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wolfbiteranon , 08 Aug 2011

I finally cured my Dermatophagia (I think)

I have been a "wolf biter" for the past 21 years and after reading an article on this forum I believe I have finally cured my dermatophagia. I will explain how I did it but first let me give you a background of how bad it was. Firstly, I have had this disorder for my entire life, for as long as I can remember I have had a severe oral fixation. When I was very young (maybe 5 or 6) I used to literally chew the wood off of my bedpost like a beaver. A consequence of this action was terrible buck beaver-like teeth, which fortunately was fixed after 2 years of braces. I also used to chew the collar off my shirts when I was little, virtually ruining them, you can image how mad my parents were having to buy me new shirts all the time because I would literally eat them. Next, I would chew the inside of my lip, and the nails and skin on my fingers almost to the bone. Drawing blood was a daily occurrence and my fingers were often extremely sore, but for some reason I could not stop doing it. I tried many of the bitter tasting nail polish but to no avail. The habit was so bad that I would suffer through the nasty taste in order to bite my fingers until they bled. I was soon completely used to the bitter taste and it didn't bother me. Sometimes I would stop biting my nails for a week, but I always made the mistake of continuing to bite the skin on my fingers, so my nails would start to get long but I would still have fingers that looked like they have been chewed by a dog. Needless to say this was extremely embarrassing considering I would get blood on the keyboard at work that numerous people used. I am happy to announce however that I am on about day 10 of not biting whatsoever and even though the cravings to bite are intense, they are getting better each day. Its a weird feeling having hands that actually look normal (besides the slight discoloration of some parts from 21 years of extreme wolf biting). I have also stopped biting the inside of my lip. So how did I do it? Cold Turkey... it is the ONLY way. I am a strong believer that in order to quit an addictive habit you must do it cold turkey (unless its dangerous such as the case with alcohol). This is because any tiny taste of the habit throws you into a spiral. I quit smoking and chewing tobacco once and for all cold turkey after many failed attempts to ween myself off of it. I would have one cigarette and promise myself I wouldn't have another for, lets say, another 3 hours. In those 3 hours I would smoke about 5 more. I also tried to stop biting my nails in a similar fashion.. only biting the nails that were uneven to make them look better... After biting one nail it was literally a matter of two minutes before several of my fingers were bleeding and sore. So how do you quit biting cold turkey? Most of you are probably saying you do it subconsciously, not even realizing you are doing it and that's exactly how I was. It is hard to stop if your subconscious mind wont let you. I am not a psychologist nor do I claim to be, but after doing my own extensive research I believe that all wolf biters share a similar way of thinking. We have minds that tend to wonder more than normal people, maybe people characterize as as "spacey." We can often forget what we are doing or things people normally don't forget. We constantly have to double check stuff because our brain is usually always on autopilot. Does that sound like you? I don't think this is a disorder but instead a different style of thinking. I believe this way of thinking actually suggests high intelligence as the brain is always analyzing events and problems of the day, regardless of if we want to or not. Many wolf biters are diagnosed with OCD or ADHD and this way of thinking comes with those disorders. Let me stress here, and this is my OWN opinion, that ADHD and OCD are only disorders because our society labels them as such. The great ancient philosophers shared this disorder, but because we live in such a fast paced society where constant pondering is discouraged, we have a slight disadvantage. This is why our subconscious takes over and automatic habits such as nail biting are hard to stop. So this still doesn't answer the question how to quit nail biting with this mindset, and the answer is to stop that mindset. Not forever, but until your brain gets used to the fact that the nail biting habit is gone. Once you stop for an extensive period of time, you will not bite even when on autopilot. I believe I am very close to being there and breaking the habit forever. This is how to do it: give you full 100% attention to everything you are doing and break out of daydreams. Daydreams are your enemy. When you are walking down the street think about your walking motion and always keep a conscious check on were your hands are (NOT IN YOUR MOUTH). Don't bite ANYTHING, not your inside bottom lip, not the skin around your fingers, NOTHING. I cannot stress this enough because any little taste of the habit before it is fully cured will throw you into a downward spiral. Also, DO NOT pick at your nails or skin. This whole strategy is difficult and will be extremely uncomfortable so it is necessary to say you must be 100% committed. You WILL have almost irresistible feelings to bite, WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT GIVE IN. I PROMISE it will get easier with time and the cravings come and go throughout the day. ANY biting is RELAPSING, keep that in mind. So to summarize this method, force yourself to pay attention to EVERYTHING you do, all day long, at least until the habit is gone (you will also realize you forget to do important things less).
32 Answers
August 10, 2011
I really like the whole idea. I think one of the best ways to quit is cold turkey, but obviously quite difficult. And I totally agree with you when you say day dreams are your enemy! Its really important to stay in the present and focus on the physical. Let me know how you go please!
August 10, 2011

