Updated 17 May 24: ONGOING: Talking about dermatillomania and hyperpigmentation

*****Post originally published 24 April 2024*****
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17th May 2024, video taken 17th May 2024













So it occurred to me to not only take videos to monitor my hyperpigmentation process, but to also take photos for a quicker side by side evaluation from week to week.  So there are the videos and the photos I have just taken today. Actually, I feel a lot better about the photos now that I am seeing them in a larger size onscreen. When viewing them on my much smaller mobile phone screen it looked as if both sides of my face were just covered with a thick coating of hyperpigmentation, and I wondered whether I was truly making progress after all.

Looking at it here on my laptop it is clear that there are some small patches of regularly pigmented skin starting to show through, where the previous layers of hyperpigmentation have been burnt away.

Additionally the remaining hyperpigmentation is getting lighter as more hyperpigmented skin cells burnt off, until hopefully they will soon be all gone!

So on one hand, it is clear that there is definitely still a way to go, on the other hand progress is definitely happening. It also makes sense to me to continue making this a main priority just now.

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6th May, video taken 2nd May 2024

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Hyperpigmentation Video 1 Thursday 11th April 2024

Hyperpigmentation Video 2 Weds 24 April 2024

Some vocab:  Dermatillomania, or obsessive skin picking is the habit of picking at my skin.
Hyperpigmentation is the resulting deep discoloration of much darker skin that comes as a result of the scarring that results from the skin picking.

VERY IMPORTANT POINT: I want to make it clear that I am not at all offended if someone saw my face and thought it looked awful, because that is what I also thought! If you are a would-be romantic prospect, I assure you that I am not at all offended if the state of my skin has put you off. I will not think you superficial. Looking back, perhaps this is what put them all off – ha ha ha! There nothing wrong with knowing what you want in marriage, and what you are attracted to and there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting an attractive spouse. If anything, I may have been a little hypocritical as I too have unapologetically specified an attractive man as one of my criteria! 🤣🤣🤣

So I have not written on here in what feels like ages! Truth be told, I have not really had the headspace to apply myself to any work that requires deep concentration. This has affected not just “Huggie-Wuggie”, but lots of my other work endeavours. And yet, that has actually turned out to be advantageous. I usually have a very strong work ethic so I am happy to cut myself some slack whenever I am just not “feeling” it, whether that be for an individual day, a week, a month or even longer. However this is not a failing of my work ethic. It is just an issue of current circumstances.

To get to the subject of this post (I apologise in advance for typos, this is a particularly difficult keyboard) I struggled with a dermatillomania, or obsessive skin picking habit, for a long time. I previously wrote about this here before, and in that post I did not want to reveal how long I had had the habit. It was actually over two decades, on and off, far more on than off. I apologise to anyone who ever had to observe my fingers at work, because to be candid, it was unattractive! Oh very well, the correct word for this is “disgusting”!

I really want to thank everyone who may have been praying for me regarding this, because I truly believe that your prayers have been answered! Mine too, but to be candid while I wanted to deal with it, it was never a priority for me to invest serious prayers into, relative to the other big issues of my life. So in practice I tolerated the habit, as awful as it was. Because of the scarring I caused to my skin, it left me with severe skin discoloration, which was also so unattractive.

Answered prayers:
This is where answered prayers come in. As I say, I have wanted to kick the habit, and I have tried on and off over the years. However, believe it or not, it takes time to kick a habit, I mean a dedicated investment of time and headspace, and for a long time I just did not have the time, headspace or prayer life to deal with it.
I am so happy to be able to state that as of this past Christmas I have finally kicked the habit. And the way I finally managed to kick it built on previous attempts to break free. Previously I had developed the habit of forcing myself to hold my fingers still and count to 20 each time I caught myself picking at my skin. On those previous attempts, my aim was to stop myself picking at my skin. This time, I disciplined myself not to touch my face at all, apart from when cleansing it. As long as I allow myself to touch my face, I know that I will fall back into the habit. And then I use the 20 second rule to discipline my fingers each time I touch my face at all, whether or not I pick at it. So now I no longer habitually touch my face, meaning that I no longer pick at my skin either, further meaning that, by the grace of God, I am confident that the habit has finally been kicked, 20+ years later! (I’ve suspected for years that the key was to discipline myself not to touch my face at all, but I think I was hung up on having time and headspace to truly tackle the habit. In the event one day I just decided – and I just kept it going.)

