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n4i2k0i , 19 Apr 2012

My dirty shame has a name, Dermatophagia. :/

I tore up my fingers something fierce last night and woke this morning to red, nasty, and throbbing thumbs. Completely sick of doing this to myself over and over again, I turned to my good friend, Google, in search for answers; for any attainable solutions on how to prevent or even treat this horrible compulsion I get to just gnaw, like a savage, at the skin of my fingers. This is a painful and uncontrollable urge that I've had everyday since I was a kid, since before I can even remember really. Upon my research, to my surprise this site came right up and I about cried. No joke. I didn't even know that this was a disorder or that it had a name... let alone, that there was a website with a forum to discuss it with people who are, in a sense, just like me. As my mind was being blown by this new found knowledge, I immersed myself into postings by other members who fight (and suffer from) the same battle that causes me distress, and has for so very long. In several of the forum posts, I repeatedly came across the phrase, "I thought that I was the only one," and found those words suitable and spilling from my lips. Right then, I became overwhelmed with a sense of certitude and empathy to my fellow wolf-biters, with every sentence I took in. I felt as though I were reading something that I had already written. At this moment I came to realize that I'm not just some raunchy 24-year old woman who appears to be sucking on her fingers and... "Eww she's eating her own skin! Gross" (as many people have judged and hassled me for), it's a psychological condition that I have been inhibited by and I fear, could seemingly be an impossible obstacle I may never overcome... no matter how bad I want to, no matter how hard I try. What I can't understand is that although I hate it, I find a great amount of satisfaction out of doing this awful thing to my beautiful hands. Like an artist with a painting that he torments himself to perfect, I make it my sole obligation to pick at and bite every tiny piece of skin that's even the slightest bit protruded or uneven until my fingers are raw and bleeding. It brings me contentment, and I don't know why. I'm utterly astounded by the way people think it's so simple for me to just stop one day, out of the blue. If I could, I would. I deal with the embarrassment, the shame, all the dreadful questions asked about what happened to my fingers, and the unknown reason as to why I do it and why I've never been able to stop doing it. Sometimes I do it subconsciously, totally unaware until my mom or somebody swats my hand from my face. But now that I have a spot in which I can discuss and share with others the things that, my family, my fiance, my friends could never relate to or comprehend. Here, I don't have to feel ashamed or be scolded for what has been infamously deemed my worst “habit” ever. -Niki-
1 Answer
May 04, 2012
I can relate to your story so much. I have been picking my fingers since I was a kid. My dad used to do it and somehow i picked up the dirty habit. Like you, I didn't even know this was a condition. After being embarrassed for years and answering questions about why my fingers are red or why I keep bandaids on my fingers, i found this website. Since i just found this was even a disorder, i haven't tried to find counseling. My fiance knows I do it and I guess he has pretty much accepted it. If im biting or picking my fingers, he'll tell me to stop and swat my hand but it's hard to just stop after i've been doing it for 13+ years. I tell myself i'm gonna stop and I'll go a few days without doing it but then I find myself biting and picking and the next thing I know I've picked 3 of my fingers raw and 2 are bleeding. I just want to stop!

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