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Dermatillomania (skin picking disorder)

alice.alice.alice , 07 Nov 2009

picking and eating skin from feet and fingers... what is this?

first off, I want to say how happy and amazed i am to find that there are other people out there with the same condition as me and that i site like this even exists... it's great. i feel supported and not so crazy and alone. i am a fourteen year old female, but please don't take me any less seriously because of my age. i am fully capable of communicating just as well as any fourty-year-old. to the point... i pick and eat the skin from my feet and fingers, chew and eat it. i've done this for so long i have just accepted it as normal. i try not to think about it too much. even when i do it, i don't admit it to myself. i pick and pick until my skin bleeds and is sore to walk on for days. right now it's not too serious, i don't obsess. but i'm still young, i'd like to stop this habit before it forms any more! if you can tell me the name of this compulsion i would really appreciate it. or just tell me your story...i want to hear about YOU. take care.
106 Answers
November 07, 2009
Hey Alice, I'm 31 and have chewed and eaten the skin around my finger cuticles since I was at least 6. In fact, I pick and eat all my scabs and acne. I hate it, as does everyone on this site. That's why we are here :) We are all ashamed of our compulsions...some pull hair, some pick their scalps, and many chew and pick their feet and fingers. Just posting on the site is a great first step to recovery. We have dermatillomania. It's a form of obsessive compulsive disorder. Check out the forum and welcome!
August 30, 2011
Hi. Im 11 years old and I have had this problem since I was 9. It all started when I seen my sister biting her nails out of habit. I always had long nails so I tried it and was addicted fast. When I nearly bit my nails down to the nub I took a bite out of my skin and loved it. My fingers were raw completely the next couple of days. I still have this problem. It's not only my fingers I eat the skin off of. It's also my feet. My heel is raw and I can't barley walk on it sometimes. I have tried so many different things to stop my addiction but nothing works. I need help.
August 30, 2011
Hi alice. Im luisa and im 22. I've been picking and eating the skin on and around my fingers for as long as i can remember. I wait for it to get hard and calloused and then i peel it off and lay it out, then i pick it up and eat it when im done. *sigh* i stopped for a couple of years. I started going to the nailery regularly and getting acrylic on my nails. This seemed to have put my compulsion on pause until recently. I'm a nursing major and long/artificial nails are prohibited for health reasons. They're a reservoir for germs, so i was forced to take them off. Lo and behold, my compulsion is back at full force and, again, i am picking until my skin is red and raw. Smh. Alice, you are not alone.
April 15, 2012
Hi Everybody...i found this site by accident. I am so tired of this addiction that I don't know what to do. I started picking and eating my finger-skin ever since i was a very young child. I lived in a home with alot of stress: watching my dad beat my mother, daily and dad was very verbally, emotionally and sexually abusive with me. I remember my dad trying to bargain with me to get me to stop picking at my fingers. He told me that he would buy me a doll if I could stop doing it for 1 week. I did it and got my doll, but...the habit has continued throughout my adult years and i am now 52 yrs old. Within the past 3 years i began picking and eating the skin on the bottom of both feet. I cannot understand why i do it. If anyone knew I would be so ashamed but to be honest with you...this habit relieves some kind of inner turmoil..i cant explain it. I am "driven" to do it, and i look forward to doing it if it was some kind of reward or enjoyable activity. I never, ever thought that others did it much less find a blog on other's who do it. Then, come to find out it is a compulsive disorder. I guess it felt good to know there was an answer to what i was doing but on the other hand it only makes me feel crazy since it is in the DSM under emotional disorders. I take Prozac 20 mg daily for depression and am also on Adipex to lose weight. I have noticed that ever since i started Adipex that the obsession with peeling and eating the ginger and foot skin has increased. Not sure if there is a correlation. Thanks for letting me vent...maybe i will peel & eat less if i blog more..rofl!