Secondly, I have also started dealing with the facial discoloration, hyperpigmentation in earnest. Thankfully it was only my face that I truly attacked, not the rest of body (although I have recently been scratching away at insect bites.) Now here is the thing, there is a remedy that I accidentally discovered years ago, which I have been half-heartedly applying on and off for years now.  There are many, many expensive remedies touted for hyperpigmentation “out there”. I am not only reluctant to invest money into something if I am unsure that it is going to work, the simply truth is that I am reluctant to invest lots of money period! How annoying that such a cheap habit should have such an expensive solution! So thankfully then, yours truly happened upon the cheapest, but likely also the most effective way to deal with severe hyperpigmentation.  The truth is that I was not sure that it was working. Furthermore, I knew that it was futile to try to deal with the discoloration while the habit was still live in my life. All that made me a little bit hesitant to truly invest myself into this. But since I finally broke the habit, I have been applying the discoloration remedy more consistently, but still without being sure that it was actually working. But then it occurred to me just a few weeks ago that I could simply just regularly film my face and observe to see any noticeable difference. And that is the reason why I took the videos above.

And oh my goodness, based on the videos above, it truly is working! The first video above was taken almost 2 weeks go. The second video was taken just a few minutes before I started writing this post.

In the run up to the first video, I had been applying the remedy a few minutes a day. I knew that something was happening, but it was taking ages!  So it suddenly occurred to me just a couple of days ago that I could greatly speed up the process by just spending more time with it, investing a good length of time each day (I mean hours.) And that is what I have done, and that is why my skin is visibly peeling in the second video. Applying the remedy more modestly as I had been doing before meant that the process would take longer, but it would happen in a smoother way which would never leave my skin looking unpresentable.

What I am going to relate to you next is another answer to prayers, and why I felt that I had to type this post out right here and now. I realised that it is precisely because I uncharacteristically do not have the necessary headspace to work intensively that I currently have the necessary hours each day to devote to this, with the hope that all the discoloration would have cleared in a few months time. Now here is the thing: I am definitely still working, and quite hard too! However there is a level of concentration that you need to write blog posts and do other things which I just cannot muster just now.  And that is the reason why I have all this time on my hands. Usually when I cannot work it eats away at me and I get very frustrated very quickly. This time though I am at peace, and I know that I only need to be patient before I can hopefully resume a more productive schedule. Because I am at peace about it, I can give myself to dealing with this discoloration.

And you know what made me very excited that this is all likely an answer to someone’s prayer? The fact that all these things have literally happened all at the same time. While fretting about the appearance of my face, which I have hated for many years because of the discoloration, I’m not sure that I realised that so many things had to fall into place in just the right way to be able to deal with it. There is also another incredible answer to prayers that has happened very recently which has also contributed to this situation which I do not want to go into but altogether these things are working together like a positive perfect storm, and I am finally grabbing the opportunity to deal with this longstanding issue.

So then if there is anyone praying regarding this, I would truly like to thank you! As I say I myself have not really been praying about this as I could have been. I vaguely had intentions to deal with it/address it more if I ever got into a romantic relationship, however the prospect of that seemed so remote. The truth is that the “two year thing” buys me some time. Even if I did meet someone, I knew that it would take me two years before I could seriously start considering him so if necessary, I could deal with it/look into it within those two years! Which is possibly a lazy way of thinking, but yeah! So once again I thank anyone who might be praying, I suspect and hope that I know who you are, and once again I am truly grateful!

Additionally I know it might seem a little ridiculous to have such a long list of criteria for my husband when I have such a huge and unattractive feature on my face. However, it was because my list was so difficult to satisfy that I could afford not to deal with my own discoloration, because realistically few men were going to make the standards anyway,  and if someone did look as if he might meet that standard, I theoretically had two years to deal with it. And if in the meantime someone decided that he did not want to be with me because of my skin discoloration, it ultimately would not matter as I would realistically not want to be with him anyway. As awful as this sounds, this skin discoloration has probably come in handy for fobbing off some unwanted male attention, although truth be told my smile often manages to pierce through the darkness! 🤣🤣🤣

The remedy:
In case anyone wants to try the mysterious remedy, here it is:

Disclaimer: Please use this remedy with caution, and at your own risk, please do your own research. This seems to work for me, but everyone’s skin is different. This is in essence a simple homemade chemical peel, so it works by chemically burning off layers of skin, hence the peeling skin. It might be a good idea to try it out first on the back of your hand, and obviously do not use it at all if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. Using this treatment will likely make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so please use it at night or as part of your evening routine. And don’t forget to use your sun protection.

Ingredients:
One tablespoon coconut oil
4 teaspoons sodium bicarbonate (also called baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda)

Step one: Getting liquid coconut oil. If you already have a tablespoon of liquid coconut oil, you can go to step two.

