Dermatophagia :Biting Finger Skin

Dermatophagia is a habit of starting to chew the pen and eat the fingernail. This habit then continues to gnaw your fingers, especially the skin around your nails. In this article you can find out what you need to know about dermatophagia, a serious psychological problem.

Do you gnaw your fingers, especially the skin around your nails?
While eating your skin, your flesh is bleeding but you can’t stop yourself?
You know this is a bad obsession, but you still can’t stop yourself?

If yes, look at the photos below.

If your fingers are like this, you probably have a psychological problem called dermatophagia.


Many people with dermatophagia are don’t do it knowingly

It is a disease that occurs in adults by biting, tearing off the skin around the fingers and nails, and even in the form of eating.

Many people with dermatophagia don’t do it knowingly. These people don’t realize they’re starting to eat your finger skin. Even if they realize, they do not try to prevent this behavior.

Although it is a very common disease in the society, it is a very rare subject in the medical literature.
People who do this often don’t talk about this problem, they rarely go to the doctor.

dermatophagia :biting finger skin 2

At the same time, as it almost never causes a health problem, it almost never needs to be treated. However, wounds around the hand with open wounds can cause a person to be hospitalized.

Michael Scott Jr., father-son psychosomatic dermatologist. and Michael Scott III, in 1997, wrote in the scientific journal Cutis:

Dermatophagia is not as rare as some reports claim. However, it is hardly mentioned in textbooks. Specifically, this disorder is defined as a neurotic and obsessive habit of causing a person to break their limbs with their own teeth.

dermatophagia :biting finger skin 3

Why Do People Bite Finger Skin?

It is not yet known exactly why but it can be treated. Although it’s related to stress and anxiety, research shows that such behavior is not always a response to stress or anxiety. In some investigations, it was revealed that there is no need for stress or anxiety in order to see this biting behavior. On the other hand, stress and anxiety increase the likelihood and frequency of this behavior.

Dermatophagia means ‘skin eater’ in Latin.

Similarly, this condition has been associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, such claims are not strong and sufficient. For the first time in 2013, this disorder coexisted with other “pathological care issues” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness (DSM).

However, not everyone agrees that this is related to the OCD. A psychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco. Carol Mathews says:

The obsessions seen in the OCD are really unwanted obsessions. However, the individual feels good when eating nails pathologically. It feels really good. She feels good when she gets rid of her nail or crooked skin. This is a strange sense of reward; but ultimately a reward. Behaviors such as hair pulling, skin eating, nail biting should not be seen as a disorder unless they affect daily life and require certain clinical urgency.



J. Koebler. People Who Chew On Their Own Skin Have A Disorder Called Dermatophagia.

Last Updated on March 15, 2021 by Marilyn Walker

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I am studying in Florida about Dialectic Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I'm doing research on Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), Cognitive psychology, Metacognitive Therapy.

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Comments (8)

Popular Comments
  1. 1 year ago

    Thank you! I’m reading your link now and requested the facebook group

  2. 1 year ago

    Hello there; I hope your daughter will recover soon.
    I will post the related behavior training tools here. However, my advice will be to research emdr therapy first.

    I also wish you to become a member of our facebook group.

  1. 1 year ago

    My daughter has had this problem since age 3. She is now 13. It hasn’t stopped and I am ready for another technique/treatment for her to retrain her habit.

    • 1 year ago

      Hello there; I hope your daughter will recover soon.
      I will post the related behavior training tools here. However, my advice will be to research emdr therapy first.

      I also wish you to become a member of our facebook group.

  2. I have this problem never knew others did. I’m now 40 and my right hand is offten a mess. I try wearing gloves to prevent me from doing this and trying very hard to stop because of injury and infections especially with covid.

  3. The images on this article are extremely triggering. I could not read the text because of how graphic they were. I would encourage you all to tone it down a little bit.

    thank you

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