May 08, 2012
Hi all, i have always chewed my finger nails and ate it. 10 years ago, while i was pregnant i started peeling my heels and around my big toe and eat the skin. Horrible habit that has cause infections and the inability to walk at times. My husband say that one day i will end up in the hospital, i just brushed him off, not thinking much about it. The other day, i was talking with a girl who is much younger then me. She told me that she was a "cutter" i of course i thought "thank god i have never done that" but, i after i thought about it for a while, it really is a form of self mutilation. The girl prayer over me, i still pick, but i catch my self and try to differ the temptation. I really didn't know that it is a disorder. OCD of what i have been told. i don't think i am going to get on meds or see a professional, but would be great to get support from other pickers.
May 13, 2012
I'm 13. I've had this habit for... I can't even remember. 7 maybe? I eat pick and chew the skin around my fingers and the bottoms of my big toes. My future step mom wants us to get pedicures for her wedding and i really wanna quit cause I don't want to say no but I never want them to see the bottom of my toes.. It freaks me out because I'll get stressed and before I know it, there I go AGAIN eating and picking the skin off my toes and I can't stand not stopping. I've tried the no nail biting stuff but it didn't work.. I need to stop.. Soon.
June 27, 2012
I feel less weird now, I ALWAYS have bitten the skin around my finger/toe nails (along with biting the nails) I just try and catch myself do it and say "no, you'll die if you do it." (No, it probably won't kill you, saying it will just detours me from snacking on my own flesh.)
October 31, 2012
Oh my! I never ever thought there were other people like me o! This nasty habit freaks my family out, my fiance cannot comprehend it, and in my country stuff like this just don't make sense. I'm totally tired of it and no matter how ugly my toes get I just can't stop peeling them and eating the skin, same for my fingers. My mom keeps asking if I'm hungry. It's frustrating and I've tried all I can to stop. Fake nails, nail varnish, plaster; I'm a 30 year old female, I need to stop this before I have kids and they pick up d habit too.
November 11, 2012
I am so happy I found this blog. I have been picking my skin for as long as I remember, I have noticed that it comes and goes as episodes during some months though. I take antidepressants Lexapro and I notice that the picking comes back when I miss a dose, but it has never gone away. I get a satisfying something when I pick and eat the skin of my feet, it is gross and sometimes I can't walk right because it hurts. There have been months when my feet are perfect, no biting my nails, no picking the skin of my fingers and toes or the bottom, my fingernails are grown and pretty, but then I find myself back, I am learning this is some sort of compulsive disorder, which I will now tell my psychiatist, I have never told anyone. I have noticed though that the urge is very strong when I am reading or watching a movie. Please share anything that you have found works to stop please.
January 02, 2013
Hi! I can't believe I found someone with the exact same problem! I pick at and eat the skin around my cuticles and on the calloused areas of my feet. I am doing so as I type! I am 12 years old, and I can't remember how long I've been picking my cuticles, but my feet just started recently.
March 12, 2013
I've been eating the skin off my fingers since I was a few years old. I'm fourteen as of last month. I bite my nails, the skin on my fingers, all of them, and my big toe. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person suffering from this. I've self diagnosed myself with dermatophagia. Many of the websites and articles I've looked at say that this disorder is because of traumatic events in your childhood, which never happened to me. ADD/ADHD which I don't believe I have. Anxiety and depression, self esteem issues, and OCD. All of which I've encountered. My parents are offering me $120 to stop biting the skin off my nails and biting my nails in general. If anybody has overcome this, please let me know! My parents and friends are scared for me as I grow up, but I think I'm fine, denial of course. Most days I can't write in school, or type on my phone or computer. People often ask me what happened to finger and I just say I accidentally cut myself. It's a horrible habit, and so embarrassing to tell people! Please help!