Put one tablespoon of coconut oil into a small, clean heatproof glass jar. Place the jar into a small metal pot and place that on a wad of folded newspapers.
Melt the coconut oil by pouring boiling water into the pot, around the glass but not into it. Stop when the water level is a few millimetres below the top of the jar. The heat of the boiling water will melt the coconut oil. Use a metal teaspoon to stir the coconut oil to melt it faster.

Step two:
Mix in 4 teaspoons of sodium bicarbonate or baking soda into the tablespoon of melted coconut oil. Mix thoroughly for a couple of minutes until it forms a smooth paste of even consistency. Carefully remove the jar from the pot, using oven gloves or mittens if necessary. Place the jar onto a saucer, and, if necessary, let the mixture cool down for a few minutes.

Step three
Rub the mixture into your face liberally. You an use your fingers if you wash them first. I have found it easier to use a make up brush with super soft bristles. Unfortunately, doing this very quickly destroyed the makeup brush. So now I am back to my fingers!

Step four
Remove the mixture from your face using a damp cloth. This is harder than you might imagine so I first use a damp cloth to get as much off as I can, and then I will have a shower to get the remainder off, so I schedule this treatment for when I plan to take a shower. You could of course simply wash your face.

Now here is the thing: the active ingredient, sodium bicarbonate, is *very bad* for your skin, and hair. Skin and hair are both slightly acidic, but sodium bicarbonate is alkaline. So the alkaline of the sodium bicarbonate neutralises the acids of your skin, breaking the bonds that hold the skin together. This would be a bad idea most of the time. However, for the purposes of hyperpigmentation I actually want to remove the hyperpigmented skin, and replace it with regularly pigmented skin. Somehow, the sodium bicarbonate seems to reach into my skin just deep enough to break the bonds between layers of skin, but crucially without causing further hyperpigmentation. (Actually looking at my skin I think this more aggressive method *does* cause further hyperpigmentation. However for me it is still worth it as the resulting hyperpigmentation is a lot less than what was there before.) I am not a dermatologist. I have watched one or two videos on YouTube but I do not understand how it works. However it does seem to work.
If you want to do it gently as I had been doing before, perhaps for light hyperpigmentation then you can rub it on your skin until your skin slightly starts to tingle. In my experience this takes about 3 and half minutes per day of focused rubbing in one area. This will then be slowly working to remove the existing top layers of skin, but in a gentle way which will not be noticeable from day to day. The lighter method did not noticeably cause further hyperpigmentation.

I have chosen to use a more aggressive method because
1. My hyperpigmentation is quite severe and
2. I want it gone as quickly as possible

I don’t feel that it would be responsible to share the more aggressive method I am using. However, please note that it is crucial to stop if you notice bleeding. I believe that it is bleeding that causes further scarring, and consequently, further hyperpigmentation.

Layers?
I think that my hyperpigmentation is severe because it is made of many layers of hyperpigmented skin. So when one layer of skin peels off, I eagerly check just to see that my hyperpigmentation is still there. So it might look as if it is not working. However it is removing a layer at a time, so the hyperpigmentation is getting lighter and lighter with each removed layer, until it will hopefully be finally gone altogether. Just earlier today (Friday 26th April) I saw a lady in a shop and I could see that she had very light hyperpigmentation on her face. It was so light that it was almost imperceptible. If I managed to get to that level then I could stop the more aggressive approach and resume the more gentle approach until it is fully gone.

Timing?
A big part of the reason I can afford to embrace the more aggressive method just now is because I don’t have a job where I have to face people. So there is no-one to be alarmed or horrified at the sight of my peeling skin. Yes, I went out with my face like this earlier which is when I saw the lady! However, one place I do go to regularly is church, every Sunday. Last week I was not really thinking about it and I took myself to church with my peeling skin. Thankfully, no-one said anything. This week though, I am going to be more careful. So I used the aggressive method up until Wednesday, and then left a few days for the layers of burnt skin to peel off. Hopefully by Sunday the burnt skin will have fully peeled off, leaving my skin looking normal, minus one layer less of hyperpigmentation. Today I brought an exfoliating sponge to help the process along, which was what I was doing in the shop when I saw the lighter hyperpigmented lady.

Finally, regarding the swelling under my right eye, I am also dealing with that! It is apparently a harmless cyst. I have an appointment to see a specialist, but the NHS currently being what it is, that is months away. In the meantime, and because I also want that to disappear as quickly as possible, I am applying home remedies and prayers. I actually suspect that that may have been caused/made worse by my dermatillomania habit too…

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