lotion on your nose before you go to bed will help reduce the redness. And yes, green-tinted concealer is the best for hiding red spots.

Good luck tomorrow! Have so much fun you forget about your blemish!
posted by Rora at 2:56 PM on June 25, 2010

Some of these books on dermatillomania (compulsive skin picking) might be helpful for you as you work toward breaking the habit down the road. Also, although it's specifically about hair pulling (trichotillomania), this book has some great insight into the mental processes involved in this kind of compulsive behavior, which you might find helpful as well.

Good luck! (I used to pick my skin terribly in high school and college, so I know it's possible to eventually break the habit.)
posted by scody at 4:43 PM on June 25, 2010

Girl, we've all been there.

But let's look at this situation objectively. Aside from the limited effects of the neosporin and visine, I think the writing's on the wall: you will have a huge red spot on your nose tomorrow when you see your ex at the waterpark, and he probably will notice. Depending on how hostile your breakup was, he may feel some degree of internal satisfaction. Alternatively, he may feel embarrassed for you, especially if you seem embarrassed too. But, once again, he probably will notice. However, the impact it will have on his assessment of you is in your hands. The more effort you put into trying to hide the truth, the more you'll draw attention not only to the scar but also to your embarrassment, and ergo, to the fact that you care what he thinks about you. And that - THAT - is the true danger, for when encountering exes, the most important thing is to show no weakness!

For the love of God, do not lie! Like I said, we've all been there, and everyone knows a zit wound when they see one. Thus, any lie will inevitably be completely transparent and the best you can hope for is that your companions will just silently disbelieve you.

In particular, do not:

1. Cover it up with zinc oxide and say that your nose - just your nose! - must all of a sudden be protected from the harsh sun, and give no explanation about why this is the case. You will look like Ug, if Ug had a giant zit scab underneath his zinc oxide.

2. Blame it on the curling iron. Puh-leeze.

3. Do a painstaking concealer job and then make up some excuse why you can't get in the water. First of all, unless you have access to an airbrush and/or skin putty, the best you can hope for is to tone down some of the redness. But you can't conceal a scab. (Believe me, I've tried. The results are not pretty.) Second of all, what if your ex guesses the truth? To quote the YM magazine Say Anything scale:"Complete and Utter Humiliation."

Listen, I feel your pain. But, and not that I would ever do this, once you find yourself contemplating actually using the hot curling iron to camoflage the zit scar with a legitimate wound, this is the point where you realize that you are insane, and you begin to imagine the ex in question somehow finding out that you are facially disfigured from trying to cover up an acne scar with a second-degree burn. And you stand there utterly mortified by this scenario that never actually happened, and your roommate walks by and says, "Uh...are you okay? You look distressed." And you say, "Nothing! I mean, yes! I'm okay!" And then you just say fuck it and when you see your ex at the waterpark you take the first opportunity to say "OMG, I am so embarrassed about my giant red zit scab" and then it's out in the open and you have fun at the waterpark!

(On behalf of my girlfriend (sorry darling), it could be worse - at least your last name isn't Rudolph.)

(This answer is long.)
posted by granted at 12:38 AM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well I have to say I am very thankful for all of your advice, hive. Due to an unrelated (or, I don't know... how can things running through one's brain be truly unrelated) series of events it is 4 am and I am laying here, thinking about life. I've worried about this damn stupid spot on my nose all friggen day. I did manage to cover it up at work, but when I got home I realized I had sweated off most of the concealer. No one said a thing.

In light of the inevitabilities of life, and the unpredictability of my ex boyfriend's reaction to my temporary-- and indeed common-- imperfection, I have come to a conclusion. Anyone who I would want to notice my face up close, who I would want to impress or be romantic with, would simply not give a good golly gee gosh willikers whether my face was blemish free or horribly scarred. It's not, even. I overreacted a little, though I know the consequences of my actions may stick with me for the rest of my life, and I don't aim to do so tomorrow.

So, here's my plan. I'm going to get up, dutifully apply sunscreen AND some coverup, throw on my bathingsuit and go have an amazingly fun time. My personality, smile and bikini-clad body should be enough to attract the attention of anyone worth my time. Those who would notice and shun me, either quietly or publicly, are simply not really worth my time. If nothing else I will be great fun to be around, and I realize now (with your help, thank you again) that not a single person is going to go home thinking "man did you see the red spot on kudzu's nose? She must be an obsessive/neurotic/anxious LOSER". I plan to be so goshdarned confident that I completely forget about the damn thing. If I'm worrying about it, chances are I'm bringing attention to it, right?

Anyway, not everything is coming out exactly as it sounds in my head, but then again it's 4 am. It's very seriously time for bed.
posted by wild like kudzu at 1:08 AM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

This woman seems to be handling it a little differently.

Good on you for recognizing this is not such a big deal. As I said before, if you have no issues with being in a bikini in a water park you have a very good sense of self and should not concern yourself. Hope you enjoyed it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:16 PM on June 26, 2010

I'm a picker, too, and here are a couple of tips that haven't been mentioned yet. Maybe they'll help you in the future!

1. Keep your fingernails super short. It's hard to do much damage with little nubbins. Plus, clipping and filing my nails and neatening my cuticles sometimes satisfies that urge to pick at something.

2. Calamine lotion also helps ease redness. I use this right now, and it's not terribly drying, but it does a great job getting rid of redness, so that even if I've damaged the skin it's not immediately obvious to everyone I meet. There is salicylic acid in it, though, so I'm considering just trying straight up calamine lotion once my bottle runs out.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 4:58 PM on June 26, 2010

What you need is some cold witch hazel on a cotton pad, and to hold it on the spot with decent pressure for several minutes.

Witch hazel is well-known and widely used for reducing minor skin inflammations and redness. I have this terrible habit of face-picking as well, and this remedy does help. But the sustained, blunt pressure along with the witch hazel is very important.
posted by Ouisch at 5:01 PM on June 26, 2010

Also, if you've actually removed some of the skin, I've found it helpful to sleep overnight with a bandaid dabbed with a bit of triple antibiotic ointment. Often, when I wake up the next morning, the skin is faster along its way to being healed, and the ointment also seems to help a lot with the redness (not to mention, preventing infection.)
posted by Ouisch at 5:03 PM on June 26, 2010

I have exactly your problem - I feel like by picking, I'm making it better, and getting rid of the nasties. It's not that weird, although I will admit that having scabs on my face doesn't make me feel better in the long-run!
posted by mippy at 3:04 PM on June 27, 2010

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