The below is a forum entry made by one of our community members. If you want to know more about your condition, we suggest you read the following article written by a mental health professional on
How to Stop Skin Picking

LondonJason , 07 Apr 2009

I have finally broken my Dermatophagia / skin biting habit after 37 years. A personal story, not an advert

Hi all I am 37 and have just experienced a massive breakthrough in my life-long battle with Dermatophagia / Compulsive Skin Biting. I know it is highly suspicious when a new member joins a forum and announces a miracle cure, so let me say this up front: 1) I have "cured" my Dermatophagia by accident as a result of medically-prescribed meditation from the British (NHS) health system, which I am receiving for my tinnitus. There is nothing to buy as part of this "cure". This is a purely personal account. 2) I have an extensive history of posting on medical forums such as,, where you can find me under the user name LondonJason and again using the name LondonJason Here's my story: I am 37 and up until two weeks ago I have battled with chronic Dermatophagia / compulsive skin biting for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I had what today would be recognized as a mix of minor OCD issues, but grew out of these like most adults. My Dermatophagia stayed with me however. It has been an acute and chronic condition. I simply could not stop myself biting away the skin on every finger until I was bleeding. Like most of you on this board I have been in a permanent cycle of having bloody fingers that were painful, disgusting and shameful. I would bite away the skin as both a conscious (compulsive) and unconscious act. I have tried for years to stop this, including: Hypnotherapy: I enjoyed a few days break but still had massive compulsive tendencies EFT (the tapping thing): ditto above Paint skin with that horrid tasting stuff: zero benefit The only thing that worked was to bind up all my fingers really tight with micropore tape. Obviously this is nothing more than a short-term measure when my fingers were in a real state. The "cure" for me I put the word cure in quotation marks as I know that: 1) OCDs are massively complex and highly personal so my "cure" may not work for anybody else at all 2) I am only two weeks free of Dermatophagia, but I can tell you kow I am looking at my fingers and I feel completely disassociated from them. I have no desire to bite, even though I can see tiny bits of skin that previously I would have to "perfect" by ripping them away. Two weeks ago I attended a hearing therapy clinic at the Royal National ENT hospital on Gray's Inn Road. I have had tinnitus for 9 months following a Scuba diving incident. I was expecting to receive standard tinnitus retraining therapy, but instead was told that the hospital was pioneering the use of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. This has been used to treat patients (primarily in the US) who suffer from chronic pain or depression. The task I was set by my hearing therapist was to sit cross-legged in a dark room, close my eyes and bring all of my attention to my breathing. Effectively meditation. Obviously I was very surprised this is now being prescribed as mainstream medical treatment within the NHS, but I was very open-minded. The first thing you notice when you sit on your own and listen to your thoughts is how much rubbish is going on in your head (I suspect this is higher for people with OCD traits ?). In each session I had to gently work though bringng all of my attention on my breathing and become incredibly aware of my body in the present state. I didn't notice I had stopped biting straight away. The mindfulness meditation which I now do for up to 40 minutes a day is so relaxing that my whole persona felt different. It was about the 3 rd day that I realized that I was no longer biting. As well as meditation, the MBCT approach requires you to be 'mindful' and to keep you mind in the "present moment" as much as possible during the day and to observer your thoughts in a non-judgemental way. Each time, you bring your mind back to the present moment. One of the big breakthroughs I had this weekend was...I had forgotten to do my meditation that day (I'd been out drinking with friends) and I caught myself biting my fingers. At that moment I observed that my mind was racing massively around, thinking/worrying of events both in the past and future. The only thing I wasn't doing was being present in the 'current' moment. My therapist had showed me the techniques of how to get back into the present moment and the compulsion faded very quickly. After 2 more days of meditation I am back again feeling no desire whatsoever to bite. I'm going to post a few links for those that are interested. My Dermatophagia was not just a habit. It was a full-blown compulsion and I am 100% convinced that I have cured it for me. I am very happy to speak more or answer questions if people are interested. Just one final point, please be assured this is completely secular, the approach used has no religious elements and can be practiced by those of any faith or no faith at all. Wiki: Some medical research on its use in suicide risks: There are free guided meditations you can find on the iTunes store. Also if people are interested I can post a scan of the documentation and instructions that I have been given by the Royal National Hospital. I really hope that my breakthrough can help at least one other person. If any doctors / psyc's read this board, I would also be happy to share my account with them. Best wishes Jason Contains background on MBCT from its creators in the US. It has a commercial section where you can buy books/CDs but frankly there is so much for free to get started with
38 Answers
May 08, 2009
Hi there It's over a month and I am still not compulsively biting my cuticles. This has been the longest period of time ever that I have not been biting and I have absolutely no urge to do this. I continue with 2 x 20 mins meditation every day. Last week I had two days off (it was my birthday and I was out partying) and I instantly started biting at my cuticles until they bled. However, I started back on my meditation again and it instantly stopped. Just to confirm I have tried every other technique in the book with no success. Also please note this is a completely free technique, there is nothing to buy or any course to follow and it has been 100% effective for me. I really do hope you'll try it out. It has simply changed my life, but it does require lots of work each day. Good luck - Jason
October 19, 2009