April 05, 2013
I'm also a teenage girl, age 15. When I was about 8 I chewed my fingers and nails. One day I decided to cut my toe nails, I peeled them off and skin came along with it. I ate it. The feeling of peeling and picking felt great. And eating it was the reward. I started exploring other parts of my feet and digging deeper with anything I could find and picking the skin and eating it. It hurt but I didn't care. I was too focused on getting the next big piece of skin. The next day I wouldn't be able to walk, I'd have to hide my limp and my gouged feet. No sandals in the summer and no swimming in the pool, I was confined to my self. Secretly destroying myself. I haven't done It very much lately. But I get these compulsions and I can't control it. Is there any help for me?
May 28, 2013
I just found this blog and I have been bitting my nails and picking t scbs since I was a small child. As I got older it progressed to my cuticles,feet,etc. I am now 48 yrs old and I have gone through almost all of those years with bitten up disgusting lookiing nails and cuticles, but its not just the fingers, I pick at my feet, scabs and anything else that can be picked, I have full blown Dermatophagia and I can tell you there is no cure. Take it from someone who has been suffering from this compulsive disorder for almost a half a century now. Furthemore its hereditary because my Mom suffered from it, but she's 78 now and was able to stop. My brother still does it,my brothers son, my nephew has it bad. Okay now here's the scoop. I have litterally tried everything possible over the years to stop and nothing ever worked for long term. Those nasty tasting nail polishes did nothing. Keeping my hands lotioned up only worked temporarily. I tried the mouth guard thing and that was an uncomfortable waste. I went to all kinds of therapy for compulsive disorders and wasted a lot of my time and money doing that. I go through band-aids like water wrapping the butchered fingers up when they become so disfigured and causing me terrible pain. Its just amazing how the human body and mind build up such a tolerance for pain. What I found that worked a little bit,but always temporarily and was only possible in the confines of my home was lotioning up my hands really good and wearing very thin tight fitting cotton gloves, which by the way are very hard to find . This prevented me from picking and healed them up quicker so I can unmasked them and leave my home to destroy them again. Its a terrible decease and its embarrassing as I always find myself hiding my fingers because I don't want people wondering and thinking what is wrong with this persons hands. About 3 years ago I broke my wrist and had to see a doctor and he immediately asked me whats going on with your fingers so I had no choice but to tell him my problem and he says to me as most people have said in the past ' YOU NEED TO JUST STOP DOING THAT" oh how I wish it was that easy, but then he tells me how he hs seen people have their fingers amputated because they did what I do . Infections occure from bacteria in the mouth. So I ask him how bout I use sterilized tools to pick would that be better, by the way I was dead serious. He told me I need a behavior therapist that specialzes in compulsive disorders such as mine. I told him i'v been there and done that so the bottom line is this is something I have to live with and if they amputate a finger or two al least i'll still have some fingers left to work on.If anyone knows a sure cure or something I don't know about stopping this madness let me know.
June 10, 2013
There is a cure! I too suffer with this condition but not as much as I use too. Step one you must buy your self a chew toy whether it be a dog toy or a teething toy. buy some and start chewing on one like a piece of jerky every time you get an urge. believe it or not it is the chewing motion your body craves not the ingesting of the skin. your brain will purposely put you in pain to tell you to stop cannibalizing your self. step two cover up your extremities! wear socks whenever possible if you cant see something it cant rouse your attention right? wear those light winter gloves all around your house and when your out stuff them in your pocket. this will take care of the compulsive behavior mostly because you wont be putting your trigger in your face. by not hiding you hands and feet its like leaving out a case of beer in front of an alcoholic and telling them not to drink it! the last step is to surround yourself as much as possible with someone you would be embarrassed chewing around. I hang out with one of my best friends a lot because I am obviously embarrassed to whip out my feet and chew right in front of him! the clue is to get close to someone you would hate getting caught chewing in front of! I hope this helps everyone I'm only 14 but I know my stuff! Good luck with your fight!