In reply to by lea14

Still going pretty strong, I bought some nail hardener that is suppose to make your nails grow faster and be healthier. I am trying my best to make them as healthy as possible to make up for the 20 years of abuse they have been put through. The only downside is that the nail polish is glossy.. not very desirable for a 21 year old male, but hey whatever works. I will definitely keep this thread updated.
August 10, 2011
I am finding it SO difficult to stop, it's horrible :( I wish I could be a strong as you!
August 10, 2011

In reply to by marilynmansonFAN

It is extremely difficult to do, especially if you have been doing it your entire life.. it is second nature. Don't be discouraged though, I have failed MANY times before this recent success, and who knows for sure, I am only on about day 11, but the crave to bite is getting very subtle, and I am confident that I will never bite again if I can make it to a month Just hang in there and concentrate, don't dray dream because your brain WILL subconsciously make you do it.
August 12, 2011

In reply to by wolfbiteranon

That's the thing, I've been doing it since... Well, since I can remember! And I've put plaster on my fingers to ty and stop and I've even failed at that. The longest time I've not picked is about... 25 mins.. I even cry about it sometimes.. :/
September 03, 2011
I been biting my poor little fingers since the third grade, i have some good days where im proud of myself for not biting but some days i cant help myself and the nerves kick in and i bite. Its gotten to the point where i no longer have a finger print -__- i went from several fingers to only now my thumb... Im fed up of hiding my fingers or having to explain why they look like that because people dont understand.. Im glad im not the only one here. I hope this works. Im tired of sore & bloody fingers :-(
March 18, 2012
I too want to stop but am just having a chew before I do. My thumb is a bloody mess! I got to this site after reading about it on Wikipedia and some of the stuff there is helpful. I realise that I have the nose-picking one as well - no septum left and that it may be related to my older sister's Trichollomania and my younger two siblings significant substance abuse of all kinds. I have tried everything so will try this and post to let you know, it's true I daydream a lot but also focus on the negative as I have had lots of abuse in my life one of which was being ignored which ties in with thinking differently to the rest of my family. I have been labelled over sensitive, pathetic but these days it's more likely to be angel - still annoying as I don't seem to be 'normal'? Anyway strong urge to pick just now- extremely difficult as I am menopausal which means very dry skin. when I nose pick it is to make it bleed but this often gives me bad headaches. Environmentally it may be connected to never ever having any of my needs met so that now - @ over 50- I no longer know how to get them met at all. I don't shout and scream as my siblings/son used to do ( really want to pick right now!) I have spent my life being invisible prided myself on it so that I wasn't ever a problem but now it's at a stage that when I want to be noticed then it feels inside my head like the effort is similar to screaming and only then am I noticed at all. So it's no wonder I'm in a mess I have all the usual needs suppressed over at least 35yrs. and inside so so desperate whilst the accepted behaviour outside plus my current circumstances have me facing up to the reality that they will never be met so it's hardly suprising I'm a wolf biter and nose picker. Yet I will try to stop and writing all of this has been a distraction up to a point.
December 30, 2012
Wow, that first post explained me to a 'T'....I could not understand why I kept picking even though I would tell myself to stop. I knew I had some OCD but it makes so much sense in contrast to that post. I am glad there are people out there who understand. I have chewed at my nails, cheek inside my mouth and have even started picking at my feet which sucks because I have two jobs and I am on my feet all day long! They hurt so bad at the end of the night. I am going to keep these posts in mind and try to stop---I want to so bad. I would love to be able to just go get a pedicure and manicure without feeling embarassed! Some day....I hope
January 07, 2013
I am exactly like this in every way. I space out all the time; I basically spend the majority of my time in my head, thinking about nothing in particular, just stuff. I bite the skin on my fingers without even knowing it. I don't like the way my fingers look after and it really embarrasses me. I've tried numerous times to stop but I never can. The one thing I've found that sort of helps is replacing that fingering biting habit with another habit that is not a bad one. In my case it's chewing a piece of gum. This is totally harmless, but if there's anytime when I'm not chewing a piece of gum, it's over for me, back to biting.
January 22, 2013
It all started when I was a small boy. I use to chew on the collar of my shits and soon after I started to bite on the callus's on my hand. Next thing you know I was chewing skin off my fingers and it hurt very bad and I always question my self why I did it. Every time I told my self to stop it got worse and more painful. I am now 18 and yes I too feel like I am on an autopilot. Most of my day consists of me daydreaming about how the world should become a better place. I focus a lot on good positive things and I try to help people and the Earth as much as I can. I found that I bite mostly when I'm nerved about something or stressed and even scared. Every time I'm trying to focus on doing something I start biting and I feel like its a first priority and I cant stop. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one with thoughts that are far out there. When I explain them to some people they think I'm weird or they say "you know to much" and give me a smirk and all I'm doing is trying to help. I'm glad to know there are more like me and getting over wolf biting is gonna be a challenge. I stopped smoking and chewing, I cant even take a drink of alcohol like I use to when I was young and crazy because anymore it all makes me sick so coffee and fresh air are just fine for me. Biting just gets in the way of everything I do and I don't know what to do so hopefully by reading all y'all posts can give me a little insight on finding a way to stop once and for all. It's just like a bad war that wont end.