In reply to by LondonJason

Hey Jason, Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for posting this. I'm 14 and I've had what I now have found out to be Dermatophagia for as long as I can remember. I too have tried absolutely everything and nothing has worked. I have to wear plasters to hide my fingers and mostly just keep them in my pockets. I don't socialize much and feel nervous shaking people's hands. I do magic and it’s horrible because sometimes I perform in a close up setting and my fingers look disgusting. It has taken over my life. I will try MBCT everyday now; I just hope it will be successful. It almost makes me quite emotional thinking that it all could stop. Thank you so, very much. Jesse Brooks, South Africa P.S Please could you send me the directions?
May 18, 2011

In reply to by LondonJason

Hey Jason. I'm a certified yoga and meditation teacher who specializes in recovery and habitual re-patterning. I'm excited to speak further with you and to have you try a special habituation meditation in addition to your meditation that will take you less than half the time you are currently using, and perhaps will give you even better - more lasting - results. I also am not advertising anything, except to share hat I may have a more efficient method than yours, and want to share it with you since you are already dedicated to this path of treatment. This treatment has worked for me at only 5-7 minutes per day, enabling me to stop picking after 25 years. That being said, more meditation is always better! :) And I can advise you, and others since I am technically certified to share and teach these meditations. - Look for my post in a few days... Truly Yours, Fateh
October 17, 2012