June 15, 2013
I feel some amazing wave of relief knowing other people do this. Considering no one ever "showed" me how, I've always been curious as to WHY I started doing this. My thing is taking nail clippers to the dead skin on my feet and eating it afterwards. It's caused some minor trouble and forced a few white lies out of me over the years. It makes it hard to walk sometimes, which sucks because I love being barefoot outside and in. I also bite my fingernails and toenails, but since they're always so short there's rarely anything for me to eat. But I do swallow it. Pretty sure I have dermatillomania and/or dermatophagia at least a little bit. Not seeing a way out other than maybe getting myself a chew toy, heh.
The worst picker
June 16, 2013
I do this also along with picking my teeth and pulling my eyelashes you. I am so messed. I cut or clip the calluses off my fingers hands toes feet. This is so ridiculous. I don't always eat the clippings but I am always clipping
December 21, 2013
I eat skin off of my feet, especially when their sweaty and, I eat the toe jam between my feelt, also I've got athletes foot, will it harm me inside if I keep eating my skin off my feet?, also I have been picking scabs that have recently appeard n my scalp and tried to eat it, why am I doing this? Help
January 21, 2014
Hi my names danielle and ive been doing this for years now been picking my feet till it bleeds and then eating it im glad im not the only one that does this im only 18 and i suffered alot with school been bullied and stalked all my life and ive been with a therapist and everything and im still not healed i still have the memories when I was bullied and some reason picking my feet relaxes me but i also don't wanna cause any damage to myself...
January 28, 2014
Wow. I've been doing this for so many years now, I don't remember when it started. I know I had a really bad nail biting problem in youth. Also used to pull my hair out and scalp pick until i caused wounds, then pull all the hair out of the wounded area. Now I only do those occasionally but still cause minor bleeding. I think I've built up pain tolerance in my scalp because it doesn't hurt when it's bleeding. Pulling my hair doesn't hurt, either, so if I ever get in a fight, the other girl better have another move haha. I pull out my eyelashes and love how that feels, too but only on the inner corners. I found clipping off skin way more satisfying than nail biting. But, now I cut my nails obsessively, they have to be all the same size and shape. The skin clipping started with the sides of my nails, then spread to the tops and undersides of my fingers and also feet. It's extremely frustrating, I literally lose hours in the day because of this habit. I will even do it at red lights when driving. All of my fingers are unnaturally smooth, sometimes raw. I get cut easily because of thin skin and can't do things like open jars because it hurts. I had a job that required a thumbprint for clocking in and it never worked because my skin clipping would deform my print. I also scrape the skin out from under my nails. I carry a certain pair of clippers that are really efficient at clipping skin and get weirdly frustrated when I forget them. Nail clippers are all over the house. I very rarely break skin anymore, but used to a lot when I started. I don't eat them, but chew. I eat some accidentally, but spit the rest out. I just love chewing on them. I can't explain how satisfying and relaxing it is. Now, it's practically a requirement because the skin grows back callused. When my hands are wet, I can see uneven spots that I have to clip. I never thought this was a serious problem to seek help for, just a quirky, weird habit. I'm still not sure I consider it serious enough to seek help. I guess it's normal now because I've been doing it for about 15 years, I just don't remember exactly when it started. My boyfriend of 7 years is the only person who knows about my skin clipping and he doesn't act like it's any big deal either, we call it 'mongling' (like mangling), haha. It's definitely my favorite weird thing to do that I've never had a remission from, not more than a couple weeks at most. Just thought I'd share, too. I never knew or heard of anyone else who skin clipped.
January 30, 2014
I pick,pull, and bite at my cuticles, lips, and feet (well not exactly biting my feet, but I pull and pick at it) all the time, which is why I am so happy to have found this website, because now I know I'm not alone in this! so anyways, a lot of the time somehow, a piece of skin I've pulled off ends up in my mouth. Mostly I just chew it for a bit, and every once in a while I'll actually swallow it. I don't know why I do this, but I'm really glad that I'm not the only one suffering from this!

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