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Summer Tips for Sufferers

Summer is glorious, especially in Chicago.

After a barbaric winter that sometimes begins in October and usually doesn’t loosen its icy grip until May, the sun finally begins to shine, temperatures become pleasant, and it’s finally safe to come outside. Winters suck, the only reward for enduring them is three months of summer.

And whether it’s taking selfies in front of The Bean, hitting up one of the beaches, hanging at Wrigley Field, or partaking in one of the thousands of other activities Chicago has to offer, there’s plenty to do around here in the summer.

But for sufferers of Dermatillomania, summer isn’t all fun and games.

“Something about warm weather coming, definitely raises my anxiety with my skin and with my Dermatillomania,” Picking Me Foundation Founder and CEO Lauren McKeaney said. “A lot of times I notice, the less I can see the less triggered I am. Winter, spring, fall when I can have long sleeves and long pants it’s helpful to not find any perceived imperfections. In summer, as the clothes dwindle down there’s more (imperfections) that I can find and get sucked into a picking episode. There’s also more evidence of past picking episodes especially with a swimsuit. It offers a full glimpse of what the disorder does to the body.”

Obviously, summertime anxiety isn’t exclusive to Dermatillomania sufferers in Chicago. In warmer climates, Dermatillomania sufferers must cope with warmer weather all year round.

It’s a body-image battle nobody wants to deal with. Don’t worry though, McKeaney offers tips to Dermatillomania sufferers on how to win that battle and put the fun back in summer.

Sunscreen is your BFF
News flash! Frying on a beach somewhere to get that perfect tan isn’t healthy.

Especially for Dermatillomania sufferers .

Wearing sunscreen armed with a high SPF (sun protection factor) will help reduce the pigment of the scarring caused by Dermatillomania. Also, Dermatillomania sufferers already have skin damage as a result of their condition, so being proactive and preventing additional damage that exposure to intense heat or sun can cause is recommended.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, everybody should wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen with this level of SPF will block 97 percent of harmful UVB rays and should be reapplied every two hours or after sweating or swimming to remain effective.

And don’t worry, sunscreen doesn’t completely prevent tanning, so you can get some of that golden glow without incurring damage to your skin.

Open Up If You Are Ready
What if Dermatillomania sufferers used summer as an opportunity to open up about their skin picking since the impact of the disorder is most visible during this season?

“Come at this from a place of self-love,” McKeaney said. “Know that your main outfit is your skin. It’s yours, you own it. Use the more exposed skin [in the summer] as a moment to really take some control back from a controlling disorder and share a bit about your story.”

When the questions come from others, own your condition and tell all or some of your story. Self-confidence breeds self-acceptance and there’s no better time than the present (which happens to be the summer if you are in the Northern Hemisphere) to begin #pickingme over picking me.

Time Management
This skill helps you in many areas of life. But it’s especially important for Dermatillomania sufferers in the summertime.

Have a plan for when you go places and have to wear short sleeves or shorts. Set aside enough time beforehand to use makeup, concealer, and/or Band-Aids on your skin to cover up areas affected by Dermatillomania as you feel is needed. Also plan time to apply and pack sunscreen, lotions, salve, etc. to protect your skin before you head out the door.

Of course, this isn’t to suggest that you must use makeup, Band-Aids, and/or concealer to cover up you skin before heading out in the summer. However, if that is what you need to do to feel more comfortable in your skin during the summer make sure to plan time to work this extra prep time into your schedule.

Prepare for the Questions
Even if there isn’t malicious intent, people’s eyes are inevitably going to wander to the areas affected by Dermatillomania, and the questions will begin to pour out.

Plan what you are going to say if there are questions and know what you are comfortable sharing based on where you are in your journey.

For more information on dermatillomania, click here.