In reply to by LondonJason

thank you so fucking much LondonJason for this forum post! your inspiration to try meditation helped me so much to finally stop skin picking and biting at my finger tips after about 7 - 8 years of embarrassment I think. :-)))))) also your hint to being "mindful" was the key to success for me. I definitely owe you a big beer! a few weeks ago i found out by googling a bit that i'm not the only one doing this weird thing and that there even is a name for it: Dermatophagia. maybe this knowledge helped and was the first step to manage this disorder for myself. I'm so glad that I found your post here! I first started being a bit more mindful than before and took better care of myself by trying to avoid stress, avoiding multi-tasking (which is known to be bad for a human brain) in my office job and also to reduce coffee a bit, which seems to cause inner trepidation. but the key thing that I believe helped get over this was autogenic training. I've ripped two audio files from youtube and burnt them on CD. one file has a length of about 11mins and the other one about 22mins. I use the first one every morning before leaving my house and the longer version every night before I go to bed. after doing this I'm relaxed, focused and more placed in my middle. I also use a rich lotion soothing and nourishing the skin. it's strange but since the first time I tried this I didn't pick and bite my fingers anymore for a whole week! the first week without dermatophagia for 7 -8 years!! well, after a week or so I had a longer bath and the upper layer of the skin on my finger tips peeled off by itself and I backslid for a moment and picked and bit, the temptation was too big. but after removing all horny skin with a nail clipper and using a good lotion it got better again instantly and I haven't been picking and biting for another couple of days now. so I'm spending half an hour each day lying on my back and doing autogenic training which is a very good price for a better living without embarrassment anymore and I anyway feel good after each session because I'm more "mindful" and centered. and it doesn't cost a cent!! ;-) right now I have no desire whatsoever to pick or bite skin from my fingers which I could have never imagined a few weeks ago. I can't tell if I'm over it for good now but I can tell that the skin on my fingers looks better than ever before in the past 8 years and I feel that I'm not hiding my hands anymore at meetings or dinners which is a great new feeling for me! I also cannot tell if this measure helps for everyone, I guess it always depends on the cause why someone is picking and biting and obviously in my case the reason must have been related to some nervousness, unease or inner disquiteness. yet, if someone reads this, gives it a try and it works for him / her I'm very glad that I could share this experience and help somebody. I still can't believe that I managed to handle this so easily after having tried so many other things in the past in vein rendering me desperate. so, I wish you all good luck for the future, take care and be mindful! :-) cheers, patrick
May 23, 2009
Thank you so much for posting. I have a 12 year old daughter who compulsively nail bites and recently (with advent of acne) started face picking. I also have a sister who permanently scarred her skin as a result. I don't want this for my daughter. I also don't want her on medication (SSRIs) if there's an alternative. We will try meditation. I'll let you know if it works. I would also love it if you would scan the directions you received. I'm feeling over MY head, much less my daughter's, and would love all the help I can get. Sra
October 18, 2009
Hey Jason, Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for posting this. I'm 14 and I've had what I now have found out to be Dermatophagia for as long as I can remember. I too have tried absolutely everything and nothing has worked. I have to wear plasters to hide my fingers and mostly just keep them in my pockets. I don't socialize much and feel nervous shaking people's hands. I do magic and it’s horrible because sometimes I perform in a close up setting and my fingers look disgusting. It has taken over my life. I will try MBCT everyday now; I just hope it will be successful. It almost makes me quite emotional thinking that it all could stop. Thank you so, very much. Jesse Brooks, South Africa P.S Please could you send me the directions?
October 19, 2009
Wow that's great Jason, I've just started seeing a therapist for my skin picking / itching but it's not really doing any good so if you could email me the meditation guide it could come in handy?
December 14, 2009
I am desperate. Please, please, please e-mail me the instructions that you were given by the RNH. I've been struggling with this as long as I can remember and desperately need some help.
May 18, 2010
Please send me more information, I'm looking at bloody nubs as we speak. thank you for posting! I'll be sharing this with my mother who also bites her skin.
May 21, 2010
Hi Jason, Excellent post,very happy you have found something that is working for you and I hope it continues.Im 39,I have BDD and skin pick mainly face,arms and back,which has gone on since teen years,far too long.I often find doing Yoga helps me through days,bringing myself back into the 'present moment' etc,so I was very intrigued with all what you wrote.I got onto researching MBCT,ive also downloaded the meditations from iTunes(thanks for that)I would be extremely grateful if you could post the scan of the documentation and instructions that you were given by the Royal National Hospital.I also have noted down the address of this hospital,as my partner and I will soon be moving back to the uk and will maybe located in London.My partner has terrible sinus problems. Regards Jo
May 27, 2010
Hi LondonJason: I just read your story for your 'cure'. I hope its still working for you, and if nothing else, youre getting some constructive 'me' time with your meditations. Id love a copy of the docs & instructions from RNH. Im about the same age as you, and I can see kinda how this method may work; I recently completed a Person-centred Psychotherapy Diploma, and my similar OCD almost faded into non exsistence. I suspect this was due to the whole 'sitting with my feelings' in a non judgemental way (which is a person centred approach too). However, since i completed the course, and have had a break from this self reflection, my OCD had flared almost beyond control. Ive been told that mostly these compulsive behaviours are a way of avoiding sitting with ones inner being (!?) as its too uncomfortable or just scary to be faced with doing so alone, for fear of what may lurk there. My mail is, and please post again to let us know how youre getting along...
February 07, 2011
Thank you. My name is Omar (23 years old) and i finally took the courage to research my finger biteing issue. I have dermatophagia since i was little. My mother had the same problem her whole life until she started getting her nails done she for some reason stopped. I am a male and would feel wierd haveing my nails done so plan A is not good. So I have ignored it believing that someday it would go away but it just got worse. Please send me an email of the steps you took in detail so I can hope one day i have normal looking fingers. Again Thank you so much..
February 23, 2011
Hi Jason, congratulation on your success, be great if you could give an up date to let us all know how you are doing. I am a compulsive skin picker and I benefit from yoga and can relate to the mindful approach. Can you please email me the information. Much appreciated.
james k
March 07, 2011
Congrats on your success - Please could you send any relevant information to Thanks in advance for your help
March 12, 2011
Please, Please send me what you did to Stop. I really need to know what you have discovered.I realize it might not work for me but you sound like whatever you did was so encouraging.I can be reached at Thanks so much.
May 01, 2011
Jason, I am so glad to know your story. Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing. It is almost a relief that this can be treated. I thought there was no way to get rid of it. I am fed up with my skin biting habit. I have been doing it as long as I can remember - and I’m 27 now. I just want to get rid of this. Also, I have been recently diagnosed with depression, anxiety and possible ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). My psychiatrist and psychologist have suggested me to take prescribed medications and other treatments that I cannot afford. Frankly, I don't want to depend on such medications for the rest of my life. I am hopeful that meditation, that you have indicated, will also be able to help my depression, anxiety and concentration, and I will be saved from taking medicines that have horrible side-effects. Can you please send me the instructions on I will be really grateful to you. Thank you so much. Regards, Sam.
May 18, 2011

In reply to by samkan

Why medicate, when you can meditate? Email me, or check my posts coming up in a few days on the forums about a free medical meditation for OCD and habituation which I will be sharing soon... - Truly Yours, Fateh -
May 17, 2011
Hi Jason I am really interested in looking at the techniques you used if you could please send me a copy of the documents and instructions you were given to I have picked the skin all over my body for at least 13 years, and I have spent the last year really working on myself and I have had a gradual but significant improvement. I've not been to any doctors, but I've found for me using E45 cream helps to make my skin smooth and less pickable, but as soon as I stop using it I start to pick again. I think it's interesting how you have found a mental technique to help you, and yet if you stop practising it, you relapse almost immediately. I hope you continue to improve. Maxine.

Start your journey with SkinPick

Take control of your life and find freedom from skin picking through professional therapy and evidence-based behavioral techniques.

Start Now