BY NICOLAS FERNANDES
A teaching assistant who picks the skin off her face for up to three hours a day has found confidence to stop hiding behind makeup thanks to selfies.
Sophie Langridge, 25, of Bournemouth, England, has suffered from Dermatillomania for the past decade.
The mental health disorder began with her trying to pop pimples, now causes her to tear her skin-off almost every day, leaving severe scarring and the need to hide behind foundation for years.
She also experiences extreme pain for several days after an episode and at times has felt the need to scratch her legs in addition to plucking her eyebrows and pubic hair.
In December 2017, Sophie began documenting her journey on social media with selfies and videos, soon feeling comfortable with the way she looks.
After reducing the amount of makeup worn, she realized that covering her face was causing her to pick even more.
Her posts have also garnered kind comments from strangers, who have called her “beautiful” and “brave.”
The support online has helped her to reduce the incidents to once every three days, for as little as 20 minutes opposed to her previous three-hours.
Sophie said: “I started posting pictures without makeup online and it really helped me come to terms with my face as it is.
“I used to pile the makeup on, whereas now, I really don’t care.
“I realized that the makeup was making me more aware of my imperfections. Makeup is supposed to look good, but it just doesn’t fix my issue. My needs are beyond makeup.
“I’ve gotten some really encouraging comments on my posts, which is really lovely.
“At the moment, it tends to occur every three days. I’m slowly going longer between episodes. I have gone two weeks before, but those victories don’t last forever.
“I started picking at my skin when I was going through puberty and had some light acne.
“I get really sore for days because of all the self-inflicted wounds.”
While the cause of the condition is unknown, the teaching assistant also suffers from anxiety and depression and believes it was triggered by her insecurities and constant worry about her appearance.
For most of her teen years, her parents never even saw what she looked like without makeup.
Sophie said: “I’ve been incredibly insecure since primary school, but it started to get even worse as I entered my teens.
“I always slathered my spots in makeup. For years, I wore makeup almost the entire day. Nobody even knew what my natural skin looked like.”
While it started with her feeling self-conscious about her appearance, Sophie finds herself damanging her skin for a number of reasons these days.
She is currently in a relationship, which she says makes her feel even more insecure and can give her more of an urge to touch her face.
Sophie said: “I do it for multiple reasons — sometimes it’s because of stress and other times it’s out of boredom. Basically, if you give me a mirror, I’ll pick.
“It always gets worse when I’m in a relationship, which highlights my insecurities.”
But her boyfriend Mike, 24, is also good at preventing her from having occurrences.
He has even rewarded her with special dates when she has gone a long time without picking.
Sophie said: “I rarely do it at home anymore, as I live with my boyfriend and he watches out for me.
“Mike takes me out for meals to reward me for going long periods of time without having an episode.
“He knows that Dermatillomania will be a part of me forever, but also that it can be controlled.”
The teaching assistant has spent thousands of dollars on scar removal treatments in the past.
While she hopes to get more marks removed, Sophie wants to take better control of her condition first.
She said: “I have spent thousands of dollars on removing scars just so that I can create more. I want to get more removed, but I need to better control the picking first.”