October 05, 2013
I have been biting the skin on my hands (calluses) since I was a teen. Usually my knuckles, sides of fingers next to the nails, calluses on the inside on my hand, etc. Its varied in intensity and I have found it is also self-reinforcing (biting causes calluses, rough bitten calluses cause me to bite). Working at a computer keyboard is a trigger, especially when deep in thought or under deadline pressure. In the last year or so I have found something that has really improved the condition of my hands. What I do is regularly sand my calluses with 220 grit wet/dry sandpaper - under warm water. It works best when your skin is wet and you can see the rough spots. I do it roughly twice a week. Don't overdo it, just a bit at a time focusing on the rough spots with a 1x3 in piece of sandpaper. I've tried rough/finer grits and found this is the best. 220 leaves your hands very soft and also reduces the calluses. Rougher causes too much damage and finer doesn't really work. After this I dry my hands completely and then use Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion right after. This stuff is the best I have found and stays on the skin well. I continue to use Aveeno a couple times a day every day, including right before bed. This approach has significantly reduced my desire to bite, since it gets rid of my bit calluses that trigger more biting. Also, my hands feel soft and presentable again. Helps hands heal faster too. Also, avoid cold hands in the winter since I think it makes them heal slower. I thought I would post this, since it helped me, and probably would work well in combination with any other method, including cold turkey.
December 28, 2013
Hi I m dhiraj & I m too crazy about eating my skin on my fingers it started all the way when I was 14. Till now I m not able to control my girl friend left me because of this weird the way cold turkey?
January 06, 2014
cold turkey is a good strategy.* i actually started to not pick my feet for two days and after reading your post, i have an added burst of faith to not allow my hands to wander down there to feel if there is any loose skin to peel off; i'm salivating as i'm typing this. thx for the inspirational post because saving my feet, fingers and lips is a good thing. *i was able to quit smoking this way but every once in long awhile, i relapse getting a cig from my husband so i realize this is not necessarily the end all, be all (initially, perhaps) but i will endeavor to keep trying
February 21, 2014
I also think I've cured my dermatophagia doing exactly what you've done. I went through many things you said like bleeding over keyboards and pages of books, biting ends of pens, pencils and rubbers, going to the dentist's to remove wood chips from my teeth and gums, etc... and nothing could make me stop either. Then, I've decided to focus on stoping this bad habit and not allowing my fingers to go to my mouth: I've expended much energy in it, but it's paid off. The hardest stage happened when skin was healing and I wished a lot to pick it; it was solved by using moisturizing creams which "hid the dry skin" and decreased my will to pick it. Today, getting my fingers intact again and not having to hide them is priceless. I think Cold turkey is the best way out for this condition: never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today. It'll work. -- Very important P.S.: watching "Trichster 6 month Trailer" ( I remembered that "Yes, you must accept who you are." It got easier for me to stop skin picking when I fully accepted my sexuality: dermatophagia was surely a result of this rejection.
March 17, 2014
Dude, I was spacing out and thinking of other things while simultaenouly reading your article, and only snapped back into it at the words "give you full 100% attention to everything you are doing and break out of daydreams". I thought that was kinda funny.
May 27, 2014
I have tried this method numerous times over the years. I have quit drinking, using drugs and smoking using this method (as well as the 12 steps) but, for some bizarre reason that I cannot figure out, I cannot kick this horrid habit. My nail beds are permanently scarred, my finger tips calloused from healing over and over again. I have days or certain times of the day that the urge to touch, chew or destroy my nails (and skin surrounding my nails) is so overwhelming, that nothing I do or think will stop me. On the other end of that, I also have days that I do not have the urge to touch my hands at all (although those days are far and few between and getting shorter in duration). I have sat and cried while chewing my nails, for my intellect will "scream" at me to just stop it, but I simply cannot stop. I don't know what to do anymore. I am glad to find a group of people or even one or two that can relate to this and appreciate any postings that I come across.... Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope with me. I'm happy to hear some get better. Maybe one day I will also..thanks again :) Nancy
August 17, 2014
I finally found a "place" where I can be completely honest about my nail biting habits. I not only bite the skin around my fingers but I also peeled the skin around my toes. My close ones, don't understand why I do it (and neither do I) but I just do it. After reading the "Cold Turkey" I realized that yes, I am a daydreamer, spacey and autopilot. When I never expected I already have my fingers in my mouth and I'm biting the skin or my toes. I could be watching TV, reading, in front of a computer or thinking about something. Sometimes, I look at my nails and find where I can bite them or peel off the skin. Is a very embarrassing, because nobody understand and I can dress nice and look perfect but my nails says the opposite. I will start the "Cold Turkey" today and I will post my progress. I WANT TO STOP!!!
July 30, 2015

