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Asterix , 01 May 2011

Newbie post

Hello everyone, Just like many of the posts that I have read, I am also surprised (but pleased) that a site like this one exists. I have been biting my nails and picking my skin for as long as I can remember, and despite many attempts, I have never been able to stop (at least not for a significant period of time). I am now 41 and the problem continues, and even worsens. I have the feeling that the people around me had come to accept it. Growing up, my parents, despite a few comments here and then, never really made a big deal out of it. My ex-wife didn't apparently even see it as a problem. But now I am seeing that my 11-year old son is really bothered by this habit and makes comments about it. Sometimes he will even pull the fingers out of my mouth. Then when I pick my feet my 8-year old daughter jumps in and tells me to stop. The woman I love is also raising the problem and is the first one who ever told me that this was a form of aggression myself, I never thought about it in that way but I guess that it makes sense. The nail biting (onychophagia) affects all 10 fingers and all 10 toes (yes I guess that I am flexible enough to do this..). Then there is also dermatophagia (sking biting/eating) and dermatillomania (skin picking). This around each finger, sometimes as far as the first distal interphalangeal of the index fingers with quite painful and unaesthetic/embarrassing results (up to and including bleeding). I also do this on my feet: around each toe, the heel, and the ball of the foot. My heels are sometimes in a such a horrible condition that it is really painful to walk. They bleed, stain my socks, or if I walk barefoot in the house, leave blood spots everywhere. I push this as far as taking a blade (knife or anything sharp) to my heels to cut slivers of epidermis that I subsequently chew on and swallow. At this point I am really concerned about my conditions. Not only because of the unaesthetic results but also because of the risks of infection and the potential underlying psychological causes of this problem. I think that this is related to anxiety. Years ago I was treated for panick attacks and general anxiety disorders and I am still very prone to those, however nail biting/skin picking never came up during my therapy. I am seeing a therapist again and will be bringing up this problem in our next session. Thanks.

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