Disguising dermatillomania (picked-at finger skin) to look professional
September 15, 2017 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I have to go to a job interview type thing tomorrow and I need to look as professional as possible. Unfortunately I've been super stressed, and I've picked some skin off some of my fingers. Left-hand thumb and index finger are the worst right now, but there is still some evidence (pinkness and scabs) on several other fingers. It doesn't look good, it doesn't look professional. Is there anything I can do? I'm thinking multiple plasters would not look good either.
posted by tangerine_poppies to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Could you use liquid band-aid?
posted by raccoon409 at 2:14 PM on September 15, 2017

I hire people regularly as part of my job. Unless you are applying for a job as a literal hand model, no one cares about this. I promise that your hands are absolutely fine as they are. It's so easy to get caught up in tiny inconsequential things when you're in a stressful situation, but I assure you they do not matter. Do some research on the company you're interviewing with and get a good night's sleep. You're going to crush it!
posted by kate blank at 2:22 PM on September 15, 2017 [31 favorites]

You could put plasters on a couple of the worst ones, and then try concealer on some of the others. I agree with kate blank that it's not a big deal unless you make it one.
posted by ubiquity at 2:24 PM on September 15, 2017

When I get stressed, I do this myself. I've found that if I scrub my hands with a coarse scrub (sugar/salt) then put Aquaphor it really helps and can almost eliminate pinkness and scabs. Your hands will be pretty greasy, but it'll soak in. I'd suggest doing this about an hour or so ahead of the interview.

But also, what has already been said above - most people won't even notice.
posted by TurquoiseZebra at 2:36 PM on September 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Honestly, I'd do many plasters + a quick excuse -- "Had a battle with a thorny blackberry bush and lost, haha!" -- right up front. Then work hard at keeping yourself from picking for if/when you go back for another interview with these people.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:42 PM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Get some cuticle oil at the drugstore and apply 1x/hr from now until then. You will see smoother skin, but no miracles. More importantly though, it will allow you to tend to tend to your body and take care of yourself as you heal, which feels kind of empowering (I say this as a skinpicker myself).

But really: it's unlikely that anyone will notice or let this impact their opinion of you.
posted by samthemander at 2:42 PM on September 15, 2017

Moisturise the crap out of them all day with a good lotion or jojoba oil if you have it, put neosporin on before you go to bed under bandages. Possibly use a dab of concealer on them. But yes, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Just don't lay your hands way out on the table.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:45 PM on September 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

I also thought that moisturizing and trying not to bring attention to your hands is a good idea, but your question/ask history reminded me of a great book you might find useful. The Charisma Myth, which I first saw recommended on AskMe, really helped me feel more confident in interview/workplace situations.

Although this isn't really about physical discomfort, Chapter 3: "The Obstacles to Presence, Power, and Warmth" (book notes) has some good tips I think could help here.
posted by KatlaDragon at 3:15 PM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Plasters with ointment while you sleep are a good idea, just make sure to take them off at least an hour or two before the interview so the pruniness goes away. If any are bad enough to need it, put a fresh plaster on right before the interview. I find that the fabric ones tend to be less obtrusive than the plasticky ones, and if there's a time to splurge on the fancy bandages, this would be it.
posted by asperity at 4:45 PM on September 15, 2017

Just make sure anything with blood or scabs is under a bandaid. Buy good quality ones (maybe the clear Band-Aid brand, smallest size you can manage) and apply shortly before the interview so the bandaids are still clean when you get there.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:54 PM on September 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

I just had an interview today with my own stress-picked thumbs... the interview went perfectly fine and no one looked at my hands.

As someone who also does this as a reaction to stress I have found getting routine manicures, while expensive, keeps me from doing this. If you can get a manicure before the interview, do it. Manicurists are experts and can definitely cosmetically fix anything you got going on.
posted by KMoney at 5:39 PM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Liquid skin with foundation over it covers a multitude of unfortunate things, if it's really terrible.

I'm an occasional picker too. No one has noticed or commented during an interview. I keep my hands in my lap.
posted by ananci at 6:19 PM on September 15, 2017

no one will notice unless you pick during the interview. while you're shaking hands they will be making eye contact, not looking at your cuticles. it will be fine! i would not wear band aids and i definitely wouldn't mention it.
posted by katieanne at 6:24 PM on September 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ignore your hands and they will too. People who don't have dermatotillomania don't know what it looks like or what it signifies. It doesn't register as stress or self-harm to them. I used to be terrible about messing up my hands (thumbs to entire palms) and when people brought it up, they would mostly ask what happened and if I was a burn victim if it was scar tissue; whether I'd been hurt if it wasn't healed yet. If you're worried that people will see your hands as a signal of "this person gets overloaded with stress and self harms, that's not professional behavior") I can almost guarantee you that this won't happen. Whoever is conducting your interview won't judge you on wounds. Good luck!
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:21 PM on September 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Hello derma buddy! I agree completely with moonlight on vermont - people who don't know what it is will not think of it as self harm and it will not be relevant to the job interview at all.

To stop redness and dry up some of the scabs, you can dab calamine on and let it sit for about an hour. Then make a very simple sugar scrub, just whatever granulated sugar you have mixed with coconut or olive oil, and gently exfoliate your hands. Don't get too worried about washing the oil completely off your skin, let the excess soak in. Moisturize your hands thoroughly before bed. Oh, and clip your nails very short so it's harder for you to pick as your scratches heal.
posted by Mizu at 10:02 PM on September 15, 2017

Plasters would draw attention to your fingers, not reduce attention people pay to them.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:49 PM on September 15, 2017

Nthing a simple homemade sugar scrub (olive oil + granulated sugar works for me, about a 1 to 1 ratio so it's very olive oily), scrub it into your hands & fingers for 60 seconds focusing on the cuticles and nails. Wash with gentle soap and moisturize with lots of coconut oil. Usually pretty severe damage becomes almost unnoticeable.

Just wanted to say thanks for the term dermatillomania, I have been doing this to my thumbs pretty aggressively for years and didn't know it was a thing other people did too. It's also very interesting and kind of heartwarming/breaking (there has to be a better word to describe that) to see others treat it in exactly the same way I do.
posted by moons in june at 11:26 AM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Might be too late but my two cents: Unless you are precisely Bandage Flesh colored, a few larger bandages will be less noticeable than lots and lots of little bandages. Good luck with the interview!
posted by yeahlikethat at 2:06 PM on September 16, 2017

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