I've always bitten my fingers, the inside of my cheeks and my lips. Trouble is, when I grow my nails the slightest I then start picking at my top lip. Of course they all bleed and are scarred. When I was young/ in primary school & about 6 years old I picked a massive chunk out of the centre of my top lip and I still do it now. It's strange how you can't control it and how you actually crave it as well. I crave chocolate but I can stop myself but I can't stop biting and picking. Nothing puts me off, I have tried numerous polishes and lotions. Tried acrylic and gel nails, even bought my own kits. A few months ago I was so fed up of this. I have previously googled it when I was younger and perhaps I didn't use the correct words and over complicated it by thinking I was the only person who does it in the world. However I recently googled that I literally can't stop biting my fingers and came across Dermatophagia. I was and am so happy! People tend to ask or say what's wrong with my fingers and it is so embarrassing. Especially being a girl. I have gone through school with plasters on every finger because they were so sore, when I go swimming which is now on a regular basis my skin swells up disgustingly. Basically it's a disgusting habit I want to stop as I could go on forever. After reading this I am going to STOP doing it and hopefully on my 20th I will have perfect hands for my birthday. I can then add some new Sensationail gels to my bday list and put my effort into making them look better than worse. And by the way this kit from boots does help, goes in the sale after xmas but I tend to peel the gel off sometimes, better than peeling your skin off though. X

April 28, 2016

I have this habit of picking skin close to the nails since childhood. Also I used to bite the nails. I am at a age of 28 now and have been doing this since I remember my childhood. At this moment what I am able to do is stop the nail biting in any toughest of the conditions. But the skin picking hasn't. I used to cut my nails in every 5-6 days for around 1-2 months so that there is no scope to bite. This is how I conquered Nail Biting. I am still struggling with the skin biting near the fingers. While reading the whole article and comments, About more than 20 times I tried to harm the skin but eventually stopped myself. So there is a inner self which calls from beneath to not to harm the skin but I was able to stop today, but some times it is unstoppable. I am not able to find a solution to the same as of now. I tried many things, one of them was like applying 2-3 band-aids on each finger but I used to bite them off completely. Any other suggestions to stop this ??

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