I am a 24yo female, I have probably gnawed at myself since I was 5!...I Googled "what is it called when you eat your finger skin". And came up with dermatophagia.
WolfBiterGigi is a 24 year-old female who came to the Skinpick.com forum looking for answers and for support. Dermatophagia is considered to be a symptom of dermatillomania or compulsive skin picking, Both dermatophagia and dermatillomania involve compulsions surrounding an individual’s skin. Dermatillomania sufferers will just pick at their skin and will not eat it, whereas dermatophagia sufferers will bite or ingest the picked skin and are often referred to as 'wolf-biters'. Many sufferers of dermatophagia start out with compuslive skin picking. Although not as common as skin picking, there are many who do engage in this kind of behavior. Generally the target of dermatophagia is the fingers, particularly areas around the nails and often also goes hand in hand with another body focused repetitve behavior known as onycophagia or compulive nail biting.
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The key feature of dermatillomania and dermatophagia is that the person desperately wants to stop doing it, but is unable to despite the negative impact it starts having on their functioning and the damage it causes. People who constantly bite the skin around the nails end up with discoloration, scarring and bleeding fingers. The constant exchange of bacteria between mouth and fingers, as well as having open wounds, can cause skin infections. Aside from the physical damage, it is extremely embarrassing and people who do bite their skin or eat their scabs do feel very guilty, ashamed and even disgusted with themselves for the behavior, often fearful of others finding out. As a result they suffer in silence, never seeking assistance for their condition.
As dermatophagia falls under the umbrella term BFRB, the same methods of treatment will be effective in the treatment of skin biting and eating as with dermatillomania or trichotillimania (hair pulling disorder). While cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is cited as the most effective form of therapy, there are many different techniques within this treatment framework. One method that has shown great results and is the preferred method of treatment among the experts in the fiels is the Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention method, which uses a holistic approach to CBT and is considered to have the most sustainable impact on the management of BFRB behaviors.