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Knowing Better But Still Picking At My Skin

Don’t try this at home.

Look at a tiny black spot on your skin and say, “Hmmm, this could be melanoma. But if I pick at it and it comes off, then it probably isn’t.”

Don’t pick at it until it comes off and then breathe a sigh of relief because it is just a tiny bit of skin that has come off.

I did it last night and I’m not happy about it. There is definitely something OCD-ish about it. (I’m talking about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.)

Signs you should see the dermatologist

I’ve done this before and I did it again. I’ve written about skin picking before but it keeps coming back to me. I try not to do it but it seems like I have dug my fingernail under something before I even realize it.

This time my target was a tiny flakey area on my forehead. In my experience, flakey signals a squamous cell carcinoma. My mother had a melanoma. I have never had one. Knock wood.

I’m going to see my dermatologist soon and I should save my flakey areas for inspection rather than destroying the evidence. The “good news” is that if I leave it alone, or if I show her the rough edges, she will probably be able to determine what it is and then either freeze it or biopsy it.

Picking at skin after cryosurgery

Unwittingly, in another skin-picking episode, I did a stupid experiment on two spots that were frozen, one on each hand.

The one on my right hand had a little blister on it. I left it alone.

The one on my left hand ballooned so much I couldn’t stand it. I dug my finger into it and popped it. Sorry, this is gross, but then I peeled off the skin. It left a raw, red, crater. I applied Vaseline and a bandage so I would leave it alone. Ultimately, it healed. But guess which one healed faster? Hint: It’s the one I had left alone.

I know you shouldn’t pop a blister. I’m probably not the first or the last who will do it.

Missing post-cryosurgery instructions

In my defense, the day I got the cryosurgery, I also had a Mohs surgery. It was at a Mohs surgical center, and all the attention was on the squamous cell the doctor removed, and not on the potentially precancerous spots that a Fellow zapped.

In my opinion, he overdid it. When I went to get my stitches out and told the nursing assistant I thought the freeze was too hard, she said that is how it’s done – three times – so it won’t come back.

She asked if I had gotten instructions on how to treat it. I said they had given me a sheet for the Mohs, but not for the cryosurgery.

I should know by now because I lost track of how many times I’ve had it done, but I guess I needed a reminder. I needed to see the information sheet right in front of me. Maybe it would have helped give me more willpower.

How to care for skin after cyrotherapy

The following information is from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s website article on how to care for your skin after cryotherapy (another name for cryosurgery).

  • The treated area will become red soon after your procedure. It also may blister and swell. If this happens, don’t break open the blister.
  • You may also see clear drainage on the treated area. This is normal.
  • The treated area will heal in about 7 to 10 days. It will probably not leave a scar.
  • Starting the day after your procedure, wash the treated area gently with fragrance-free soap and water daily.
  • Leave the treated area uncovered. If you have any drainage, you can cover the area with a bandage (Band-Aid).
  • If the treated area develops a crust, you can apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on until the crust falls off.1

Hopefully next time I’ll do better, but you never know.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.